American Chopper

First there was network television. Then there was cable TV. Then came all these specialty channels: for weather, sports, cooking, travel, science. Some of them delivered excellent content and became the go-to for its subject like ESPN. Others, veered slightly off topic in the name of entertaining you like The Discovery Channel. Some days I felt that it used that name to make its audience feel like they're not wasting their time but getting an education.

A hot show on The Discovery Channel was American Chopper, which chronicled the daily progress of a high-end custom motorcycle fabrication shop. They would make special, one of a kind themed motorcycles meant for a VIP customer, celebrity, or even organization. In some cases they built bikes for charitable purposes like the firemen's guild 911-themed bike.

"Why do you have to be so stupid?"

American Chopper's subject was Orange County Choppers, headed by Paul Teutul, his son Paul Jr. and other son Mikey. Paul Senior looked like a biker, was gruff and would commonly be getting riled by the selfish antics of his son, who was only half-way motivated to contribute to the shop's duties. Brother Mikey would generally stay out of the way of the shouting and chair throwing.

"I don't know, why do you have to keep interfering?"

This was the infancy of Reality Television, where like pro wrestling the cameras encouraged 'fake' outbursts or excessive jawing. The days and hours were burning away while their client eagerly awaits the finished project.

But then BOOM! The motorcycles would fall from the lifts. Or the paint is delayed a week. Or Paul Jr. is nowhere to be found.

To this day Paul Sr. had got his chopper show back on the air, but he still owes millions to creditors and has eight lawsuits pending. American Chopper was one of the more entertaining reality shows when it aired. He built that business single-handedly after quitting alcohol and working hard. Let's hope he can turn things around a 2nd time.

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