Discovery Channel's Street Outlaws follows the Oklahoma City street racing scene where "you're nothing if you're not on 'The List.'"
What's "The List," you ask? It's a running tally of the 10 best street racers in OKC, manned by none other than Street Outlaw's head honcho, Justin "Big Chief" Shearer. As Discovery Channel explains, "you've got to challenge someone else who's ranked — and win," in order to move up a spot.
Drivers from all over the country, from Texas to Kansas City to California, head over to Oklahoma to battle it out for the top spots. The competition is "fierce, fast and merciless," but some viewers seem to think that the reason the show is so intense is that it isn't actually real.
So, is Street Outlaws fake? Keep reading to find out!
Is 'Street Outlaws' fake?
A lot of the talk around Street Outlaws, now in its 15th season, surrounds the fact that the street racing they do on the show purports to be illegal. Like, just look at the title of the show! And while the series began with that concept when it first started airing in 2013, they've now totally buckled up to make this Discovery Channel show as above-board as possible.
"The show itself wasn't actually illegal," Screen Rant explains in a cohesive breakdown. "Every race was cleared and permitted by the city the crew happened to be visiting that episode." So while it might appear like the racers are engaging in illicit activities, "the crew would put in for a permit, which would be either denied or approved by local officials," the source explains.
"To keep things extra safe and legal, local police officers would often drop by to keep an eye on the races and the roads were always shut down for the racers' private use," the outlet continues.
So yeah, it's really zero percent illegal, what they're doing on Street Outlaws.
That isn't to say that illegal street racing doesn't exist. It very much does, and some of the drivers on Street Outlaws participate in these races. Especially since what we see on the show is super regulated, safe and legal, many members of the racing crew still go back to their illegal local races for the thrill of it — those races are just not what we see on the show.
The best way we can sum up the reality of Street Outlaws is to say that the show is indeed based on the illegal races that once took place on the streets of Oklahoma City, where this Top 10 list was born. But when Discovery Channel jumped on board, they had to make sure they could get decent production value without actually breaking any laws.
In other words, Discovery offered Big Chief and his friends money to bring friends out and race on a closed road that they'd produce and make safe. As a fan explains on reddit, "you can see in the first couple of seasons these guys had more realistic cars and were more concerned with legal issues and paying their bills while upgrading their cars."
However, as the show climbed up the ratings and became more popular, "the guys who raced on the tracks decided they would challenge the TV guys, since there wasn't danger of being arrested and losing their licenses." Now, with sponsors and appearance deals given their rise to fame, "it was a natural transition for these guys to upgrade to track type race cars themselves."
Another fan chimed in to say that the show is "99% real." "The 1% is the fact that the road is rented out by Discovery/Pilgrim Studios and blocked off by the cops," they add.
So Street Outlaws is not exactly fake by any means, it's just produced and regulated so that filming can remain legit while still trying to keep the illusions up for audiences.
Whether you think this small detail makes it just 1% fake, or a complete hoax (like we said, "Outlaws" is still in the show's title, after all) is up to your judgment.
New episodes of Street Outlaws air Mondays at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.