Once upon a time, there was a television channel that prided itself on teaching the world about history. It was during a time when information you’d find on the internet could be trusted, and when there was still a level of truth to the information you’d find it there. Back in those days, the History Channel flourished!
This channel was once known for airing documentaries that covered many different topics, not all history related. It was home to many films on World War I and II, and it appeared to be a father’s television paradise. Something strange happened, though – almost overnight, the entire network changed. They suddenly were showing shows about truckers on icy roads and about swamp people… What happened to the History Channel?
The Rating Boost They Needed
It appeared that, somehow, a channel known for showing documentaries on historical events didn’t get the television ratings they had hoped for. This certainly explains why the channel started to move away from documentaries and stories centered around historical accuracy and moved into the world of truly strange video content.
The History Channel started to move toward content that spewed conspiracy theories and a series of other puzzling “documentaries.” Some of these would claim to find aliens and Bigfoot, while others would claim that aliens had built the pyramids. The network seemed to go downhill as it slid into the skid – emphasizing the content that got the best ratings.
Ice Road Truckers Faced Its Own Challenges
After the History Channel started moving away from actual history content and into reality shows and all that jazz, they started to produce a show about truckers who worked in icy regions. The show was called “Ice Road Truckers,” and it portrayed the difficult lives of truckers in the iciest parts of Canada and Alaska.
The show itself has been criticized by sources like Truck News, claiming that many aspects portrayed on the show were dramatized for the sake of ratings. Real truckers and trucking media would challenge the show and claim that some of the danger was just all-around fake. That wasn’t even the worst of it…
The Ice Road Kidnapper
In 2013, tragedy and scandal hit this show like a ton of bricks. That year, Ice Road Truckers star Timothy Zickuhr kidnapped a woman and held her for ransom. He abducted and held Lisa Cadeau for ransom after hiring her for sex work while in Las Vegas. Everything started because he felt he was overcharged…
Zickuhr summoned the sex worker he had hired because he felt he was charged an extra thousand dollars and asked Cadeau to meet with him to “settle” what he felt she owed him. Well, no debts were settled – instead, he decided to kidnap her by dragging her to his apartment before torturing her.
She’s More Than a Victim
Lisa Cadeau was lucky to make it out alive, though her kidnapper certainly made her question everything she knew. He dragged her to his place of residence and beat her before tying her up by her backpack straps and shoving her into a closet. He then dumped a bucket of cold mop water on her.
Zickuhr underestimated the woman he chose to take advantage of. He kept demanding a ransom, and as a result, Cadeau gave him the phone number of an undercover cop. She claimed he was someone who could pay his ransom – but ultimately, he was the person who would catch him in the act!
The “Ancient Aliens” Show Had Racist Undertones
Ancient Aliens is one of the History Channel’s least historically accurate shows – just because the word “ancient” is in the title, that doesn’t mean it was accurate. This show was known for men with questionable hairstyles spewing ridiculous conspiracy theories about aliens, among other things.
The show also made it on to a less-than-helpful list that pointed out the problem areas that came with this program. The show made its way onto the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog. Maybe it’s because this program spewed many conspiracy theories about indigenous groups, but it could have been a number of different reasons…
“Ancient Aliens” Had Ideas That Should Have Been Left in the Past
This program offered a perspective that we know is utterly incorrect. They got into the conspiracies that African, Asian, and Native American architectural masterpieces could only be traced back to one thing: alien involvement. This is an age-old idea that many people just cannot seem to grasp.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog pointed out that comparing ancient artifacts of Native Americans to aliens was also a racist method used by President Andrew Jackson when justifying the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Tons of literature in the white-supremacy-extremist genre make similar claims, saying that ancient indigenous civilizations weren’t responsible – just ancient Aryans.
“The Kennedys” Was Too Controversial to Air
Though they have appeared to lose sight of their roots, every now and then, the History Channel’steam still creates some cutting-edge content on historical figures and events. One of America’s most famous politically connected families is the Kennedy family, which is where our story begins.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to hear that the network questioned if their content on the family was OK to air on television. There was even a multi-million-dollar mini-series commissioned on the Kennedy family that was abruptly canceled. What could be controversial enough to throw this major project out?
Why Was the Docuseries Canceled?
There are many reasons why the Kennedy family docuseries was canceled, and $30 million went down the drain. The series consisted of eight parts, all of which relied on the constant flow of rumors about this prominent political family. How much of it was factual?
This docuseries was instantly targeted by allies of the Kennedy family after a draft of the script was leaked early on. They spoke out and demanded rewrites upon rewrites, but after some months of filming and rewriting the script, History ultimately axed the project as a whole.
Don’t Mess With the Kennedy Clan
This was a super high-profile project that ultimately flopped. They were unsuccessful, and the project was pulled for what was referred to as “wall-to-wall slander and lies” about this prominent family. The official statement released by the channel was that it was “not a fit for the History brand.”
One of the co-creators of this mini-series, Joel Surnow, felt it was necessary to defend himself and his project in an interview with The Atlantic. He believed his strong politically conservative views might have had something more to do with the project being pulled, but there are even more ideas that come with this!
Conspiracists Love the Kennedy Family
This famous political family seems to find themselves at the center of conspiracy theories. After Joel Surnow’s controversial interview, several theorists came out of the woodwork to support his cause. Many of them accused the History Channel of giving in to the requests of surviving Kennedy family members.
That theory was a favorite. It turns out that theory wasn’t really needed because the docuseries was eventually released elsewhere and received horrible reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called it “dull,” “unwatchable,” and “a ham-fisted mess.”
The “Swamp People” Cast Constantly Got Into Trouble
So, this is one of the few shows that caused History Channel viewers to step back and think, “what the heck does this plot have to do with history?” This reality show is unexplainable – it’s unclear why they chose to create a show like this.
Instead of driving down icy Alaskan roads or shimmying through the pawnshops of America, Swamp People follows a group of alligator hunters in Louisiana. This sounds like the complete opposite of what viewers of the History Channel would look to watch in their free time. If anything, this show added some extra drama to these history-lovers’ lives.
The Alligators Were the Least of Their Worries
It seems that the cast of this swamp-centric show was not too worried about the alligators they were hunting. In fact, they appeared to be more excited about getting rowdy both on and off-screen. The alligator violence from the show was slightly exaggerated, and that’s not even the worst part.
According to TMZ, two of the stars of Swamp People were detained for some bad behavior. R.J. Molinere and Jay Paul Molinere were arrested for attacking a man with a beer bottle. In addition, Trapper Joe was arrested for burning his girlfriend with a cigarette and punching her in the stomach.
“We’ll Just Replace Them”
While the stars of Swamp People continued to make trouble, the network behind the show had to come up with a solution in the meantime. They were such troublemakers that the History Channel chose to just replace them instead of dealing with the fallout of their actions!
According to a report by Starcasm, most of the cast was fired last minute before the seventh season of this popular reality series. In true modern form, angered fans and fired cast members took to social media to voice their concerns. The platform held firm on their choice to remove these cast members.
“Bigfoot Captured” Was Entirely Fake
The History Channel has fed viewers some garbage over time, and one perfect example of this is the feature-length special they released about the hunt for and capture of the mythical creature, Sasquatch. Sasquatch goes by several different names, including the ever-popular “Bigfoot.” The History Channel released a completely fabricated project disguised as a “real documentary.”
Paste Magazine referred to the project as “a television abomination,” and it seems the publication wasn’t alone there. It was widely known that the channel made the project about a supposedly real forest ape but left a disclaimer that it was a “scripted story,” just very deep in the credits.
Amelia Earhart Documentary: Debunked
The History Channel thought they “solved” the Amelia Earhart mystery, only to have an internet blogger chime in and debunk their main piece of evidence almost immediately. Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence presented a picture of Earhart and her navigator alive in the Marshall Islands after she mysteriously went missing, and it caused some short-lived excitement, according to Vanity Fair.
The documentary suggests that Earhart did, in fact, survive that insane crash in 1937 and that the U.S. government knew she was alive but covered it up. But why? As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, there was nothing to go on because the evidence was debunked.
All He Needed Was a Library
Anyway, the History Channel only had a brief moment of historical victory before a blogger with access to a library exposed the truth. According to National Geographic, Japanese military blogger Kota Yamano decided to dig into Amelia Earhart’s fate and do a little fact-checking. He looked up where the photo was allegedly taken in the Japanese national library’s database and found the location in less than 30 minutes.
It turned out that in 1935, the photo was published in a Japanese coffee table book two years before Amelia Earhart took that fateful flight. Apparently, she wasn’t even the one in the picture, but even if she was, it doesn’t prove anything. The History Channel promised that a team of experts were “exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart” and will update the public with any new information.
The Curse of Oak Island’s Fake Documents
Everything about The Curse of Oak Island feels so ridiculous and fake. Like, “oh wow, look, it’s a piece of wood,” that likely has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that human beings have been making things for centuries, and the island is covered with wood. It just seems too stupid.
But since no one can be absolutely certain where the bits of wood came from, they claim it’s proof of buried treasure. Well, here is a piece of “evidence” that we know isn’t true: the Oak Island map that we saw in Season 6.
They Don’t Even Look Real
The map contains drawings of the island, and it looks like someone tore it out of a dollar tree journal, but the notes are in French – and that makes it authentic, right? According to the History Channel, the map is apparently supposed to be connected to another mysterious “Templar Document.”
But the man who was once in possession of both of those documents, Donald Ruh, said they have nothing to do with each other. Furthermore, Ruh believes that the Oak Island Map from the show is a fabrication, created in the 1970s. Needless to say, we need more “proof” than those two pieces of paper.
Giving Credibility to a Dumb Conspiracy Theory
It’s one of the craziest conspiracy theories in the world: The government is filling the air with chemicals in order to mind-control every human on planet Earth, make everyone sick, control the weather, or some other crazy motives. Most people understand how ridiculous this idea is because if the government was trying to secretly fill the air with chemicals to mind-control people, they aren’t doing a very good job at it.
Because of how far-fetched this conspiracy theory is, most of us don’t think about it. However, the History Channel thought it was worth devoting a program to explain the weather-specific aspects of this theory.
The Government Is Trying to Control Us
Lucky for us, they didn’t bring up the mind control part. But according to Contrail Science, the History special pretty much repeated the entire theory with no additional evidence, giving these whack-jobs who believe in it a platform, thus making the theory seem more credible. (Although the folks who do believe in this stuff run around shouting, “You can’t trust Contrail Science because they are totally in on it!”)
In a world where people already don’t trust science, some might consider it irresponsible for a network to air something like this on television. But then again, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I mean, I think it sounds crazy, but who knows?
Just a Big Casting Mistake
Producer Roma Downey stated that the uncanny resemblance to the (now-former) president was a total coincidence, and that the controversy was just nonsense and completely unwarranted – exactly what the devil would want. However, the damage was already done.
According to Time, when the producers for The Bible decided to shorten the series into a movie version, Son of God, they did not include Satan. They nixed him entirely, hoping it would make the viewers focus on Jesus instead. Satan is an essential character, but the controversy over the resemblance got out of hand.
You’re All Alone… Except for the Camera Crew
The reality competition show Alone is on The History Channel because everything you see in every episode is in the past. And by that I mean, everything was shot in the historical timeframe of six months ago.
If you’ve ever seen this reality show, you probably got the vibe that it’s trying to one-up Survivor by leaving its contestants in the middle of nowhere and then watch their journey trying to survive living in the wilderness alone. Who would sign up for this? Like, choose to do this? Luckily, none of them are naked, but that is because it was already done by another terrible reality show.
There Is a Town an Hour Stroll Away
E-Celebrity reported that one of the stupidest things that got viewers riled up was that the contestants are forced to navigate life in the wilderness, alone, miles away from civilization. Or at least that’s what the showrunners want you to think.
The truth is that in most cases, constants are just about one hour away on foot from the nearest town. Plus, sometimes they end up in a place where there are a bunch of trails which certainly seems to suggest they aren’t as isolated as we thought. But are you surprised? If there is one thing to remember about reality shows, it’s that they aren’t real!
The Mountain Man Got in Trouble for Building Code Violations
Who’s to say Mountain Men isn’t about history? The show is totally historical because it features people pretending to be living in the 17th century. The only difference is they watch TV when no one is looking. Someone should notify them that television didn’t exist back then.
One of the Mountain Men stars is Eustace Conway, and he teaches people how to be self-sufficient and how to become highly pretentious about their self-sufficiency. In Conaway’s bio, it says, “Like Thoreau, Eustace had gone to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, to see if he could not learn what it had to teach, and not when he came to die, discover that he had not lived.” Yeah, that’s the kind of guy.
Unfair Safety Standards
As a matter of fact, when Eustace isn’t being pretentious on the show, he is being pretentious on his 1,000-acre wildlife preserve in North Carolina. He actually teaches people how to live in the wilderness there for just $700 a week – or $65 an hour if you want to just stop by for an afternoon and ride around in a horse-drawn carriage.
The Wall Street Journal explained that the preserve was raided by health construction recently.Fire officials who confirmed that many of Conway’s buildings were “[not] fit for public use.” But you know, Daniel Boon’s outbuildings weren’t fit for public use, but we didn’t see health inspectors raiding his property. Modern safety standards can be so unfair.
Lumberjacks Illegally Logging on National Television
When I think of lumberjacks, I imagine dudes in plaid and overalls chopping down trees, driving pick-up trucks, and maybe pressing wildflowers like in a Monty Python movie. I wouldn’t typically imagine them pulling things out of water because they tend to be around trees quite often.
But according to NPR, there was once a time when lumberjacks used to put cut trees on rafts and send them down the river. Every once in a while, a tree would fall off and sink to the bottom of the water, but they didn’t rot down there. If the water was cold, the trees would stay preserved for quite a while until they could be salvaged.
But He Did It to Save Lives
There is one little problem, though: In the state of Washington, salvaging sunken trees is illegal. But that wasn’t going to stop Ax Man star Jimmy Smith from fishing the logs out of the water… in fact, he did it on national television! That could be perceived as extremely arrogant or ridiculously stupid.
Smith had an altruistic reason for what he did, though: protecting people who participate in water sports on the river, you know, in case their 11-foot oar accidentally gets stuck in the tree. He even said that “if I can save a kid or one boater, I think it’s worth it.” Yeah, I’m sure the money he got for the logs had nothing to do with it.
Pawn Stars Isn’t Real
One of the most popular reality shows on the History Channel has got to be Pawn Stars. Their goal is to shed light on the daily lives of the World-Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Similar to Ice Road Truckers, the show has received backlash for having a pretty loose definition of reality. Plus, the actual store got in some trouble over some of its merchandise.
They may have even melted down $50,000 worth of stolen coins, according to ABC News. But the most valuable things in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop are the Pawn Stars themselves.
The Pawn Stars Got Sued
In 2012, Huffington Post reported that the former talent agents of Pawn Stars were suing some of their old clients for switching agencies and asking for a hefty $5 million in lost commissions. The agency, Venture IAB Inc., claimed that History Channel executives purposely seduced the stars away from their original agencies.
They convinced them to hire Venture rival Michael Camacho of UTA to represent them instead, making Venture miss out on the millions they could have made on that sweet Pawn Shop TV drama. What happened with the lawsuit is unclear, which often means it was dismissed or settled out of court.
The Truth About Chumlee
Austin Lee Russel is a fan favorite when it comes to Pawn Stars. Better known as Chumlee, he comes across as the comic relief at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, where he tends to be the butt of the jokes. He’ll randomly impress his co-workers with his incredible pinball talent.
More frequently, he’ll utter his lines in a way that tells viewers that the money is only barely keeping him on the show. As it turns out, in real life, Chumlee is not whimsical nor comedic. What did I tell you about reality shows? Don’t believe everything you see on TV!
He Avoided Jail Time
According to USA Today, police searched Chumlee’s house after he was charged in 2016 for sexual assault allegations. They did not find enough evidence to convict the reality star for sexual assault, but they did find drugs, including marijuana and meth, in his stupidly named “Chum Chum” room.
There were also illegal firearms found in the room, along with some items that tend to be found among people who package and sell narcotics. However, despite being charged with quite a few felonies, he was able to avoid jail time with a plea deal, according to The New York Times.
Spreading a Debunked Conspiracy
If they aren’t talking about aliens or pawn shops, there is a good chance that the History Channel is following up on a debunked conspiracy theory about Hitler. After all, in the ‘90s, the show was jokingly (sort of) referred to as the “Hitler Channel,” and they certainly haven’t forgotten their roots.
Variety reported that the show Hunting Hitler upset plenty of people by trivializing Hitler and giving credence to strange conspiracy theories about how he escaped to Argentina. The program was depicted like a cold case reality show without much acknowledgment of the fact that Hitler is a little less whimsical than Bigfoot.
They Broke an Anonymity Promise
What was even more upsetting is the fact that the History Channel promised anonymity to one of their main sources and then proceeded to broadcast his entire face very clearly to more than 180 countries.
According to The New York Daily, the grandson of a Naz* war criminal agreed to appear on the program, under the pretense that his face would be hidden to protect him from the viewers who are enthusiastic about watching Hunting Hitler. They do blur his face out for the most part, but it doesn’t matter because it was completely visible in one shot. Clearly, it was an editing mistake, but it could lead to serious issues for someone who declared his grandfather was a Naz* on television.
Danny Koker Said Ignorant Things About the Environment
I don’t really see how Counting Cars is about history, perhaps because cars were invented in the past? Either way, Danny Koker is living his hippy-hating, car-loving, masculine stereotype with its roots in a simpler time, when people didn’t care about trivial things like being able to breathe or see the horizon. But are you surprised?
After all, he is a car guy and enjoys combustion engines, really loud noises, and incredibly high speed. But unfortunately, none of these things are very compatible with a world in which people like to do things like breathe and see the horizon.
Global Warming, Hello?
“Prius, I’ve got no use for,” he revealed in a 2013 interview with the Canadian Morning Show. “If it gets 4 miles to the gallon and has 800 horsepower, I’m thrilled. We’ve got more oil than we can shake a stick at. The politicians are playing a game. Let’s burn this stuff and have a good time.”
Okay, Danny, we get it. Clean air isn’t really good for your bottom line. However, you should keep in mind that most of us don’t have $40 to spend a day on a 5-mile round-trip commute. So maybe take a little time to rethink your strong opinions about the fuel economy.
Rick Dale Was Called Out for Lousy Work
When your livelihood depends on your reputation for high-quality work, and suddenly, your work is broadcast for a wide television audience, it would only be in your best interest to ensure you keep producing high-quality work. It’s only logical.
Some people may feel like fame put them on top of the world and that it will last forever, but let’s remember, that’s how Spencer Pratt felt too. Who the heck is Spencer Pratt, you ask? Exactly. My advice to reality stars should be obvious – continue producing high-quality work! Sadly, there is one reality star who didn’t follow that simple advice: Rick Dale.
He Didn’t Fix the Jukebox
In 2012, Rick Dale from American Restoration was called out for restoring a 1950’s-style jukebox, but he didn’t actually fix the old thing. He had the jukebox for two months and did a wonderful job making it look good, but when the owner got it back, he said the jukebox wasn’t working, and part of their agreement was to restore it to working order.
It’s nice to have a good-looking jukebox, but what you really want is to have it play music, especially if you’ve paid an astonishing $4,000 to make it look good and work well. Not only did Rick Dale not even acknowledge the fact that his work wasn’t done, but he also cashed the check and ignored his customer’s phone calls. Very professional, Rick.
Where is Frank on American Pickers?
In 2013, Frank Fritz from American Pickers revealed that he was struggling with Crohn’s disease. During seasons 8 and 9, he took explained his absence on Facebook: “A lot of you have been wondering about my health and my weight loss. I have an illness called Crohn’s [disease], which at times is difficult to deal with. I started losing weight and ran with it!”
He added, “I have been exercising and eating good… thanks for all your kind words of concern! I couldn’t do what I do without all of you!” During the lockdown, Frank was apparently quarantining in Le Claire, Iowa, and his partner claimed he was getting back surgery.
Did Frank Leave to Focus on his Health?
During an interview with The Sun from his Le Claire farmhouse, the former reality star looked shockingly different to his heavier appearance on TV and admitted the real reason he was off American Pickers. Since Frank first appeared on American Pickers, he lost 65 pounds, which he attributes to a healthier lifestyle he’s been on as he continues to battle Crohn’s.
He told the Sun that “the weight loss is me watching what I’m eating so I can keep my disease under control the best I can. I’m just eating healthy.”
Drinking and Weight Loss
“After a while, I started watching what I’m doing a little bit more waking. I keep pretty busy around here too, taking care of the grass and getting rid of the weeds.” He added, “Not drinking helps with weight loss because when you drink, you eat. I’m not dieting.”
He went on to admit, “I was drinking a little bit too, but that didn’t work out either; I haven’t had a drink for almost nine, ten months. It would have been a year, but I had one slip up; it was maybe for four hours, but it was enough.” He also admitted that his nasty breakup leads to his excessive alcohol consumption: “I tried to drink her away.”
Fans of American Pickers were disappointed to find out that Frank Fritz will not return to the reality television show alongside his partner Mike Wolfe. He officially announced his departure on July 21, 2021. Wolfe took to Instagram to confirm that Frank will not be returning to American Pickers.
Mike posted a photo with him, Frank, and co-star Danielle Colby; Mike wrote: “I have known Frank for as long as I can remember; he’s been like a brother to me. The Journey that Frank, Dani, and I started back in 2009, like all of life, has come with its highs and lows, blessings and challenges, but it has also been the most rewarding.”
Setting the Truth Straight
He continued, “The support that you all have given us has been a constant reminder of what the show’s message has always been; thru these places, people, and things, we all have a common thread. We’re here to not only take care of the past but also each other.”
He finished off with: “I will miss Frank, just like all of you, and I pray for the very best and all good things for him on the next part of his journey.” Frank fired back at Wolfe’s bullsh*t statement, expressing that it’s been years since they even talked and that Wolfe didn’t even call him after his back surgery, which prevented him from returning to the show during the global pandemic.
Earlier, Frank told The Sun: That was a big thing about coming back to the show. How can I come back to the show 65lbs lighter? But then he said, “I’m not going to sit here, and f*cking lie to people,” he told The Sun.
“And if he doesn’t like it, then maybe he should have f*cking called me. Maybe he should have called and said, ‘Hey, how’s your back doing?’ He knows I hurt my back; everyone in the while network knew I hurt my back, but did one person – just one – call and saw how I was? No. so how does that make you feel? It makes you feel like just a number. It was ‘Oh, you hurt your back? Well, life goes on, you know. F*ck you.”
Before quitting, Frank said, “I would like to come back to the show, but we will see. I was doing it for 11 years, but there is a lot of controversy going on right now.” Frank also brought up his difficult divorce after almost nine years of marriage.
Mike previously stated that the reason Frank was absent from the show was that he was recovering from back surgery. But Frank said, “My bad is doing perfect. I had a couple of rods put in there. It was from lifting stuff all the time.”
Doing the Heavy Lifting
He went on, “if you watch the show, you can see who the guy is that’s lifting all the time; it’s always me. It had been hurting for a long, long time. I’m talking months and months.” Frank is still unsure when and if he will ever return to the silver screen on American Pickers.
He also stopped posting to social media, claiming, “It’s all fake; all that stuff on Facebook is fake. I don’t have a Facebook; I don’t have any idea what’s going with that.” He added, “I’ve never posted anything on there, so everything that’s on there is a f**king lie. I have no idea who is posting that stuff; I don’t even have a computer.”