Monday, September 5, 2011

Buried Treasures on TV

Turns out, this is a pretty au courant time to be exploring interesting objects.  Recently, the subject has been exploding on TV, and now has a newest iteration in "Buried Treasure" on Fox.  I'm not a huge TV follower, but of course am familiar with "Antiques Roadshow," where ordinary people bring seemingly ordinary objects to be appraised by experts and find out they're worth whopping sums of money.  This is just the granddaddy of what is apparently called the "pawn-reality genre," and includes The History Channel's "Pawn Stars," Spike's "Auction Hunters," and Discovery's "Auction Kings," among others.  I'd throw into this list TLC's "Hoarders," because though of a very different sort, it's another show that is obsessed with things.

So why this popularity of shows about stuff?  Maybe in our materialist culture, people are just obsessed with things.  Or, maybe it is the stories and history behind objects that interests them.  Maybe they are intrigued by the high sums of money in which the shows deal.  Or, the shows could simply reflect the timeless Cinderella story: average people bring in what seems to be everyday junk, but is revealed to be valuable treasure.

Anyway, I let my curiosity get the better of me and watched the premiere of Buried Treasure.


Over-dramatization and corny graphics aside, there were actually some interesting aspects to this show.  In contrast to Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars, Buried Treasure actually brings you into people's homes, and gives you a greater sense of the everyday contexts of extraordinary objects and the significance they hold in the owners' lives.  In addition, rather than just valuing these treasures based on monetary worth, we see more their emotional value as a family heirloom or personal relic. And then at the extreme end, we see what happens when the objects take over a person's life.

As I go forward with this blog and my interest in objects, I wonder if it is even a good thing to be so interested in things: so quickly one can fall off the edge into materialism or at worst, hoarding.  There are a great number of wonderful, interesting, valuable objects out there, but obviously they are not the most important part of life.  At the very least, I hope the interest in these shows reflects that; they are just entertainment, after all.


  1. Did you ever see the show called Storage Wars? People bid on abandoned storage units. It is a gamble on what may be inside the unit, and then they sell anything of value they can. It is in the same vein as the other shows you mentioned, but what really bugs me about it is not knowing the story behind the units. Some of the units are just full of junk. Some are full of house lots full of valuable furniture and such. I would be more interested in how a unit like that became abandoned. What is the story of the people who used to own it? I am not that big on reality type shows, but my partner often has this on in the background while we are working on other projects and I catch some of it now and then. For me, the interest is in the people behind the stuff. Unfortunately in this particular show, I never get to know any of that though.

    Interesting post. I found you via Etsy Connect. Following you now! Best wishes.



    Art & Craft Blog:
    My Cancer Battle:

  2. Hi Miranda! Thanks for checking out my blog! No I haven't seen Storage Wars but it sounds pretty similar to Auction Hunters, another one of these shows on Spike (it's crazy how many they are!). I know what you mean--if I came upon an abandoned storage unit, I'd be itching to know the story behind it!