PBS’ competition reality series Market Wars: antiques dealers compete for “bragging rights”

This summer and fall, PBS will air Market Wars, a 20-episode competition series during which four antiques dealers complete to find antiques and get the most money for them at an auction that will conclude each hour-long episode. While PBS has aired Antiques Roadshow since 1997, and this new series comes from its producers, it seems like a clear response to the popularity of cable series such as Pawn Stars and Storage Wars.

On the show, antiques dealers are “pitted against the clock, a budget and each other — and embark on nationwide treasure hunts, scouring flea markets and antiques shops for vintage valuables. The goal: to score the biggest profit in each show’s final auction segment,” according to a press release. The winner only gets “bragging rights,” perhaps because this is public television.

Asked about that by a critic predictably freaking out that reality TV would decimate PBS—and apparently unaware of the long history of reality TV to air on PBS, from An American Family to American High to the wonderful historical house series—PBS president, Paula Kerger, said, “I think it’s clear that reality shows have not taken over public television, but we think that there’s a place for smart reality programming. And Antiques Roadshow continues to be such an important destination for so many of our viewers that we thought to expand upon that work a little bit on Monday nights and to give another opportunity for people to look a little behind the scenes at the antiques business, and to really learn from people that are doing great work around the country would be an extension of that, so we’re happy to bring it into the schedule this year.”

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