Kent Knapp, the patriarch of the Milwaukee Blacksmith, a family-run business creating custom works of iron, doesn’t really dress the part of a blacksmith. Perhaps as a result of his life experiences in trendy Milwaukee, he dresses more like a hipster with his fedora, black-rimmed glasses, beard, and tattoos. He certainly has the build for the work of working iron, but the rest of his profile is fittingly appropriate for reality television. In physical appearance, he recalls a bulkier Jackson Galaxy of My Cat from Hell fame.
This is an unexpected departure from the pattern set by West Coast Choppers, the spiritual proof of concept for this show. Not only does papa Knapp himself talk and dress in a categorically different way from the crew at Choppers, Tanked, or the slew of reality shows with the similar premise featuring burly men and their families doing DIY engineering projects, but this time the business is providing a service that seems comparatively odd in contemporary times. Perhaps this is why the show was picked up by the History Channel.
At first glance, Blacksmith seems to be nothing more than an auxiliary time filler on the History Channel, having as much to do with history as Tanked on Animal Planet has to do with education about animals. However, it is more relevant than its biologically-inclined counterpart because it airs after another series called Forged in Fire, where weaponsmiths compete to create the best blade. Forged has proven to be a decent money-maker for the channel as it is currently in its third season. Blacksmith and Forged appear to be fitting well with the current direction of the network as programs which are only tangentially related to history but which are sufficiently unique in premise to potentially bring in more curious onlookers to watch the sideshow.
The first season of the series has finished airing and response has been generally positive. IMBD users grant it a little over 7 out of 10, which means it is considered quality reality entertainment television. While there is not much of a problem in terms of its popularity, there are rumors flying about that the proprietor of the business can hardly pay his rent in Milwaukee’s “third ward”, known as the arts and fashion district of the Wisconsin city. It appears that, while fascinating from a historical point of view, the business of blacksmithing isn’t due for a comeback any time soon and might be best relegated to small projects sold at museum gift shops rather than a business feeding a family of five.
In looking through the roll of the History Channel’s past offerings, one will find that they don’t have as many one-off reality shows as other cable channels. Theirs has been a history of short documentary miniseries’ more than anything else. Their move to more reality television in the style of the rest of the industry has been a fairly recent development. Granted, they do have some very successful shows in this vein, such as American Pickers, which has lasted 16 seasons, but it does not appear that #MilwaukeeBlacksmith has the broad appeal of a long-standing show. The first season has finished its run, but as of yet, a second season has not been announced.
As soon as word is brought to us, we will let you know. When History announces a season 2 for this show or when it cancels
What are your thoughts on this reality series? Do you think Kent should allow Birdie to pursue his dreams? Are there any projects you would like a blacksmith to do for you? Are you worried about the lack of safety equipment in the smithy? Give us your comments and opinions down below.