Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Deadliest Catch

Lately I've been feeling a little disenchanted with reality TV. Survivor's format started getting boring several seasons ago (though I'm still watching for some reason); I'm not really rooting for any of the contestants on this season of the Amazing Race, which takes a bit of the edge off my love for it (don't yell at me Red, I still like it); after a good start, I haven't been exactly champing at the bit for the next episode of Real Housewives of Orange County; my brief fascination with that lurid show about obnoxious rich kids didn't prompt me to tune in for another episode, and the Real World is just . . . no. Way too old for that. But just when my couch-loving ass was beginning to wonder whether I could survive strictly on a diet of scripted programming, especially as we're getting ever closer to the dead zone of summer, I stumbled on a new obsession: Deadliest Catch. The show (in its second season on the Discovery Channel, who knew?), follows several boats fishing the Bering Sea for Alaskan king crab.

I have a sneaking suspicion that none of my fellow junkettes will find this show as fascinating as I do, but just in case I wanted to throw it out there. I can imagine the question: what pop culture junkette in her right mind wants to sit on her couch watching non-famous (and generally non-beautiful) people fish for crab when another season of D-List Celebrities Doing Something They're Not "Famous" For is about to start? My answer: this one! Deadliest Catch is a complete throwback to what was initially so intriguing about reality TV, the voyeuristic thrill of watching real people (i.e. not fame whore wannabe somethings) on television. At times the show is a little slow (pulling in pots and counting crabs isn't inherently interesting), but as the title implies, this job is dangerous, which ups the voyeuristic factor quite a bit. In the fishing season they're showing now, the Bering Sea was rocked by storm after storm. In the most recent episode a greenhorn fisherman was so terrified that he threatened to jump OFF THE BOAT because he thought he'd be safer in the freezing sea waiting for the coast guard to pick him up (clearly didn't know much about hypothermia) than working on deck. The boat took him back to port at enormous cost in fuel and lost time fishing and after less than two days back at sea was hit by a 60 foot rogue wave that knocked out the boat's power and as the episode ended the boat was languishing on its side completely crippled. Tell me that is not gripping television.

Of course, I have a personal connection to the subject of the show which might make me more willing than most to put up with the clunky narration. I went to highschool in a fishing town, and several of my classmates have ended up doing stints on fishing boats at one time or another. Fishing is one of the few ways a young man in the area I come from can make a quick buck, and while I don't know anyone doing it now, it's fascinating watching people like the ones I grew up with living a life so dissimilar to my own. Add in the fact that one of the boats is owned and operated by a Norwegian family (my mother's family is Norwegian) and the theme song is Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive and how can I not love this show?

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Blogger t.s. said...

Maybe it's time for My Super Sweet 16?

4/24/2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

This show does sound great. Despite my most recent post (and most of my posts in general) I have begun to think that my fascination with celebrities is a little pathetic. To that end, this show sounds like exactly what I need.

However, I have to imagine that some of this show centers around the catching of the crabs and perhaps the killing of the crabs? As a vegetarian who chooses not to ingest any animals I think watching this would be too disturbing for me. Let me know if I am wrong and the whole crab thing is totally glossed over. Then I will definitely tune in.

4/24/2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger Laura Holt said...

t.s., great article. If I'm going to be a voyeur, I guess at the moment I'm more interested in watching people who don't make me want to throw things at my TV. Of course, I'm sure my pendulum will swing back soon.

Red, there are lots of images of them catching and sorting the crabs (and baiting the crab pots which involves some fish chopping) but the crabs themselves aren't killed until they're off-loaded to the processing facility, and that's all off-screen. So . . . hard to say whether it would bother you too much to watch.

4/24/2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

I haven't seen this show. There's another good show on Discovery called I Shouldn't Be Alive.

I have seen a couple of episodes of My Super Sweet 16. That show is disturbing. The sense of entitlement, for one thing. And also the parents' complete lack of judgment.

Which reminds me that probably my favorite non-competitive reality show is "Made." It's just normal, if sometimes eccentric, teenagers trying to do normal stuff. It's sort of inspiring without hitting you over the head with the message.

4/24/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger Catheter Man said...

You neglected to mention perhaps the most intriguing part about crabbing. These guys are willing to risk their lives because they make somewhere around $20,000-$30,000 in each "season," which lasts around a week. And if you think that hasn't made me want to see what comparable pay for a Chesapeake Bay crab boat is, you'd be wrong. Dead wrong.

I also particularly enjoy the way the guys use the word "crab" to refer to crabs (plural). As in, "There are about 54 crab in that pot."

4/24/2006 6:13 PM  

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