On the Front Lines With “Parking Wars”

With "Reality TV" producers plumbing the depths for every conceivable confrontational scenario, it’s a wonder it took so long to strike the rich vein that is the put-upon motoring public. But thanks to "Parking Wars," the wait is over.

This new show, on the A&E Network, follows the Philadelphia Parking Authority as its agents ticket and boot scofflaw drivers while suffering abuse at every turn. Presented without commentary, save for cheesy effects and cheesier music, "Parking Wars" pits the irresistible force of the entitled motorist against the immovable object of the PPA bureaucracy. Caught in between are PPA employees, whose jobs are so psychologically taxing — the possibility of physical confrontation is always as near as the next ticket — they should qualify for combat pay. If the producers are rooting for one side over the other, it’s hard to tell, as the "cha-ching" sound that comes with every levied fine is balanced by the portrayal of traffic agents as regular Joes working a thankless gig.

In this clip, watch what happens when a hothead who’s racked up a "ton" of tickets gets booted after parking on the sidewalk. Then straight-talking agent Brian gives a lecture on civic courtesy to an irate woman as she stands watch for a double-parked friend.

"It’s never their fault they’re parked illegally," says Brian. "It’s always my fault I happen to be there to write them up."

Video: MsYbf/YouTube

  • parkowitz

    classic! when are they doing the NYC version? I want to see Marty Parkowitz getting jiggly and indignant.

  • mfs

    In the second one, the car owner’s reaction at the end is awesome.

  • Hilary

    So now everyone knows how to saw off a boot. Nice PSA.

  • Mark

    My favorite line was “51 bucks? That’s a lot of Happy Meals.”

  • Reality check

    You found that line funny, but you do realize that this classism is what stirs up empathy for the motor-victims. You are making a mistake if you see this video as helpful to our cause.

  • I wouldn’t worry; the audience is meant to and always does side with authority in reality shows. The satisfaction of watching some real-life schlub getting dressed down is the sad secret of their success. In this case it might at least help people understand that there is a reason for parking enforcement. That is, look at all these pitiful cases, everyone has an excuse and if we let them all off there would never be any available parking (for you, virtuous viewer, who never parks illegally).

  • Josh

    I’ve never done it myself, but I have to imagine being the guy/gal who writes parking tickets must be a pretty thankless job.

  • Reality check

    We must be living in two totally different realities, if you think most viewers identify with the enforcement officer. This radical dissonance will make selling CP hopeless.

  • Eric

    I haven’t seen the show myself, but I would guess that they occasionally write a ticket to some Master-of-the-Universe Wall Street or white-shoe law-firm type who does wonders in making traffic enforcement seem downright cuddly.

    Remember that guy in the SUV who intentionally ran over some guy’s bike a few months ago? That type of dude.

  • “We must be living in two totally different realities, if you think most viewers identify with the enforcement officer.”

    In the context of reality television, it’s not even a question. There is no identification, just ritualistic humiliation. People that are going to feel some human sympathy for the “perp” in a reality show (whether it’s a suspect in COPS or a disgruntled customer in Airline) simply do not watch them. (That includes me.)

    “This radical dissonance will make selling CP hopeless.”

    Because I have a pet theory about reality television, pricing is doomed? I don’t even know what you’re trying to say, but even if I’m wrong about how people view this video its relationship to pricing is a thin one. Hey wait a second… “CP” … is this phatcat43? (OMG look what is going down in that thread! Ha!)

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