First airing on A&E in 2008 and concluding in 2012, Parking Wars follows the daily lives of parking enforcement as they ticket, boot, and tow parking violators vehicles. The secret to the show’ success, however, was watching the enforcers interact with disgruntled and sometimes violent offenders on the street.
While some viewers found the premise incredibly entertaining, there’s no doubt that it had its fair share of controversy. Take a look behind the scenes of Parking Wars to learn inside information on the series’ creation, filming, and how it became problematic.
It’s Rumored That Many Of The “Confrontations” Are Scripted
Like numerous other reality television series, Parking Wars has been suspected of orchestrating many of the aggressive interactions between the parking authorities and disgruntled citizens. Obviously, this is to help increase the drama on the show, and while many viewers are willing to look past it, some are not.
However, while some editing may have occurred for the sake of entertainment, there hasn’t been any proof that any of the situations were set up. Surely, enough people get parking tickets and have their cars towed on a daily basis that they wouldn’t need to stage anything.
Clarence Had His Own Car Towed By The PPA
Clarence Nichols was on the show from the start, working as a Philadelphia Parking Authority enforcer, driving a tow truck. His job was to roam the city towing illegally parked cars or repossessing the cars of people with thousands of dollars of unpaid tickets.
Being a tow truck driver on the show, one would think that Nichols would have a clean record, especially when it came to parking. Ironically, that’s not the case, and Nichols once had his personal car towed by the PPA. He claims that he had lent his sister the car for a few days.
Vinny Got Into An Unaired Quarrel With A Priest
In season six of the show, Parking Wars expanded their geographical boundaries and were now filming in North Hempstead, New York, a suburb of the city. The new city made its debut on the show in 2012, featuring a short-fused parking enforcer named Vinny.
While Vinny’s personality made for great television, it didn’t make him the best employee. At one point, Vinny got into an altercation with a man who claimed he was a priest. Still, Vinny remained aggressive and argumentative. Unfortunately, their encounter never aired.
Jeff Widman Admitted Something Shocking
Jeff Widman is a Philadelphia Parking Authority enforcer who had been on the show since it first aired. Over time, he got the reputation of being the attractive guy on the show and a favorite among female audiences.
However, Jeff eventually spilled the beans and admitted that he likes his job because it puts him in the position to meet a lot of women. Quite a bold statement coming from someone who is in a position of authority!
More Cities Were Added As Ratings Began To Fall
Initially, all first five seasons of the show were filmed solely in Philadelphia. It also only focused on a small group of PPA employees and their experiences on the job. However, when they noticed viewership was beginning to decline, the showrunners decided that it would be smart to expand their horizons.
For season six, the show introduced new parking enforcers in Detroit, Michigan, and Philadelphia was eventually dropped altogether in season seven. Other cities were then added including Providence, Rhode Island, Trenton, New Jersey, Staten Island, and North Hempstead in New York.
The Show Made Philadelphia Look Bad
After Parking Wars got its start in Philadelphia, it wasn’t surprising when the Philadelphia Parking Authority started coming under fire both from the city and its citizens. The PPA is a government-run agency who are expected to perform their job with respect for the city and those who are unfortunate to have a run-in with them.
However, while getting into arguments with citizens, tourists, and motorists make for entertaining television, it gave Philadelphia a bad look. The show made it seem like the city’s government employees were out to get people and were aggressive.
Philadelphia’s Mayor And Pennsylvania’s Governor Refused To Watch The Show
While tourists and citizens alike were unhappy with the show and heavily enforced parking rules, their complaints fell into the laps of Philadelphia’s mayor and the governor of Pennsylvania.
Although they despised the show as well, they explained that they had no power over A&E, and were unable to shut down the show or change how they portrayed the PPA. The only thing they could do is to encourage people not to watch the show in hopes that it gets canceled on its own. Of course, they refused to watch it themselves.
People Have Filed Lawsuits Against The Show
Although many people would do just about anything to get on television, two women from Staten Island wanted off. Back in 2013, Regina D. Dale and Danielle Bermudes filed a lawsuit against A&E for being filmed without permission in an episode that presented them in a bad light.
The women filed for joint compensation of $750,000 and punitive damages, also requesting a permanent injunction barring the use of the footage taken of them. Their lawyer felt they had a good case and feels countless people had been misrepresented by the show.
Some Offenders Owe Tons Of Money
When watching the show, seeing so many people’s cars get booted or towed away may seem a little harsh on the parking authorities part. However, viewers don’t always get the full story on why some offenders are so severely punished.
As it turns out, some people who have their cars, towed, booted, or worse, auctioned off, usually owe hundreds or thousands in unpaid parking fines. If audiences knew this, they might be a little more understanding of the PPA’s actions.
The Series Negatively Affected Philadelphia Tourism
Although the show eventually dropped Philadelphia as one of the cities in the series, low ratings weren’t the only reason. Countless Philadelphians, including prominent members in local government, began to take notice in the lack of tourism since the show had come out.
Apparently, the local tourist board had been receiving numerous letters and emails from viewers who proclaimed they would never visit Philadelphia after watching the show. They claimed they were intimidated by the PPA, and those who had visited before were complaining about the increasingly strict parking laws on account of the program.
Some Of The Cast Have Become Local Celebrities
DeAndre Hubbard, better known as “Ponytail” on Parking Wars, has been a parking officer for the city of Detroit for 21 years. He enjoyed the job even though many people saw him as “the evil guy.”
In turn, the show turned him into a kind of celebrity on the streets of Detroit. He claims that “Being on the show changed my whole life working on the job.” While people used to look down on him, now they yell, “Get that money, Ponytail!”
Producers Wish They had Made Some Changes In The First Two Seasons
When asked if they would change anything about the first two seasons of the show, producer Dan Flattery admits he wishes he could have shown the brighter aspects of the job. Instead of just showing footage of people being furious about getting a ticket, he wanted to demonstrate how many people express their love for the cast and show during filming.
In an interview, Flattery explains, “People come to the impound lot to take photos of these guys you see on the show. There are a lot of fans, and we don’t see that. We don’t get to show that as often as it happens.”
The Show Has Been Accused Of Being Racist
Many people have complained that the cast of Parking Wars and A&E as a whole have racist tendencies. They claim that many of the cars that they ticket, boot, or tow tend to be in low economic areas, mainly neighborhoods that are primarily African American.
On top of that, people have argued that they make edits or specifically target people who look “ghetto” for entertainment purposes. The show has also been known to use subtitles when some African Americans are talking, negatively portraying them as illiterate and uneducated.
They Have A Selection Process For The Cast
Obviously, in the seasons dealing with Philadelphia, there are many more PPA employees than the cast on the show. So, they had to filter through a lot of them to decide who they actually wanted to be the faces of the series.
While some people backed down from the initial offer, others went through an interview process. Those that were selected were the employees who could best articulate their experiences and their duties on a day-to-day basis.
There’s No Shortage Of Swearing
Of course, any show that has people getting tickets or having their cars towed is going to result in some disgruntled individuals. While some might people kick themselves for getting a ticket, others tend to be more aggressive. At times, people sure don’t hold back on their cursing and can end up saying some pretty awful things.
Considering that the show is on A&E, cursing isn’t allowed, so many of the altercations are censored. Sometimes, you can’t even hear what’s going on because so many words are bleeped out.
It Was Supposed To Be One Documentary
When A&E executives first thought about following the daily experiences of the Philadelphia Parking Authorities, they didn’t think there was enough material for a show. However, they decided to run with the idea, except it was going to be a one-off documentary.
Yet, when the documentary turned out to be a success in 2001, they realized that they might have something on their hands. As it turns out, there was more than enough material to make into a series.
The Film Was Re-Released
Once the show was in full swing, A&E re-released the original documentary under the title “The Lost Pilot.” However, some die-hard fans who had seen the documentary in 2001 found this strange as it was never lost or used as a pilot episode.
Yet, the renaming of the documentary worked, and many viewers tuned in to see what this “Lost Pilot” was all about. It was an opportunity for viewers to watch their favorite Philadelphia Parking Authority’s first time in front of the camera.
One Cast Member Died Before The Show Aired
Philadelphia Parking Authority employee Martin Anderson was a fan favorite in the first season of the show. He was a tow truck driver and was featured on the first and fifth episodes of season one.
Yet, most fans were unaware that Anderson had actually passed away before the show was even aired. There was no mention of his passing on the show, and most fans learned of his death when A&E posted a tribute on their website.
There Was Almost A Narrator
There were seven years between original Parking Wars documentary and the first episode of the show, so some changes were made. The biggest change made between the documentary and the show was that the documentary had a narrator.
The narrator’s name was Daniel Jenkins, whose job was to fill in the audience on any background they might have missed. This job was then given to the Philadelphia Parking Authority to create a stronger bond between the cast and the audience.
The Documentary Was More In-Depth
Dropping Daniel Jenkins as the narrator wasn’t the only change that the A&E network decided to make. The first film followed the PPA through the entire process for anything that involved their job as a parking enforcer.
This means that they showed the enforcers issuing tickets, collecting fines, putting boots on vehicles, and even repossessing cars. The film also showed the PPA staff seizing vehicles which were then auctioned off in order to pay fines. However, this part of the job was dropped from the series to promote on-street confrontations.