What’s so exciting about storage, you might ask? Everything!
The thrill! The rush! The competition! It’s the the hopes and dreams of hard-working Americans at the cusp of a jackpot. All in one beautiful formulaic half-hour slot.
Storage Wars is aired on A&E and can now be seen in 13 countries. For those who are virgins to this reality TV darling, it follows professional buyers who bid on unpaid storage lockers on the hopes that what’s inside is worth more than what they paid for it. By law, if you miss the rent on your storage unit for more than three months, the company is allowed to sell off your contents at a cash-only auction.
But how has this simple show received more than millions of viewers and syndication in13 countries? How did storage become such riveting TV drama?
1. We All Want To Win The Lottery
Dave Hester from Storage Wars puts it succinctly: “Everyone wants to hit the lottery.” There’s a small part in all of us that loves the idea of chance, luck, and money. And watching other people go through that same emotional high can be good enough.
2. Anyone Can Do it
Anyone can bid on a storage locker. It’s not just for TV reality stars. You could literally walk out tomorrow and head over to an auction and bid on a locker.
3. It’s A Modern Day Treasure Hunt
Bidders only get a 5-minute gander from the outside of a storage locker to assess whether or not they want to bid on it. So they have to look for clues. Like a treasure hunt, they’re looking for signs that could point to something bigger. In the trailer above, one of the bidders sees guitar picks. So he’s betting on a hunch that there might be some expensive guitars hidden inside that locker.
4. It’s Really Emotional
Because each auction is a gamble and there’s so much build up before the reveal, each win and loss is a huge emotional pay off to the viewer. We ache when they lose and we cheer when they win.
5. The Characters
More than the actual auctions themselves, it’s just down right entertaining to watch the dynamics between the main characters. Watching Dave Hester and Darrell Sheets and the other characters come head to head makes for great TV. We live for the fights as much as we live for the wins.
6. Awesome Editing and Music
Let’s be honest. Editing and music are magic. The right cuts, the right reaction shots, and the right music followed by a cliffhanger before a commercial break create the suspense reality TV needs. It’s known in the reality TV world that when in doubt, cut to someone’s resting face as a reaction shot because most people have RBFS (Resting Bitch Face Syndrome).
Because of the nature of the auction, the bidding process itself automatically builds anticipation and excitement. Watching the characters bid back and forth and give each other the eye all while mentally calculating the estimated worth of a storage locker they’ve only seen from the outside is like watching professionals gamble.
8. For What It’s Worth
Similar to Antiques Roadshow, each major item found in a storage unit is then taken to an expert to be appraised. Whether they’re an art dealer or a guitar expert, it’s fun to see whether the item they’ve bid on is actually worth anything or not. Sometimes they score big and sometimes it’s better off used as kindling.
9. Our Economy Sucks
Storage Wars is a branch of entertainment called recessionary TV, a type of TV programming that comes whenever there’s an economic recession. TV shows like Auction Hunters, Natural Born Dealers, or Pawn Stars all feature downsizing. This hits home with a lot of people at the moment.