Not that this is breaking news, but the Discovery Channel/TLC network has been making money off of a father-and-son struggle for years now, and the American public has eaten it up. Are we all proud of ourselves?
American Chopper started out as a show about a father-and-son team that built custom motorcycles for different companies and events. Over time, however, Paul Teutul and his son, Paul Jr., had a falling-out. Paul Sr. fired Paul Jr., and their business was split up. They now run competing bike shops in New York, and despite the father-son drama and lawsuit, cameras kept rolling, even when Paul Sr. had asked otherwise. Once Paul Jr. was past a lawsuit-mandated non-competition period, the network came to him, asking if he’d be building bikes again, and if so, if they could film him for the show. Paul Sr., less than four miles away in his own shop, told the show that he wasn’t interested in doing a show that pit father and son’s shops against each other. The network threatened to cancel Sr.’s portion of the show if he didn’t agree to it.
The rest, as they say, is history. Comments from both Sr. and Jr. seem to indicate that their relationship has been stressed more by the show’s constant filming, which is done in two separate locations by two separate crews.
Is the American Chopper storyline appropriate for television? Or should Paul Sr. and Jr. have focused on their private lives instead of making their now-ratings-snatching relationship a commodity?
Sauce: NY Times