As family patriarch Paul Sr.'s divisiveness caused major tension with head bikebuilder Paul Jr. and others in the shop, Mikey was always the show's soul -- the lovable, goofy comic relief sorely needed to get between the two territorial bears clawing each other's faces off. Without Mikey, the show never would have lasted the seven years it's been on.
Think about it. Here's essentially every episode of 'American Chopper' in a nutshell: Design and conceptualize a new bike, yell for 40 minutes, show off shiny new bike. To break up the monotony of the same thing happening every episode, there needed to be something that had a bit of spontaneity and flair. That was Mikey.
He seemed to be the only one who could diffuse Senior's tyrannical grip on the shop, whether it was via slapstick comedy or his inherent ineptitude around the shop. As Paul Jr. pranced around in mirrored sunglasses and a beard that looked like it was finely honed with an Exacto knife, Mikey oafed about with hair that hasn't seen a comb since the millenium and a carelessness about life that made everyone else seem like egomaniacal fools. As the show and machismo among the rest of the crew grew, Mikey was the same guy in season six that he was in season one.
In a massive throwdown last year, Junior screamed that OCC "would go to sh-t" if he weren't the one in charge of design. Then, in true hotheaded Teutul style, a chair was launched at a wall (really, are we 12 years old? Grown men having these types of tantrums with such frequency is quite unsettling). Looking to follow suit in an equally inefficient and barbaric manner, Papa Teutul then raged against the machine ... only the machine in this case was a garbage can.
"I'm still getting stepped on, and I need to make a separation," Senior told the New York Daily News last October. "My health was starting to deteriorate."
It's no wonder Mikey is the funny, lax one. He likely had to morph his personality and temperament that way as a defense mechanism. Otherwise, he'd be just as violent and aneurysm-prone as the rest of his family.
The shop tension eventually led to Paul Jr. leaving OCC to start his own design firm, and Paul Sr. eventually sued Paul Jr. for $1 million in stock options according to TMZ. And while a separation from Junior was in need, Teutul didn't foresee the show's demise just yet. "I think I've got another two or three years, maybe," he said of the show in October 2009.