Is ‘American Pickers’ Fake? Stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz Don’t Do Much Picking At All

Reality shows have been a big hit on many networks, but for a while, reality shows mostly focused on the romantic lives of the cast. Lately, reality shows like Man vs. Wild and Pawn Stars have become big hits for people who aren’t interested in other people’s love lives. That said, one of the biggest surprise reality show hits has been American Pickers. Like Pawn StarsAmerican Pickers is a show that’s on the History channel, and it’s been as successful as Pawn Stars has been. That said, like many other reality shows, American Pickers may not be as “real” as it may seem. 

Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz smiling in front of an American Pickers logo
Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

What ‘American Pickers’ is about

The show premiered in early 2010, and it features its hosts, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. These two men are the “pickers” that the title of the show is about, and their job is to go around America to find and buy the antiques and rarities that are hiding in the homes of regular people. Once they’ve bought those items, they return home to their store, where there’s usually a short segment featuring Danielle Colby, who runs their store for them.

Despite this relatively mundane premise, the show provides the hosts a chance to talk and showcase historical items from America’s past. That said, in part due to the educational value of the show, and in part due to how simple a concept the show is, the show has been running for over a decade now. It’s had 21 seasons so far, and it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

How staged is ‘American Pickers’?

As Nicki Swift wrote, most reality shows are somewhere between a true to life documentary and a completely scripted show. This is the same story with American Pickers, as many of the things are “real,” but a lot of it is scripted or edited for the cameras. For example, before the show became a thing, the two hosts were indeed childhood friends with one another.

However, Wolfe seems to be the more serious picker, as he’s been working with antiques for decades, while Fritz was actually a fire safety inspector for decades. On top of that, since the show does a lot of traveling, like many other shows, American Pickers starts and ends with the two hosts alone on the road. But, as Nicki Swift said, in reality, there’s a massive fleet of cars that’s full of crew members that shadow the two men. 

And of course, since the show’s going on cable TV, that crew takes a few hours to shoot everything that they need, and of course, everyone needs to get fed along the way. That’s why there the camera crew will do multiple takes of a shot so they can get it right, and there’s usually a food truck that’s not shown on camera. 

They may not even pick the antiques themselves, either


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That said, one of the biggest rumors against the show is that, as Nicki Swift wrote, the hosts may not pick the antiques out themselves. Some of the people who’ve been on the show have claimed that producers from the show contacted them weeks in advance before the cast and crew stopped by to film. This makes a lot of sense since it would allow the producers to separate the wheat from the chaff early on.

Nicki Swift also wrote that many participants of the show claimed that the producers would haggle over the price before the cast got there. Instead, the producers and the hosts seem more focused on telling the story of the places they visit and the antiques that they find. This again makes a lot of sense, as the stories and the banter between the cast is usually more interesting than the items they show off.