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 despite its fairly dry subject matter, this series can be lots of fun, especially for viewers with an interest in antiques, history, and craftsmanship. Experts put each featured item in the context of its historical and cultural background and often include biographical information about the creator. Auctions sometimes include vintage weapons or items related to smoking (a cigarette holder, for instance), but they're never shown in use. Some sellers may appear slightly greedy as they watch their earnings climb, but the series' focus on their predetermined goals for the money makes their reactions understandable.
What's the story?
In the British series CASH IN THE ATTIC, antiques experts work with regular people to weed through their superfluous possessions and identify the valuable ones, which they then take to public auctions to sell. In each episode, the host visits a new family to get some background on the origins of the family's collectibles, to help them set a goal for their auction earnings and to learn what plans they have for the money -- whether it's upgraded home appliances, patio renovations, airline tickets, or, in one case, a swanky cage for a pet bird. Then, accompanied by an antiques pro, they roll up their sleeves and set to the task of uncovering treasures hidden among the excess in their home. When a notable piece is found, the family and the appraiser discuss what they know about its age and history, and the expert offers an estimate of its potential sale price. Once they've amassed enough items to reach their monetary goal, they pack them up and take them to the auction house, where viewers can calculate along with the presenter as to whether the family will meet their goal.
Is it any good?
Despite its distinctly dry (and often dusty) subject matter, Cash in the Attic blends families' personal dramas with intriguing tidbits of culture and history, with a few moments of suspense as they await their grand total. The series also works in some professional advice for viewers on buying and selling antiques. Getting tweens to tune in with you could be a hard sell, but those with an interest in history or craftsmanship may very well be sucked in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the historical and cultural significance of the pieces in each episode. Where did the items come from? How old are they? How were they made? What were they used for? Did they have emotional significance to the family? Families can also discuss how an object's value is determined. What is the rule of supply and demand, and how does it affect the cost of an item? Tweens: Do you think everything has a price? Is there anything you'd never part with no matter what? Families can also share the history of their own heirlooms.
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