The Great Big American Auction

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Great Big American Auction TV Poster Image
"Junk" brings big cash -- and big emotions.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show's goal is to help people who are having financial troubles by helping them sell their keepsakes, collections, and heirlooms. Brief information about authenticating and valuing antiques and collectibles is offered.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pennington uses auctions as a way to help people get a financial boost from stuff they own. Some people exhibit greedy behavior.


Venues like the Pasadena Flea Market and the Beverly Hills Heritage Auction House are prominently featured. Items like old Louis Vuitton trunks, X-Men and Captain America comic books, and celebs like Janice Dickinson appear.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality show has a few emotional moments when people in financial trouble are forced to sell valuable items. Their occasional frustrated reactions might bother sensitive viewers. Some people seem a little greedy, too. Consumer logos on items like vintage Louis Vuitton luggage and GT cars are visible. Younger viewers probably won't be too interested in watching.

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What's the story?

In THE GREAT BIG AMERICAN AUCTION, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington helps people sell some of their "junk" for much-needed cash. Hopeful people bring their prized possessions and family heirlooms to locations like the Pasadena Flea Market and Beverly Hills Heritage Auction, where Pennington has assembled a team of experts to appraise them. He also travels to people's homes, garages, and attics to look at unique or one-of-a-kind items. The stuff determined to have a high value is ticketed to be auctioned off at a sale that's open to local bidders, as well as to phone and online bids from all over the country. The owner of each item gets to stand on stage while the bidding is in progress and gets to see, first-hand, how much money he or she will make.

Is it any good?

The series offers a lively look at the unique items that people have in their homes. Some of the stories behind them are very interesting, too. But many of these people are also parting with beloved items for economic reasons, and watching them struggle through the process can be a little difficult to watch.

The likability of the people featured here makes it easy to root for them as the bids get started -- or feel bad for them when they're told that their prized possessions are forgeries, fakes, or have little cash value. You might also be inclined to look at the stuff around your own home and wonder if it's worth a lot of green.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about antiques shows. What gives an old item cash value? Do reality shows like this one help people learn more about the value of their possessions? Are these shows designed to motivate people to have their prized items appraised, or are they really just for entertainment? 

  • Is Pennington a role model? What is his career based on? Why do you think he agreed to do this show?

TV details

  • Premiere date: December 8, 2011
  • Cast: Ty Pennington
  • Network: ABC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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