There was a time when you could trust what you saw on TV. I mean, it didn’t last for very long and they still took liberties, but those were the good old days. Probably.
These days, it’s a little less honest and considerably more stupid. A couple years ago I spoke to someone who used to make his money hosting travel shows on some distant cable TV channel. He told me that everything was fake, but a lot of the fakery was hidden from him. He would show up in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly bump into a local who spoke perfect English and offered to be his guide. “Come, stranger from another land, meet my family, eat my food, stay in my house, and bring your friends and their alien equipment along.”
This fakery was extended to many other shows. Sometimes, it’s obvious but innocent. Like when you’re watching a documentary about two people who have apparently never met and someone who doesn’t know they are about to be on TV, yet the moment they meet is filmed from the inside of that person’s house. Are we to assume that the cameraman just snuck through the back door and thrust his equipment over their shoulder as they were meeting the host?
Other trickery is much more devious, but equally annoying. Everyone’s doing it. There are suggestions that Man vs Wild is fake. The same has also been said for these pawn shop programs, and you’d have to have given yourself a DIY lobotomy to believe that Lizard Lick Towing is legitimate.
One of the worst offenders, however, was Pimp my Ride, which took things to a new level and then proceeded to add needlessly complicated crap to it.
The Real Pimp my Ride
There have been multiple Reddit AMAs from previous contestants (that’s Ask me Anything, for the uninitiated, which was me ten minutes ago). These have exposed the show for what it really was, which is incredibly dodgy.
The producers would make the pre-pimp cars look considerably worse than they actually were, flaking paint, damaging bumpers and just plain lying to make it look like a heap of rusted metal that they were about to save. And a lot of that “saving” was equally useless.
Justin Dearinger got all of the usual random stuff added to the interior of his car, including a “pop-up champagne contraption and a drive-in theatre.” But these were actually removed after they had been shown on TV, with the producers seemingly realizing how insane those additions were.
They left his car in a bad state and he spent years trying to fix it, before it burst into flames five years later. Apparently they hadn’t given him the mandatory inbuilt Firehouse attachment.
But that’s nothing on Seth Martino, who was given his own cotton candy machine in the trunk. This needless addition was obviously very heavy, yet they hadn’t done anything under the hood to compensate for that added weight. No extra power, no improved suspension. As a result, Seth said that driving it felt like he was in a boat, with the bottom constantly hitting bumps on the road.
And if you ever thought that you would use Pimp my Ride as a service to improve your metallic lemon so you could sell it on, then think again. Contestants are asked to sign a contract that forbids them from listing the car on any auction sites.
The director of the show came forward after all of this fakery was exposed to say that the goal was never to “fix mechanical problems” and that it was just “for fun.” At one point, this guy was faced with the option of being silent, lying or telling the truth. He made the wrong decision.
So, don’t signup for the PMR lottery and just do it yourself, using sites like Bikers Basics to get the right equipment. It’ll cost more, but you’ll have your sanity at the end of it and you won’t have to deal with all that high-fiving, fist-bumping nonsense from people who treat your car like a man cave.