A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that because this show documents the creation of custom motorcycles, it includes a lot of information and technical terms that most viewers probably won't understand. But there's still a lot of fascination to be had in watching such elaborate projects come together. Pauls Jr. and Sr. often irritate each other and share loud exchanges of some choice words, many of which have to be bleeped out. But it's obvious that each ultimately respects the other and that both think highly of their staff, with whom they share mostly good relationships.
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What's the story?
AMERICAN CHOPPER profiles the design shop of Orange County Choppers, which specializes in creating custom motorbike creations ranging from beautiful to bizarre. Each episode details the building of a bike created for a customer's individual specifications. Sometimes customers are celebrities (Jay Leno and Lance Armstrong both own OCC bikes), and other times the crew works with themes like Spiderman, Wendy's, or firemen who lost their lives on September 11. Staff members give overviews of the alterations and upgrades they make on each project.
Is it any good?
Paul Teutul Sr. is OCC's founder, and his massive tattooed arms, bushy moustache, and gravelly voice add to his already stern presence in the shop. While he leaves most of the work to his son, Paul Jr., he saunters in occasionally from his office to stir up some tempers (mostly his son's) or to join in the staff's excitement over a job well done. Paul Jr. takes charge of the hands-on work and is a constant presence during the entire design and construction process for each bike. While much of the jargon is a little too technical for non-gearheads, it's fun to watch their ideas take shape as the bike comes together.
American Chopper's entertainment value is high for young and old, making it an option for family viewing with tweens and up. The only iffy content in this show is the volatile temper Paul Sr. often unleashes on his hard-working crew. Parents may need to remind their kids that his anger is often bred from stress over problems with parts or an approaching deadline rather than a personal conflict with his staff.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the team effort that making these bikes demands. How does the team put their ideas on paper? What are the roles of each employee? How do they use teamwork to get to their goal? How do time constraints affect how they work? Parents can also use this show for artistic inspiration, sitting with kids to sketch their own custom motorcycles.