Q: How authentic was "Parking Wars" on A&E? Was it staged?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Apparently not -- "Parking Wars" is cited as one of the more realistic reality TV shows to come out of the A&E stable.

It actually began life as a documentary produced seven years before the series debuted in 2008, and many of the show's regulars from the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) appeared in that original doc feature.

Another piece of evidence in favor of its accuracy: The PPA originally agreed to do the show as a way to boost morale among its officers. "On that side, it has worked very well," PPA spokesperson Linda Miller said in a 2009 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Citizens now go up to greet our officers on the street."

That's a testimony to the magnetic power of TV stardom, because it's not as if the show depicted the officers as nice guys. Indeed, despite the show's popularity in the ratings, the city actually worried it would have a negative effect on tourism because outsiders would be afraid to bring their cars there.

"With the advent of 'Parking Wars,' we have a whole other set of emotions to deal with, which is: How are visitors going to be treated by the people of Philadelphia?" Meryl Levitz, president of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation, said in the same Inquirer article.

The conflict the show raised between two municipal agencies is further proof of its veracity, and shows why the producers didn't feel the need to stage anything: parking is a dramatic business.

"Sometimes an idea is so simple, it doesn't need the kind of 'help' usually offered by production in order to ramp up the dramatic stakes of a reality show," ScreenRant TV critic Alexandra August said. "'Parking Wars' is one such phenomenon."


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