A&E and the producers of the channel's hit reality show, Storage Wars are being sued for wrongful termination and fraud.
Bringing the lawsuit is former Storage Wars star Dave Hester (pictured), who was portrayed as the show's 'villain' for three seasons; but now claims the real villains are the show's production team.
Hester claims that nearly every element of the show is staged--including the contents of storage units and the outcome of auctions.
(More bizarrely, he also insists that the show also paid for female stars to undergo plastic surgery so they could increase their sex appeal.)
Setting aside the question of cast boob jobs, Hester's allegations aren't entirely new, and Storage Wars is hardly the first reality show accused of rigging the outcome. (See "New Allegations of Reality Show Rigging.")
(UPDATE December 13: Reality Blurred reports that Thom Beers, Executive Producer of Storage Wars admitted to scripting dialogue and "occasionally" moving items from one storage unit to another. )
But, Hester maintains the manipulation on Storage Wars has risen to a criminal level.
Is he right?
I've written an in-depth analysis of the case but the quick version is:
- All reality TV is intentionally deceptive. (Okay, maybe not all--as folks pointed out on an extended Twitter conversation, reality TV is a giant, diverse genre and can't be pigeonholed into one thing)
- But no court is likely to rule that every reality TV show is committing fraud by deceiving its audience.
- But that doesn't mean we shouldn't draw lines in the sand and punish shows that go too far.
What is too far? I'm not sure I know.
What do you think?
If Hester is right about the alleged manipulation do you think it was different from what other reality shows do? Do you think it was/should be illegal?
I think, as reality TV viewers, we need to have these kinds of conversations. We need to turn a critical eye to the genre we love and be willing to acknowledge its flaws.
I look forward to your comments--and to watching the drama of this lawsuit unfold.
(Maybe even more than I look forward to A&E's new show, Storage Wars: New York which premieres in January.)
Photo © A&E.