YUUUP! According to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by Storage Wars star David Hester, the popular A&E reality series is as fixed, phony, and fraudulent as they come.
In the complaint against Original Productions and A&E Television Networks, Hester alleges that the Communications Act of 1934 has been violated, "which makes it illegal for broadcasters to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public." Drawing consistently high TV ratings since its premiere in 2010, Storage Wars follows a cast of characters who participate in auctions for abandoned storage lockers, hoping to strike gold amongst the old mattresses and cheap endtables. Inevitably, one of the buyers discovers a rare antique or valuable collectible that ends up covering the cost of the locker while the other competitors bust out or break even. Portrayed as the villain of the show, Hester claims that every aspect of Storage Wars is manufactured, from the scripted interviews to the plastic surgery that "one of the female cast members" underwent, paid for by the producers to "create more 'sex appeal'" (as if they could get any sexier than Darrell, am I right?).
Outcomes are also manufactured, as Hester—the owner of a successful consignment business and an auction veteran of over 26 years—says that Original financially assists the weaker competitors to increase the drama. His most damning charge is that the producers regularly "salt" the lockers with valuable or unusual items, naming in particular a BMW mini car and a stack of old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley, and sometimes stage the entire contents of a locker for dramatic effect. Hester admits that he originally provided the producers with items from his own warehouse, but subsequently halted this practice on moral grounds after the first season. The result was that items acquired from an antiques business were still planted in the other competitors' lockers, making them appear to be more skillful bidders than the experienced Hester, described as "The Mogul" on the show. Although A&E had informed Hester that they would be renewing his contract for the next cycle of Storage Wars, he was terminated after addressing these fraudulent accusations in a meeting with producers and cast. Represented by attorney Marty Singer, Hester has requested a jury trial and is seeking in excess of $3.75 million in damages for wrongful termination, breach of contract, breach of good faith, unfair business practices, and declaratory relief.
For a while there, every other weekend was a Storage Wars marathon on A&E, so it was hard to miss and I started watching it whenever it was on. As a formerly faithful viewer, this lawsuit confirms every feeling I had that caused me to stop watching. It all felt so artificial that it turned me off of the show. I do find the plastic surgery accusation funny, because as far as I know there's only one regular female cast member and she does indeed have somewhat of an... "augmented" appearance.
How do you feel about Storage Wars? Does this lawsuit have any merit?