American Chopper

This is the third installment of a 10 part review on American reality shows.

I’m not into motorcycles – never have been.  Choppers are kind of cool though.  When I think of a chopper, I’m reminded of the classic 60’s film, Easy Rider.  Despite the coolness of a chopper, I never intended to get hooked on a show about a bike shop that makes custom choppers.  Like many successful reality shows, the appeal of  American Chopper for me anyway is not the bike building so much as the interaction between the people who make them, especially the stars of the show, the owner, Paul Teutul, Sr. and his two sons; one a builder himself, Paul Teutul, Jr. and Mikey, a budding comic and artist whose role is comic relief.

Paul Senior or just Senior as he’s called in the shop is a legendary chopper builder who grew Orange County Choppers into a successful business.  He’s a body builder who looks strikingly similar to Hulk Hogan.  A lot of what airs on the show is Senior yelling and criticizing his son Junior for not working hard enough or long enough.  The constant carping wears on Junior who fires back with barbed quips.  The two seem to be in constant competition.  In fact, the latest series is called Senior vs. Junior: American Chopper.  The other guys in the shop mostly stay out of it all, but occasionally play along.  All enjoy a good practical joke.

Anyone into motorcycles might find the fabricating interesting – from custom made handle bars, exhaust pipes and gas tanks to the artistic detailing on all the bike components.    The bikes are generally commissioned by businesses but sometimes donated or built to support charity causes and unveiled at the end of each episode to great fanfare.  Overall, the process of building and unveiling is a compelling and entertaining experience. But it is the human drama that unfolds between the three stars that is the most fascinating to watch.  At times, their interactions are intense, even disturbing.  But there are lighter moments, that are quite often hilarious.  American Chopper, a real family, a real business and real good show – the real deal.

Rating:  A-