For many years, when people would ask the question "Why do you like Shark Week so much?", my reply would be "Because it's now the one time of the year Discovery gets back to playing actual animal documentaries." That those documentaries were about some of the most fascinating creatures on our planet certainly didn't hurt either.
Last year, that ended. For the first time since I began watching as a child nearly 25 years ago, I had to quit Shark Week. Why? Did my fascination with sharks end? Did they cover the wrong species of sharks?Was there some sort of emergency in my life?
No, no, and no. The plain and simple truth is, Discovery finally went about killing off what Shark Week was. In the past several years, the event and the programs themselves had become more and more sensationalized. Gone were programs covering mysterious whale sharks, schools of hammerheads, or anything that wasn't great whites. Great whites flying through the air dominated the entire week. Discovery even went so far as to hire the narrator of the movie 300 to cover one such program.
I bit my lip and accepted it, because it was at least still about real sharks and their habits and lifestyles, and I'd be lying if seeing great whites leaping from the water, seals either screwed or just able to escape, wasn't cool as all hell to see. But last year, after the success of their mockumentary Mermaids, Discovery changed the entire format of Shark Week. Hyped beyond all belief was the new Mockumentary, Megalodon, a Syfy level affair filled with pseudoscience and horrible special effects. Discovery proudly talked about how many people now believed Megalodon was real.
But Megalodon was simply the tip of the iceberg. Last year's shit show also included the horrible Shark After Dark, Discovery's attempt at cashing in on the popularity of The Talking Dead. It was filled with guests who not only knew nothing about sharks, but actively pushed forward the horrible stereotypes about sharks Shark Week has spent decades trying to fight. It also included Voodoo Sharks, yet another program about chasing down a mythical creature.
People like myself complained, and we changed the channel. But, of course, that didn't matter. Megalodon became Shark Week's second highest rated program ever. And this year, we're getting Sharkageddon, Monster Hammerhead, Shark After Dark, and, surprise surprise, Megalodon: The New Evidence. It's obvious that this is the new direction for the event as a whole.
For those, like myself, who wish to see programs like the Shark Week of old? I'd advise skipping Shark Week entirely this year. Wait until Nat Geo's SharkFest. You'll be much happier.