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The Frank Fritz Moment That Went Too Far On American Pickers

As reality shows go, "American Pickers" is a pretty laid-back one. The concept of two guys driving around America to discover hidden treasures from people's attics, barns, and garages has proved so popular with the viewers that the show has 22 seasons under its belt, and the good-natured haggling element adds just enough fun tension to the road trip vibe of the series. Unfortunately, the show's chill facade eventually revealed a nasty rift between its main duo. 

Since it first came to light in the public eye, much has been said about the feud between "American Pickers" hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. In short, after Fritz suddenly stopped appearing on "American Pickers," the two reality TV stars shared a series of public statements about one another, revealing what appears to have been a considerable tension underscoring their former working relationship. As a result, Fritz's absence from the show continues, and will by all accounts remain permanent.

That said, during the 20 full seasons and handful of Season 21 episodes Fritz co-hosted "American Pickers," he left an indelible mark on the series. For example, Fritz at one point claimed that each of the scenes in which he and Wolfe meet with prospective antique sellers are unscripted. He then cited the value of filming genuine human moments as one of his favorite aspects of the job, which shows a genuine warmth that no doubt contributed to his appeal as a TV host.

On one particular occasion, however, an attempt at a comedic bit framed Fritz as unnecessarily petty. Out of the many, many scenes of the show, this may very well have been the single Frank Fritz moment from "American Pickers" that went too far.

Frank Fritz has a bone to pick with Mike Wolfe's cell phone use

Season 13, Episode 14 of "American Pickers" includes a scene, currently viewable on the History YouTube channel, in which Frank Fritz drives a van while Mike Wolfe speaks to an unseen third party on his cell phone in its passenger seat. Voiceover from Fritz then characterizes the noise of Wolfe's phone conversation as an interruption to the serenity of the open road. Although Wolfe is negotiating a transaction, Fritz argues that his business dealings are taking too long, and are an unwelcome staple of virtually all of their numerous road trips. Some onscreen math then accompanies Fritz calculating just how much time he's typically subjected to sitting silently through Wolfe's phone conversations.

Given the nature of most reality TV shows, this is fairly likely a scripted comedy bit, and as such, not necessarily a genuine grievance Fritz held against Mike. Nevertheless, the scene characterizes Fritz as a bitter and discourteous partner, who takes issue with the fact that his co-host chooses to use his down time to conduct business. In light of the fact that Fritz and Wolfe are no longer on speaking terms, this scene is all the more egregious — given that, even if entirely fake, it's now irrevocably colored by what seems to have been a very real, friendship-ruining tension.

Real events have made the scene seem much worse than it otherwise might be

Even if you assume that the cell phone scene wasn't scripted, it's not necessarily all that strange on its own. When two people spend a bunch of time together, it's not unheard of for one to slowly build up a dislike toward what they see as the other's disagreeable habits. As such, Frank Fritz's cell phone outburst could be a simple, passing moment of frustration — the kind that could happen to pretty much anyone.

However, in light of history, the moment shows in a very different, much less pleasant light. Since parting ways with the show, Fritz hasn't hesitated to throw a few verbal daggers in Wolfe's direction, as evidenced by his July 2021 interview with The Sun

"I haven't talked to Mike in two years. He knew my back was messed up, but he didn't call me up and ask how I was doing. That's just how it is," Fritz said, referring to back-related health problems that he said put him out of commission for a lengthy period. He also insinuated that the two men aren't exactly on great terms, and that he feels Wolfe may have wanted his exit so he could make his brother, Robbie Wolfe, a full co-host of the show.

While Fritz didn't outright insult Wolfe too harshly, he made clear that he thinks his former co-host has turned against him. Fritz also revealed that he feels that the fans like him more, even though Wolfe is the clear focal point of the show. Rewatch the cell phone scene with knowledge of such comments, and you might find yourself wondering just how far gone the two men's friendship was at that point.