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?