Recently a friend and I had a debate about whether or not A&E's hit television show Storage Wars is scripted, as he has recently become suspicious about the show's "truthiness". As a fan of the show, I don't believe the characters are reading cue cards or following set scripts, but I do believe there is more to the show than meets the eye. Having worked in the moving and storage business where we frequently moved the entire contents of houses and apartments into storage units, I do have some appreciation for the probability theory of finding value in storage. I'm no Dave Hester, but I do have a working knowledge of the industry (at least in Vancouver).
Here are some of my observations and the realities that I suspect to be true of Storage Wars.
1) The rate at which they find high value collectible items in these lockers is extraordinarily high relative to what it should be. That means one of two things is true, a whole lot of footage gets cut and the majority of auctions we never see, or the locker content is somehow manipulated by the people who make the show. I did a Google search, and the most prevalent accusation against the show seems to be that high value items are planted in the lockers.
2) The values (or scores) that they display on the show are just guesses by the person who bought the locker, not the actual amount that they were able to get for the item in reality. You will see Jerrod walk through a locker and point to all the different items while throwing out numbers, but if you compare the numbers he calls out against the price of a comparable item at Walmart, good luck getting $50 for that used sewing machine. Rather than score the show based on what the purchaser guesses items to be worth, it should be what the item was actually sold for.
3) It is very likely that access to these auctions is tightly controlled by the show producers. This is merely a suspicion, but I do not believe that anyone could just walk in off the street and attend a Storage Wars auction. Why? The show is on television with millions of viewers, and there are a lot of people (especially in California) who will do anything to get on TV. When I saw that the number of people attending the auctions in season 2 was roughly the same as season 1, access has to be manipulated. Season 1 had millions of viewers and was a great success. If anyone could attend these auctions, then you'd see thousands at every auction in season 2.
4) The cast. My friend believes that the cast is too conveniently diverse. You have a villain, a gambler, a husband-wife team, and an antique collector with comic relief. While I do not believe that the cast are reading cue cards, I do believe that they were in fact casted. The main characters didn't just show up and that's why they are on the show, it's likely there were either auditions, or the auctioneer approached individual people with invitations to be cast in Storage Wars. This doesn't necessarily mean the show is fake or the auctions are pre-ordained.
5) If you yourself rent a storage locker, you need to know that the landlord will double lock your unit as soon as you're a day late with a payment. If you know that you are facing financial difficulty and won't be able to make future payments, get your valuables out of the locker before it gets double locked. It doesn't take long for the fines and penalties to stack on top of each other, to the point where you might never be able to afford to access your items ever again.