The Return of Paul Junior

One of my most highly read Celebrity Semiotic articles — “The Family Tragedy of American Chopper” — dealt with a father’s destruction of his sons on a reality television show.  One of those misbegotten sons, Paul, Jr., is going back on television with his tormentor.

TLC is reviving “American Chopper” — with the estranged Teutuls going head-to-head in competing bike shops. The new show, “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior,” begins filming next week and will premiere in August.

It focuses both on the original Orange County Choppers business run by Paul Sr., and Paul Jr.’s startup bike shop. The new shop, Paul Jr. Designs, is located across from the original OCC shop in Rock Tavern, NY, near OCC’s Newburgh site.

The hook? Father and son haven’t spoken in over a year, ever since Senior fired Junior from the family business.

The split effectively ended their long-running reality show. TLC axed “American Chopper” last February and, in an ugly legal battle, Senior is demanding the return of Junior’s 20 percent stake in OCC. After a brief reconciliation, Junior rode out his one-year non-compete clause and moved into his new shop last week. Father and son remain at odds, with no resolution in sight.

I find the impending — and sure to be ugly — reunification of the Teutuls on television incredibly disappointing.

Paul Jr. was cut free from his bully of a father — but he ultimately returns for more demonstrative emotional and intellectual punishment.  Is that entertaining, or is it just an MMA fight with motorcycles and arc welding?  I think it is evidence of a genetically seeded human catastrophe. 

I understand Paul, Jr. need to make a living, and the TV money will help him get his shop started — but sharing screen time again with the very man who tried to break you and destroy your future — is a masochism I do not comprehend.

6 comments

  • Gordon Davidescu

    Anything in the name of cold hard cash, I suppose — but at what a cost!

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  • The sons must be numb to the abuse, Gordon, as it is likely the only emotion they share with their father. The pain is familiar, and on some level, comforting.

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  • I just starting watching this show and I happened upon this blog the other night. Actually, I find this whole thing heart breaking. I recently watched two shows that were actually heart warming and such a departure from where the family is now. I watched the show where they toured Europe (England, France, and Ireland). Sr, Jr, and Mikey seemed to get along well and Sr had a smile on his face quite often (except for his sore back). And the other show was about the bike they made for Jorge Pasada from the Yankees. They took grandma to a game and she was thrilled to death. To see all of them interact as a family is really sweet. However, get them all back in the shop and all hell breaks loose. It’s obvious that Jr and Sr can’t work together and it’s sad that because of this they gave up their family bond as well. And for what it’s worth I believe Jr was the design brain of the organazation and OCC will suffer from his absence. And by the way, I know Mikey wasn’t worth much to the business and I’ve read some harsh critiques about him. I’m sad that he developed his fathers’ problems with the drink but I’m glad he sought treatment and I hope he’s doing well. I’m not his dad so I’m not worried about raising him. I don’t work with him so I’m not suffering from his lack of effort. But I sure would have liked to pound a few beers down with him. I find him hillarious and witty in his own special way. He’s like a rich mans dog- he’s provided for, loved by everyone, and carefree as all hell. He’s my hero!

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    • Your comments about Mikey are interesting, Dave. Of all the sons, he does seem like the one who is most lost, and the one who most misses contact with his father. Danny and Junior will be fine no matter what happens, but we do get the sense that Mikey is still adrift and confused and searching for meaning in his life — and that search can be a good test of willpower as long as it doesn’t end in the bottom of a bottle.

      I think Mikey is haunted by his father and I think he may think he shares the same demons — and he’s scared of where that biological legacy may lead him. Instead of turning to a angry, burning ember looking to spark at any perceived insult, Mikey has instead taken the opposite approach to be ultimately cool and nonchalant and without any real responsibility — and that can be just as damaging to a future and a current psyche as what we’re seeing in Senior’s behavior.

      What Mikey needs is a grounding, a tethering, and an anchoring to something real and reliable and non-abusive — but he must earn that freedom on his own. He can’t continue to freeload and to be curious pet that performs to earn laughter and a lunch. Mikey needs to become serious about his lift beyond drawing and painting and hanging out and become a man on his own terms beyond his father’s shadow if he ever hopes to carve his own astute path in life. He needs to pick up and move to California and start his life from scratch. That would be a good start to get away from his father repression and his sibling co-dependency.

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      • All true. However, the older Mikey gets the harder that will be. Like I said, I’m not Mikey’s dad so I’m not offering any advice on what he should do. I was merely stating an observation from watching the different interactions. When I socialize on the weekend with friends and family we joke, carry on, and try to forget life’s pressures and dissapointments for a little while. We don’t council each other (well, not unless one of us is being a total ass). You are absolutely right that Mikey needs to be his own man and figure out his own path. Is moving away to someplace fresh and starting over all alone the best move? I don’t know. Loneliness and isolation in itself is hard to deal with. Ideally, his brothers and friends should be having these conversations with him. And where’s mom? Is there anyone better than mom to point out the issues of the past and how he needs to put all that behind him? Again, I’m not trying to offer any kind of quality advice here because I’m not qualified to do so. I was just saying that Mikey seems to have a fun personality. And now that the family has imploded I watch the older episodes with a heavy heart. I believe I saw a comment here that said sr should welcome jr back, have jr buy him out, and then sr can retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Isn’t that what we all want out of life? Retire, play, travel, spoil the grandkids? I guess that’s the “dry drunk” in senior that’s preventing him from seeing that. So sad. So very sad

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        • Mikey and Paul’s mother has been on the show. She’s quite beautiful, young, and tough.

          She was especially featured on the episode when Mikey left rehab and had lost weight, had a shave and a haircut and he looked really great.

          He’s grown it all back, though, and is back to looking schlubby.

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