Temple, OK – Large Marge Walker doesn't negotiate. She listened to the man's sad story, patted her pregnant belly, and offered him five bucks for the antique gold watch, take it or leave it. As the man slinked out with the single bill, Executive Producer Sean Gannon gave her two big thumbs up.
Large Marge stars in the new TLC series Preggo $Pawn, now the seventeenth reality show set in a pawn shop, joining such breakout hits as History Channel's Pawn Stars, TruTV's Hardcore Pawn, and Disney's Kiddie Pawn.
TLC, formerly known as the Learning Channel, adds Preggo $Pawn to its Fat Tuesday lineup, featuring Hoarders: Of Cheetos, Sumo Toddlers & Tiaras, and Say Yes to the Huge Dress.
“We are reality!” beamed channel president Skip Tracy.
“People got stuff,” Large Marge explained. “Sometimes I give 'em money for it. Sometimes I don't.”
And there is still room for more pawn shows, according to industry insider Chester Maxwell. “It's not the premise," Maxwell said. "It's the personalities. People want to watch weirdos.”
On Preggo $Pawn, Large Marge carries on a constant dialogue with her fetus while cursing customers and her ne're-do-well husband, Muddy “Noodle” Walker, himself a regular on Discovery Channel's Hillbilly Handfishin'.
However, some see the glut of pawn shows as symptomatic of something else: economic decline.
“Pawn shops are the banks of last resort,” said Professor Keith Moon. “It's the end of the road.”
Indeed, that road runs through several other reality shows, from out of work compulsive Hoarders, to desperate shoppers on Extreme Couponing, foreclosed squatters on Betting the House, and homeless defaulters on Storage Wars.
“That's synergy!” exclaimed Skip Tracy. “It's beautiful.”
Additional new shows in the so-called “recession” reality genre include Bankruptcy Busters, Credit Card Roulette, Eviction Men, and Extreme Makeover: Hobo Edition.
Large Marge doesn't care why people watch. In fact, she doesn't own a TV, despite the half dozen sitting on her shelves. “Grab ass waste of time,” she said. “Rather be knocking boots.”
But Gannon the show's producer has an idea. “Schadenfraude sells,” he declared. “We bring the voyeur what they really want to watch, the misfortune of others.”
With the economy showing no signs of improvement, recession reality appears here to stay. TLC is already trumpeting a new primetime summer slate including Extreme Food Stamps!, Hoarders: Homeless Shelters, and Soup Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, along with a new slogan.
“It's not TV,” Skip Tracy smiled. “It's reality."