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August 30, 2015

Five Shows for the Bad Economy

by Jean Bentley, posted Dec 19th 2010 4:00PM
'The Apprentice'Countdown to Festivus on Dec. 23: On the fifth day of Festivus, TV gave to us ... five shows for the bad economy.

Unless your name is Scrooge McDuck and you literally carry bags full of money everywhere, you've had to do some serious tightening of your purse strings recently. (Metaphorically speaking, of course, because we just established that you don't have an actual bag of cash.)

Television networks have been tapping into that collective thriftiness this year with seemingly countless shows about bargain-hunting, turning trash to treasure, and pawn shops. For some reason, there are lots and lots of shows about pawn shops. Here are five shows for the frugal viewer.

'American Pickers''American Pickers,' History Channel
Who doesn't dream of that junky lamp in the basement turning out to be worth a couple thou? It's just a matter of having an eye for valuable items, plus actually rooting through all the clutter to find the treasure amidst the trash. 'AP' hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz might possibly be the most patient men in the world in that regard as they travel the country and root through the antiques and collectibles in private homes, buying the items for fair prices then selling them for profit.

'Storage Wars''Storage Wars,' A&E
It's kind of a weird premise for a reality show -- four professional buyers scout reposessed storage lockers then bid on them in public auctions -- but it's managed to capture the interest of TK million viewers. Before you get any ideas about getting into the storage unit-buying business, though, know that it's actually a fast-paced, cutthroat career. You only get two minutes to decide if you're buying someone's valuable comic collection or just a bunch of junk from someone's attic.

Donald Trump'The Apprentice,' NBC
In an effort to reboot the franchise, Donald Trump decided this year's non-celebrity edition of his popular reality show should feature contestants who have all lost their jobs due to the poor economy. Unfortunately, it failed even harder than the government's ability to hold on to state secrets -- it struggled in the ratings following a disappointing premiere, with around 4 million viewers tuning in each week. That's half as many as this year's celebrity edition.

'Auctioneer$''Auctioneer$,' TLC
Yes, the title is spelled as if someone was being frugal with marquee letters and re-tasked a leftover dollar sign as an "s." But if you're able to get past that faux pas, you have a show that follows the action at a fast-paced auction house Bidders attempt to win everything from a copy of Princess Diana's wedding dress to a Tiger Woods-autographed golf ball.

'Pawn Stars''Pawn Stars,' History Channel
This granddaddy of the pawn show genre has spawned one official spinoff ('Rusty Nuts') and at least two knockoffs on other channels ('Hardcore Pawn' on TruTV and 'Pawn Queens' on TLC). But there's a reason viewers keep tuning in to the History Channel's reality juggernaut -- personality. The family-run Las Vegas shop attracts some crazy characters, not to mention the outgoing father-son pair at the heart of the show. Plus, it's educational. Customers get a history lesson on their item before the proprietor haggles the best price he can get for the product.

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