Watching “Antiques Roadshow” is a background holiday tradition—one of those activities that’s never remarked upon but happens every year at my grandmother’s place. Without those hours spent with PBS, I’m convinced the real traditions would fall apart. At the dinner table, Nana holds forth like the show’s host Mark L. Walberg, or better yet, like executive producer Marsha Bemko. Around the table, we’re alternately experts and students who’ve stumbled upon something someone else can help explain.
Well, that’s bullshit, but still. The holiday season means basic cable, which means “Antiques Roadshow,” which means a few hours spent guessing if heirlooms and flea market gems are fake and, if they aren’t, how their authenticity translates into value, at auction or for insurance purposes. This is the drama of “Antiques Roadshow”: experts litigate authenticity, then turn personal stories and provenance and wear and tear into cash. At the end of each segment there’s the same question, whether it’s asked outright or not. Will they sell it?
I usually can’t get enough of this show, but this year? There’s something about watching experts on TV decide what’s fake that feels fake. Pointless. Disingenuous. Who cares?? What are the other questions could we ask? To find out, keep your TV on PBS, but open a new tab and join me for a different kind of drama on “Antiques Roadshow”’s Facebook page.
Here is a page of wonder. There are no appraisals here, only questions, posted a few times a day by random people about their random stuff.
Toby looks for ideas about the ceramic witch. Joyce wonders if anyone recognizes the signature on a poster that she calls Japanese, then African. Michael has some questions:
There are no experts here, but there is Randy. He’s the only familiar presence in the “posts to page” section, and he relishes his role as de facto moderator. Watch him demand photos of the backs of objects; suggest alternative Facebook groups that could be helpful; link google searches with sass: “I googled this for you.”
On the Facebook page, an object is allowed its privacy, its secret lives. Is it fake? Maybe. But who cares?
FAKES is The Awl’s year-end holiday series for 2017. You can read the whole collection here.