‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Said the Show Is ‘All About the People’

by Josh Lanier

American Pickers star Mike Wolfe said he understands why the show resonates with fans. And it’s not him or the random items he finds hidden away in an attic or old barn. It’s the people he meets as he crisscrosses the country looking for buried treasures.

American Pickers is in the middle of its 22nd season on The History Channel. But long before the show was a hit, Wolfe said he realized that the star of American Pickers should the collectors he meets and explaining their relationship to the items they collect, he explained to ScriptMag in 2013.

But at the end of the day, it was all about the people I pick from – to give them a voice and to give the item a voice and showing the relationship there, showing an audience these places still exist and that there’s no such thing as a nobody. Even the smallest thing can have value if there’s a story. Teaching people about the process of that is what I wanted to do. As far as being famous and having a chip in the game and getting into the industry, that never crossed my mind, ever.

Wolfe said the best part of his job is meeting people who are as excited as he is about collecting things and finding out why.

“A judge I met in Florida has an incredible collection of petrobilia, signs, and gas pumps. A lot of people have beautiful collections that are clean and on display. This guy, his stuff was piled on top of each other,” Mike Wolfe told Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine in 2011.

“For me, I want to know why people go down this path, why they buy all high-quality stuff. For this guy, it was because he worked in a gas station when he was 13. Just that one experience changed his path. That’s what interests me. I go in, and people have one hundred or one thousand of one thing, and it’s the back story that is intriguing to me.”

Mike Wolfe Struggled To Explain His Vision for ‘American Pickers’

When Mike Wolfe signed his first production deal with a company, it was a bare-bones operation. Despite having a studio working with him, he was still lugging his equipment across the country and setting up his shots.

Once the show took off, the crew grew and so did the attention from outsiders. American Pickers, Wolfe said in a follow-up article with ScriptMag, used a rotating cast of directors. They’d come in for a month or so and then leave, which is pretty standard fare for reality shows, he said.

But Wolfe said he noticed that they didn’t get the show as he envisioned it. They wanted to create stunts or build storylines around Mike and Frank. That’s not why the show works, he said.

“No one knows my business like I do,” Wolfe said. “In reality TV they always ask you to do stupid sh*t. They’re always struggling for a storyline. But I wanted to make the picks so powerful that they were the storyline.”

Wolfe said he’s taken a more active role in the behind-the-scenes aspects of the show in later seasons.