‘Hardcore Pawn’ Sets Ratings Record For TruTV

Hardcore Pawn set a ratings record last night as it returned for its seventh season on the TruTV cable network.

The hit reality show on the network formerly known as CourtTV is based at American Jewelry and Loan, a 50,000-square-foot, family-owned pawn shop on 8 Mile Road in Detroit. Les Gold, a third-generation pawnbroker, operates the business with his sometimes feuding son Seth and daughter Ashley along with a large staff.

The 9 pm Eastern premiere drew 3.2 million viewers, the network’s best-ever season opener, which included 1.6 million viewers in the all-important 18-49 demographic. Viewership also increased 36 percent over the season six premiere. Hardcore Pawn originally debuted in December 2009 and has steadily built its audience.

The show has made master-negotiator Les Gold a celebrity who is cashing in with corporate speaking engagements around the country as well as a new book coming out in June. American Jewelry and Loan’s business is also apparently thriving, which includes an online site.

Hardcore Pawn has some similarities with Pawn Stars on the History Channel in that people bring in interesting and sometimes weird items to the shop and negotiate a price with Les Gold and/or other family members or staff. However, unlike the History Channel Las Vegas offering, the show regularly features some off-the-wall TruTV-style, in-your-face confrontations between the Golds and equally aggressive customers that appear staged for the camera.

In virtually every episode, for example, an edgy customer comes in trying to pawn a diamond ring or necklace, finds out the jewelry is fake after one of the Golds examines it with an eyepiece, starts flipping out, and has to be forcibly removed from the premises by security.

In a 2010 interview, Les Gold insisted that the show is legit: “‘We’re a Detroit-made business that represents what real pawn shops do,” Gold says, adding that there won’t be any staged antics, products or characters. ‘Just a wide range of real people who need money.’ ”

In an interview last month, Les Gold added the following about the realness of his reality show:

“The draw that TruTV has really focused on was the reality of what goes on in a real pawn shop with real people. People stand there, and they’re pawning their merchandise and you see the big lines of people bringing stuff in. That’s really one of the things that’s a big draw, so the difference between us and everybody else is the reality that TruTV shows you.”

TruTV has also claimed that what you see on the screen is “true,” i.e., none of these incidents on Hardcore Pawn are staged.

Are you a fan of Hardcore Pawn and do you accept the premise that none of the incidents in the show are a put-on?

Given the family name, are you surprised the business isn’t called “Gold’s Gold and Loan” instead?

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