In the era of reality television, not much of it is real. In fact, “reality” shows involve writers, planned activities, even scripts, for pity’s sake. But I’ve become completely enamored of Deadliest Catch, and the reason is very simple: there’s nothing “show” about this reality show. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen that’s more reality than show.
To be fair, I don’t watch a lot of them to know, but I do know enough about shows like The Amazing Race, Fear Factor (r.i.p.), American Idol, and Survivor: Some God-forsaken Locale to know they can’t do what’s being done on this show.
For one thing, there’s no way to script or even plan for the weather in the Bering Sea. There’s no way – nor any need – to script the unpredictability of the ocean and the catch itself. There’s no way the reactions these men are giving, the things they’re enduring, and the amount of toil and trouble bubbling in their cauldrons can be scripted. This is genuine reality television: a camera crew following the lives and labors of a group of fishermen trying to earn a living in the most dangerous job on the water.
I’ve watched the show for a couple of weeks now, and I have to admit I’m hooked … no pun intended. Those fishermen caught me.
My wife has different reasons for loving the show than I do, but we agree the more we watch, the more we enjoy it. It’s nice to see the complete absence of politically correct bullshit in the context of working. The contrast between this sort of work and a corporate job is astounding. I’m not cut from the right leather to do that sort of work (not to mention I’m waaaaaayyy too old to try something that suicidal), but I certainly can see the draw for some. Those who aren’t opposed to grueling, hard labor (I am), who are driven to do as much with as little as possible (I’m not), who aren’t afraid to face raging seas and dangerous conditions (I am), and who don’t mind high-risk, high-reward scenarios (no thanks) are perfect for it. The work is horrible; the pay isn’t bad, I guess, but you take your life in your hands every time you set out. You have to be okay with working in extreme conditions as far as weather goes. Most of them are fishermen from a long line of fishermen, and they wouldn’t trade their lives for a corporate job to save their souls. I can’t blame them for that. If I thought it were a viable option, I’d seriously consider it.
I’m content to watch them on television for now. But, being a child of the sea and feeling its power and influence in my life (never acted on, though), I can relate to them in a strange way. I know I can’t do what they do, but I do understand at least a small part of what drives them to do it. From the relative comfort of my couch in my living room (hey, it’s a crappy couch and not all that comfortable), I salute them.
Then I dip my steamed crab legs in drawn butter and enjoy.
All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
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