Night after night, as I sift through channel after channel, stare mindlessly at show after show, I constantly stop on one show that can keep me entertained for hours; ‘Storage Wars.’ Apparently, I’m not alone, last Tuesday; almost 5 million people watched the back-to-back new episodes that kicked off season three of the popular show.
The premise is simple; the show follows four “professionals” of the storage locker auction business as they bid on abandoned lockers in the hopes that they will find valuables inside. The catch is that they only have five minutes to look at the locker and they are forbidden from touching anything or going inside to get a closer look. What you see is what you get.
The show has become a sort of pop culture phenomenon, and has inspired thousands to head out to storage auctions with the hope of finding riches in an old storage unit, despite the fact that these people are digging through families’ old heirlooms that they’re never going to see again.
It’s simple, in a time where many Americans are unemployed and families are struggling to get by, the allure of seeing someone able to change their lives in an instant represents a basic form of the American Dream.
It also doesn’t hurt that the show has cast a wide spectrum of people, some who you want to see succeed and some who you’d like to see out in the gutter in bankrupt ruins.
This is the show’s secret weapon; these are the characters of ‘Storage Wars.’
Barry Weiss- the kooky old uncle of the cast, Weiss is, in reality, pretty filthy stinking rich, buying storage units is merely a hobby for him. There are some episodes where he buys a locker only to throw away all of the contents, he’s looking for the rare collectables and when he finds them, it’s not even a given that he’ll sell them. In two seasons, Weiss has used a variety of tactics to gain an upper hand in the auctions, he’s brought psychics, he’s dressed in disguises and he’s even had a midget on stilts accompany him to try and get a better look at what’s inside the lockers. How do you not want to see him succeed?
Jarrod and Brandi- the young couple and the relative novices of the business, and yes, he is a bro, she, likely a bro-ho, but don’t let that keep you from cheering them on. Episode after episode, they seem to follow a similar formula; he buys a locker for what she deems too much money for just a bunch of crap, and spends the rest of the episode demeaning him every chance she can. Even though it follows this basic template, rest assured- it never gets old. They endear themselves to you in no time, him with a false tough demeanor covering up the aw-shucks attitude he really has, and her with a never ending sass that suggests she’s just great to spend every day with.
Darrell Sheets- the tank-top wearing grandfather is just trying to help form a college fund for his granddaughter. However, he also has a knack for consistently losing the most money by buying lockers that are minimally filled or have just one potential valuable in them. If there’s a room with a few closed boxes and a tipped over vacuum cleaner, there’s a good chance he’ll be the one buying it. Occasionally accompanied by his son Brandon, Sheets will either amuse or infuriate you with his declaring of items as non-denominational bills. Countless episodes are spent with him saying an item is “a 500 dollar bill” or a “200 dollar bill.” His high-risk high-reward take on auction buying makes him fascinating and at times, heart breaking to watch.
Dave Hester- if Dave Hester is your favorite buyer on ‘Storage Wars,’ you’re doing it wrong. Known for his obnoxious, “Yuuuup,” Hester has become a mini-conglomerate of sorts. His slogan adorns shirts, hats, coffee mugs and it’s even plastered on the side of his truck. It’s pretty clear that the rest of the cast all hate him too, he constantly bids on units that he has no vested interest in, just to raise the price for the others. It’s likely he could get his own spin-off where people just line up to kick him in the dick.
And for some reason, the success of this show is not easily duplicated, A&E quickly released a new series called “Storage Wars: Texas” that features a group of buyers in Texas and follows the same formula, but lacks the spark of the original.
As long as there is ‘Storage Wars,’ there will be millions of Americans tuning in to gamble from their homes, to imagine themselves in such situations and to just forget how hard things can be from time to time.
Dustin Brewer is a writer/co-editor-in-chief at hefferbrew.wordpress.com/hefferbrew.tumblr.com. He plans on becoming a storage unit buyer if his career in journalism fails.