Detroit’s ‘Hardcore Pawn’ Celebrates 100 Episodes

April 17, 2013

Hardcore Pawn, the made-in-Detroit reality series that sparks love-it-or-hate-it reactions from Detroiters like no other, achieved a coveted television milestone this week on truTV: the airing of the show’s 100th original episode.

The landmark half-hour, which aired at 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, on the cable network, also merited a special invitation-only screening Tuesday evening at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. Attendees included the series principals Les Gold, his son Seth Gold and daughter Ashley Gold Broad, proprietors of the now-legendary American Jewelry and Loan on Eight Mile at Greenfield.

HARDCORE100thTo many Detroiters, Hardcore Pawn is the prosperous, affluent relative you don’t talk about because you’re embarrassed by how he makes his fortune. The show launched its seventh season last month as the most successful series in truTV history, drawing the network’s largest audience ever in TV’s coveted 18-to-49 year-old demographic and routinely attracting more than 3 million viewers each week. The 100th episode, generally considered the benchmark for syndication purposes, means the Golds could remain TV mainstays long after the show ceases production.

However, much of the show’s success revolves around its crude, rough-and-tumble nature, marked by profanity-laced customers (and owners), violent in-store confrontations and physical ejections from the building by mountainous security people. It’s a consistent format that causes some locals to denounce the show for not depicting the city in a positive light to its worldwide audience.

Given that history, it was surprising that the 100th episode of Hardcore Pawn overpromised – through a weeklong series of promo commercials that vowed “100 times more” deals and action – and underdelivered. In contrast even to the first three shows of this season, Tuesday’s fourth installment seemed almost subdued.

This episode’s premise centered around an employee who devised his own side hustle to sell customers front-of-the-line privileges for a $3 tip at the door, causing havoc inside the pawn shop. Ashley, reacting to the irate customers waiting their turns, employed her detective skills to identify the culprit.

The family conflict in this episode arose over whether to fire Anton, the enterprising worker who conceived the tip-jar scam. Seth wants him out, no mercy or second chances. In the end, however, compassion came from a most unlikely source.

The highlight of the program, especially for longtime Detroiters, was the arrival of an immaculately restored, 1947 replica of a green Vernor’s ginger ale delivery truck that the seller was willing to part with for $45,000. Les ultimately walked away from the deal, but should have bought at any price. (Vernor’s is a symbol of Detroit, and the truck was very sweet).

However, the show’s laugh-out-loud moment occurred when a customer tried to sell Les an “I-Grow Laser Hair Growth System” – essentially, a heat lamp inside a goofy-looking silver helmet with suction cups and headphones – and Bobby, American Jewelry and Loan’s follically-challenged employee, volunteered to try it on.

The device caused the top of Bobby’s round dome to light up with a neon red glow.

“You look like a Christmas tree,” Les remarked.

“I look like a (bleep),” Bobby replied.

The kicker: the seller himself was bald. “Well, I didn’t use the thing,” he maintained. “I’m very happy being bald.”

First-run episodes of Hardcore Pawn air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on truTV.

Jim McFarlin writes about media for the Metro Times. Another version of this story, including reasons why Detroit should embrace Hardcore Pawn and the show’s Top 5 customer ejections of the season, can be found on McFarlin’s TV blog, Big Glowing Box. Follow him on Twitter, @BigGlowingBox.

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  • John Pullum

    I’m glad you liked my segment on @hardcorepawn . Still bald, John

  • Ray Monroe

    The program honestly shows live examples of “The Attitude” you find in the “D”. “GIRL, Don’t make me take my ear ring off girl and come over there and kick your a..” It just confirms what we already know about Detroit.

  • luis Rodriguez

    Les I am a big fan of you and you’re two kids I wish you give me a call at 813-486-6168
    my name is luis rodriguez
    I wish I could see you one day in person i love youre show thank you Les

  • CharlesM

    Les your very weak permitting your children to be so disrespectful. Seth and Ashley conversely, are overtly wrong so many times and yet they are such morons they don’t learn from their mistakes on T.V. no less? And Les as I told Donald Trump years back he isn’t self made as he was saying were it not for his dad and to give credit where it’s due which he did, I say to you although you do acknowledge Sam please keep in mind the 50,000 foot present store would never be had it not been for your dad’s much smaller one!

    But rain in your self made son and daughter because they are anything but self made!

  • queenie1

    LOVE this show! Kind of like a train wreck, I have to look.

  • Ted

    This show is disrespect to people. How can you treat so many people like they are dirt beneath your feet? Now if you like pawn shows the one to watch is Pawn Stars . It is Funny and you learn something. I would be ashamed of my Daughter if she treated people like Ashley on hardcore pawn. When she looks at herself on tv is she proud of herself???