‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Fired Back at Critics Who Call Show Fake

by John Jamison

Since American Pickers began back in 2010, Mike Wolfe has faced accusations that the show is fake or staged somehow. Can you guess what he has to say about that? Nonsense. Though he does admit that they take certain liberties when it comes to continuity.

Think about the monumental task before Mike Wolfe. The American Pickers star, creator, and executive producer has to get roughly 40 minutes of entertaining footage for a single episode. There have been 334 episodes to date. That’s a whole lot of pickin’. Can you blame him for changing the order of picked items around, so the audience isn’t bored to tears? It’s reality TV, after all.

In 2013, Wolfe spoke at a Barnes & Noble event to promote his new book. A fan in attendance asked about allegations of the show being fake.

“There’s what I do for a living. Then there’s the entertainment factor of it,” said Wolfe. “What you see me do is what we really do. We don’t go in, we don’t plan things. We don’t have to plan things. I mean, look at all the stuff that’s out there. We walk into a building, and it’s completely full,” said Wolfe.

But he was candid about certain tricks American Pickers employs.

“Now, are there things we do for the entertainment factor? There are. Because if you guys watched me do what I really do for a living, you’d probably turn the channel. You’d go, ‘Oh, this guy’s boring. Click.’ There are things that we have to do to connect stories,” he continued.

If Danielle discovers an amazing find in a storage locker, the show might decide to “fake” the location of its discovery. But that doesn’t mean Mike, Danielle, whoever it was didn’t hunt down the item, negotiate for it, and buy it.

Are You Really Watching ‘American Pickers’ for the Items Anyway?

You may have answered “yes” to that question. But for Mike Wolfe, the antiques themselves aren’t what American Pickers is all about. The emphasis for Wolfe is on the people and the stories they have to share. If telling a good story means a slight change of scenery here or there or changing the order of events in editing, he’s going to do it.

“People don’t ever remember the items we buy. They remember the people. It’s so character-driven. That’s why it’s such a great format,” Wolfe told Scriptmag in 2013.

That mindset has led American Pickers to massive success. It has even brought us recurring figures like Hobo Jack, who had so much old junk on his property that he discovered items with Mike and Frank. There’s rusty gold in them hills. Sometimes it comes in the form of interesting people.