Storage TV Shows: Why So Popular?

With all the different reality TV shows on the boob tube these days, there’s no longer a reason to pick up a book or take a stroll outdoors. And why would you when you can watch herds of men fight over one bachelorette, tone-deaf hopefuls sing for the chance to be idolized, or rich socialites do absolutely nothing? 

And if these particular shows don’t catch your fancy, then you can choose from one of nineteen programs about storage units, storage auctions, antiques in storage, and pawn shops—which are all fancy ways of saying “cash for crap.”

Storage reality shows are one of the most popular types of television programming out there and have been since 2010. For example, 5.1 million people tuned in to the season two premiere of Storage Wars, which made it the most-watched show in A&E’s history.

In a world that offers literature, music, dancing, and ignoring people in coffee shops while you text on your smartphone, why choose to sit at home and watch folks bid on, sort through, and fight over boxes of abandoned junk? I’ve got three words for you. Which are below. Followed by a whole bunch more words. So really I’ve got more than three words—you know what? Just read on.

Here are three reasons why storage TV shows are so popular:

Voyeurism

Since the first caveman inadvertently peeked into his neighbor’s cave and saw a prehistoric woman removing her saber-toothed cat pelt, humans have been fascinated with what others are doing. Reality TV in general allows audiences to watch real people do allegedly real things. And why not? It’s a helluva lot more interesting than watching yourself do nothing.

If you’re observing others performing activities, and especially if you catch yourself muttering “I could do that way better,” chances are you’re trying to convince the neurotransmitters in your brain that it actually is you doing those things. So now, instead of caves it’s storage units, and instead of saber-toothed cat pelts it’s…well, it might actually be rare and expensive stoles. Or maybe just a bag of half-used kitty litter. 

Fantasy

There’s a reason that Fantasy Island was the top-rated TV show of all time. Okay, maybe not of all time. And probably not top-rated either. But boy was it popular! Imagine that: tuning in every Saturday night to watch people spend money to come to an abandoned island in hopes of living out a fantasy.

With storage shows such as American TreasuresWhat the Sell? and Hardcore Pawn, you can follow regular people as they go through the process of looking for the gold nugget among a pan full of gravel. And for the most part, we want these individuals to hit it big! But even if they don’t find actual pirate treasure worth a cool half mill, they might become a celebrity in their own right. And that, as we all know, is the great American dream.

Addiction

No one likes admitting that they are an addict, but when you consider how many coffee shops there are on any given city block, you’ll see that addictions don’t always involve a needle and a tourniquet. Hoarding is a medical disorder in which a person compulsively saves items, which creates clutter, and has difficulty throwing anything away.

Those who watch storage TV shows where buyers often discover pricey treasures among the piles of rubbish probably imagine that if they were to actually go through their stuff, they, too, might find that they’re sitting on top of (quite literally, in some cases of extreme clutter) a gem. Now, if only they could actually turn off the TV long enough to start searching.

We’ve all heard—or made—the joke that those who can’t do, teach. This implies that your English professor is a failed novelist, your driving instructor couldn’t make it as a NASCAR racer, and the self-esteem coach you hired is an unsuccessful narcissist. In the case of storage TV show viewers, well they’re just unsuccessful treasure hunters who couldn’t make it off the couch.

Selena Templeton

Selena Templeton is a writer and editor who sees the world through Giggle Glass, a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display plus false nose and mustache. It reveals the absurd, amusing, and inappropriate goings on of daily life and displays it in a lap top-like hands-on format, from which she posts to various blogs such as Self Storage Finders, Romantically Challenged, and SelenaTempleton.com. As a former professional organizer and a current Virgo, she is a self-diagnosed authority on storage, packing, organizing, and general neat freakishness.

Latest posts by Selena Templeton (see all)