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5 Best TV Shows About Junk

Married, father of two. Enjoys helping people navigate the tricky world of personal finance, as well as writing about lifestyle/travel.

Shows about antiques and junk. Used under Fair Use Doctrine

Shows about antiques and junk. Used under Fair Use Doctrine

Junk and Antique Shows on TV

As the economy lingers in the trash can, people have become more accustomed to buying secondhand items. Whether it be from garage sales, thrift stores, or just plain trading, people are getting used to the idea that it is smart to shop thrifty.

With this mentality comes a rise in the popularity of TV shows about junk and junk collecting.

Here is our list of the 5 Best:

5. Auction Kings - Discovery Channel

Auction Kings is one of the later forays into the Junk TV game, premiering in late 2010. But they offered viewers something that had been lacking in most of their predecessors’ shows - the true value of items. On many of the shows, you only get to hear what the hosts think the item is worth, and that is usually taken as gospel.

On Auction Kings, you get to see what an expert thinks the item is worth, then get to see what it actually sells for.

Pros: get to see true value; cast is entertaining; behind the scenes look into the world of auctions; they show success and failure

Cons: the cast is not the easiest on the eyes, and they usually wear the same clothes over and over again.

4. Storage Wars - A&E

Also entering the Junk TV game in 2010, Storage Wars has made a name for itself by showing a world of junk many never knew existed - storage auctions. When the owners of storage units fail to pay their bills, the contents are often sold in a public auction. What makes it interesting is that you usually don’t know what you are bidding on, and have to trust your gut instinct based on what you can see in the few moments you have before the auction starts.

This show plays to those of us interested in junk, and also maximizes the risk and gambling angle through clever commercial breaks. The characters are entertaining and the individual dynamics between them make for interesting drama.

Pros: great reveals; experts to better value good finds; entertaining characters; Brandi Passante (gorgeous);

Cons: don’t get to see the true value of items, just what they think it’s worth; drama between characters has been growing and threatens to overwhelm the junk; Dave Hester’s “Yehhhppp” call when he bids (though I find it funny).

Used under Fair Use Doctrine

Used under Fair Use Doctrine

3. American Pickers - History Channel

Premiering in early 2010, this was one of the first shows to make a name for itself in the junk game. It follows the travels of two “pickers,” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, who run Antique Archaeology. They drive the back roads of America, often stopping on a whim to pick through an old barn or shed.

This show is on our list for many reasons. The characters are funny and entertaining, and the show finds a way to make you feel like you are really learning about Americana and why certain items are valuable, and why others aren’t.

Pros: entertaining characters; great educational aspect; makes the junk the star; Danielle (cute and sassy); sometimes get to see what items sell for.

Cons: enduring optimism can get overbearing; often don’t show what items actually sell for; though trying to hit new parts of America, is at risk of being repetitive.

Used under Fair Use Doctrine

Used under Fair Use Doctrine

2. Pawn Stars - History Channel

Debuting in 2009, this was the first show to kick off the recent interest in junk tv. I have always said that if the characters in a show are interesting, I’ll watch it. It could be about goat herding, lint collecting, or even....a pawn shop.

For those who have watched Pawn Stars since the beginning, it has been an interesting progression to watch the guys grow. Chumlee tries to get more responsibility; Corey tries to prove he can run the store; and Rick continues to try to establish himself as the man, despite the lingering presence of his “old man.”

Pros: first to the game; constantly showing new items and traveling to new locations to scope out items; humorous; good educational aspect about the items and the history behind them.

Cons: constantly checking with experts makes you wonder what they actually know themselves; never seem to buy the big-ticket items.

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Used under Fair Use Doctrine

Used under Fair Use Doctrine

1. Antiques Roadshow - PBS

This show is the godfather, father, patriarch and boss of all junk shows. We must bow down to the original.

Though the original version of this show started in England in the late 1970s, most of us know only the American version on public television, which became popular in the 1990s. Not a particularly exciting show, it is the best at educating viewers on “junk” (note: most of the stuff on here isn’t technically junk, but usually valuable antiques and artifacts).

This show has the best reveals. There is nothing like watching a 90-year-old woman become speechless because the item she bought for $5 at a yard sale is worth $50,000.

Pros: has inspired many pickers and collectors, as well as shows about junk; is on public television (no commercials!); constantly traveling to new cities and regions, and featuring local museums and shops; great reveals and surprises; excellent educational angle.

Cons: mostly geared towards old people; many items are boring.


Leila on January 13, 2015:

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Emily Barnes from Austin, Tx on September 04, 2013:

I'm a huge fan of Pawn Stars and American Pickers. Antique Roadshows? Not so much. But I haven't checked out Auction Kings. Seems like a great show. I'll have to check it out.

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on March 29, 2012:

Thanks for reading and sharing. If you can't find your husband, he's at my place watching Pawn Stars!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on March 28, 2012:

I had to share this with my husband. He ALWAYS has one of these shows on. I, on the other hand, just resort to working on the computer. I like them, but I'm not addicted like some people I know. Hahaha. Thanks for sharing this. :)

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on February 06, 2012:

Hardcore Pawn is great because it seems more accurate. I want to open my own pawn shop and picture it being more like HCP than Pawn Stars. While most of these shows are staged to some extent, it's good fun.

laurathegentleman from Chapel Hill, NC on February 06, 2012:

My family was talking about these shows over Christmas, and I started to watch some of them. I LOVE American Pickers and Hardcore Pawn! :) You might be responsible for my relapse into obsessively watching pawn shop reality television... ;)

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on February 06, 2012:

They seem like cool guys - I'd like to see their shop too. Probably not too far from me in Illinois either.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 06, 2012:

American Pickers is my favorite. They're Iowa guys and their store is about 90 miles from where I live. I've been meaning to go check it out.

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on January 04, 2012:

Hey James - good to see you. I have actually been watching more Hardcore Pawn since I wrote this article. I think I watched a marathon over Christmas.

I do enjoy that show, because it seems more real than the others. It certainly gives a more accurate picture of what it would be like to own a pawn shop, as opposed to Pawn Stars, which makes it look easy.

James A Watkins from Chicago on January 03, 2012:

I love Storage Wars! There is something about Brandi that is mezmerizing. Americans Pickers is interesting and of course Antique Roadshow is as you say, the father of all these shows and still pretty cool. One I really enjoy that you didn't mention is Hardcore Pawn.

Thank you for the excellent article. I enjoyed it very much. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

FloraBreenRobison on December 19, 2011:

I have been watching Antique Roadshow for years and I have never found anyone to top them for me. Thanks to Brittanytodd for hearing about this hub.

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on December 19, 2011:

It seems like Storage Wars is winning the poll so far - this is definitely my new favorite, and it seems like others agree.

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on December 16, 2011:

Hey Liz - thanks for stopping by. I too have many great memories watching this show as a kid with my parents.

FabLiz86 from Los Angeles, Ca on December 15, 2011:

Great hub! I greatly miss Antiques Roadshow. Even though I'm not old (I'm 26) I've always loved this show and my PBS station no longer runs it. I'm sure it's still running on some other PBS station. Thanks for the wonderful reminder from my childhood!

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on December 15, 2011:

Hey PR - That is a good benefit of this movement. It's good for the environment if you can find a well-made item from the past, rather than having to buy a cheap plastic one from the store.

Brittany: I have seen the Texas one, and I'm waiting to see if I can get into the characters as much as the original. One of my coworkers swears the weird guy with glasses on SW Texas is actually Barry from the original, wearing a costume.

Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on December 15, 2011:

MWD, I love Storage Wars, but totally agree with you on the con. What's up with that? I guess it takes too long for them to sell the items to give an accurate price, but it is weird. Have you seen the new Texas one? They seem to make more of a profit than the original ones. Great hub, voted up, etc!

parentsreview from Lansdowne, PA on December 15, 2011:

This is a great sign of the times. People are realizing, there's already great stuff in the world, no need to shop Walmart or Amazon, just pick through old stuff and there could be some great stuff there. Great hub!

marriedwithdebt (author) from Illinois on December 15, 2011:

Hey Optimus - my wife HATES Hester's bid call so I've started doing it at home when I'm asked a question. As a gun enthusiast, I do enjoy the firearm experts on Pawn Stars and when they get to test the guns. Thanks for stopping by.

optimus grimlock on December 15, 2011:

great hub, I want one of the guys to punch hester in the face that would make great tv! Pawn stars is always good, I think the experts are needed plus there always entertaining!You're right about a.k. there a very fugly bunch.

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