Guilty Pleasure No. 38: Shipping Wars


Do you remember Shipping Wars?

It’s okay if you don’t.  I have to admit that, up until yesterday, I had pretty much forgotten about it.  Shipping Wars was a reality show that aired, for three years, on A&E.  From 2012 to 2015, the show followed independent contractors as they transported various weird things across America.  It was produced by the same people who did Storage Wars and, like that show, a good deal of emphasis was put on the various contractors competing against each other to get the biggest contracts and secure the most profitable paydays.  As I said, I had pretty much forgotten about the show until yesterday.  That’s when I came across a Shipping Wars marathon on the FYI channel and I was immediately reminded of just how addictive this stupid show could be.

A typical episode of Shipping Wars would open with all of the shippers (as they were called) hanging out in their trucks and staring at their laptops.  All of them competed for shipments in timed auctions held on uShip.com.  (Basically, the entire show was a commercial for uShip but I’m too much of a capitalist to care.)  Typically, each episode featured two auctions.  Once the shipper had won their auction, it was then up to them to transport their cargo to a new location without destroying it or arriving late.  That may sound simple enough but it was rare that anyone managed to pull of either one of those requirements.  That can only mean that it’s either really difficult to transport stuff or that all of the shipper on Shipping Wars were amazingly incompetent.

Of course, the camera crew would follow each shipper as they made their journey.  The shippers who did not win the auction would randomly pop up to offer up sarcastic commentary on how their rival was doing.  The commentary was notable for how thoroughly petty it often got.  For instance, if a shipper got caught in a rain storm, you could just bet that someone would remark, “It looks like your approval rating’s about to go underwater.”  If a truck got a flat tire, the commentary would usually be something like, “Way to check your tires before getting out on the road, dumbass!”  What they shippers lacked in wit, they made up for in pure spite.

Spite defined most episodes of Shipping Wars.  One of the remarkable things about that show is that absolutely no one ever appeared to be in a good mood.  It wasn’t just the shippers who seemed to be terminally annoyed.  The people shipping the stuff often seemed to have an attitude.  The people who received the stuff almost always turned out to be jerks who tried to get out of paying the full amount that they had agreed to pay.  And the shippers themselves were always in a thoroughly crappy mood.  Roy Gabler, one of the most prominent of the shippers, was infamous for referring to almost everyone he met as being an idiot.  Shipping Wars presents a portrait of America where everyone has a chip on their shoulder and absolutely no one ever bothers to say thank you.  Since I hate the forced sentimentality of most reality shows, I’ve always appreciated the fact that literally everyone in Shipping Wars was just out for themselves.

The other fun thing about Shipping Wars was seeing some of the things that needed to be transported.  One of my favorite episodes featured a wedding cake that was driven across country in an unrefrigerated trailer.  Needless to say, the cake did not survive the trip.  The  previously mentioned Roy Gabler had an affinity for transporting weird things, like classic movie props and, in one episode, a water tower.  Nothing fazed Roy.  No matter what he was transporting, he was always equally annoyed.

Unfortunately, Roy died shortly before the start of what would be the show’s last season.  Shipping Wars never recovered from the loss of Roy’s perpetually annoyed tone of voice and it was canceled in 2015.  As I discovered last night, you can see reruns on FYI.  Or maybe you can just go on uShip and ask if anyone’s willing to move a cursed house from Texas to Vermont.

That should get their attention!

(For the record, the above clip is a parody but it still perfectly captures the feeling of Shipping Wars.)

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish

10 responses to “Guilty Pleasure No. 38: Shipping Wars

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