Some of my favorite shows used to be Pawn Stars, American Restoration and Counting Cars. I loved the people, loved the jobs they did; and particularly on the restoration shows, loved seeing the old made brand new. I spent many an afternoon and evening watching the marathons of these shows airing on History Channel.
But notice, I said they used to be my favorites. All three shows are coming out with new episodes; all three continue to air marathons on numerous days of the week. So why do I no longer enjoy them?
One reason is burnout; when you watch 2-4 hours of the same show, you get a little tired of it. But the major reason is that the format of the shows have all changed in the same way.
Allow me to explain. The early episodes of Pawn Stars were all the same: people brought in items to pawn or sell, experts were called in, and money often changed hands. American Restoration and Counting Cars both had customers bring projects in, which they then showed some of the work being done on them, and then at the end of the episode the customer came back and picked up the item.
Now all three shows still follow that same format, but they have also devoted significant portions of the episodes to character development and a plot. No longer is it enough to just buy and sell items, there must now be a conflict, or a running gag throughout the episode. No longer can work on an item be shown, because the workers must now pursue a plot that is developing in the show.
All three of these are advertised as reality television shows, but the reality has been sucked out of them in favor of storylines and character development and plots and running gags.
So what is my point?
The History Channel, and others, have determined that just watching someone do their vocation is not enough. Watching people buy and sell is not good enough; laboring over a project for hours is not what people want to see. And yet, it is people watching other people do their vocations that made these shows popular, justifying the endless marathons.
I do not watch much of these shows anymore; I enjoyed watching them do their jobs and do them well. They are men involved in the business world of buying and selling and restoring; they are not particularly good actors. The shows were great when they did the vocations that God had so blessed them to do so well; now that the shows are not about their vocations anymore, and they are pursuing vocations they have not been given, I am no longer interested, and I assume many others are not either.
Vocations are like that. I have a vocation of pastor that provides for me and that benefits others, if I were to attempt restoration or running a business, I might not burn down the house, but nor would I excel in the same way I do in my God given vocation.
If the people of Pawn Stars and Counting Cars and American Restoration know what they are best at then they will return to their prior format; otherwise, they may continue to lose viewers like me, who enjoy watching people do what they are good at, and not what they are poor at.