By Tim Kenneally
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – From the Gosselins to the Hogans to the Armstrongs, cable reality shows have amassed huge audiences as their subjects’ family lives have simultaneously unraveled.
But Discovery Channel might be taking it to a whole new level with “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior,” by creating a series specifically around the family tension.
The series was born out of the ashes of “American Chopper,” which shuttled back and forth between Discovery and its sibling channel TLC from 2002-10, shortly after the unhappy Paul Jr. was fired from his father’s custom motorcycle shop, Orange County Choppers of Newburgh, N.Y.
Watch: A Sign Of Progress?
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So how bad have things gotten between the Teutels? As of the recent season 2.5 premiere of the conflict-oriented series “Senior vs. Junior,” pretty bad.
As of Monday night’s episode, the father and son did manage to settle a $100 million lawsuit, stemming from the son’s firing. (The father had taken the son to court in an effort to force him to sell his 20 percent share in the company.)
But this does not seem to signal any happing ending for the Teutel clan.
For starters, the health of the family business appears in question, with elder Teutel getting seriously behind on $12.5 million worth of mortgages for Orange County Choppers’ Newburgh, N.Y. headquarters — the property was foreclosed on last year.
On the show, the decision to default on the loan has been spun as a strategic decision by the elder Teutel to gain better terms with creditors on a sprawling property that has seriously devalued since its purchase, but no resolution to the company’s pending housing crisis seems at hand.
Then there’s the not-so-warm dynamic between father and son, which — following the settlement and several years of courtroom bickering– doesn’t appear too close to thawing.
“Maybe we can have some healthy competition now,” the father said to the son, who has since spawned his own local motorcycle shop, Paul Jr. Designs.
For its part, Discovery has thrived playing up this conflict, with 2.7 million viewers tuning in for Monday night’s episode — the highest rating of the show’s season-two campaign.