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5 Reasons Why Deadliest Catch Is Appealing

Updated on December 12, 2012

Without watching the Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel, it might be hard to understand why it appeals to a relatively large cable audience. The simple answer is that it is reality television set in a unique environment without the obvious pretense of other reality television shows. The fishing vessels that Discovery Channel follows throughout the show exist to make money by fishing crab, not by being performers in a semi-scripted spectacle. The longer answer is explained in the following five reasons for why Deadliest Catch is so appealing:

Work Ethic - Most of us have felt it -- it's late, we have an important task that must be accomplished before work or school tomorrow, and we keep pressing on knowing that the end will be worth the perseverance. The satisfaction in toiling and reaching our goal isn't something we can magically conjure at will, so when we see others in the midst of an equally trying time, we can relate and imagine that we could always call upon that work ethic when needed. It is good to see individuals working hard to produce something tangible. So many of us work in industries where nothing is actually produced, and when nothing is actually produced, sometimes it is more difficult to hold ourselves accountable to our desire to hold that strong work ethic. In seeing crab pot after crab pot being hauled on the Bering sea, accountability lines up perfectly with work ethic, and the due riches often follow.

Environment - Alaska plus the ocean are two symbols of adventure that many of us dream about, but few of us pursue. It is vast and beautiful and daunting, and it is dynamic in a way that most of us who are tied to a place could not really begin to understand. The show does a wonderful job in not just showing what happens on deck, but showing the surrounding land and sea as well. It's so easy to forget when living in an urban or suburban environment that there are places on earth like the Bering Sea in winter. And it is especially nice to see it during the summer when most of us feel like we would gladly trade the sweltering heat for the ice and snow of Alaska.

Danger - Everyone has a little bit of "Type T" risk taker in their blood. Given that crab fishing on the Bering Sea is considered the deadliest job in America, it is only the true risk takers who thrive in an environment where they are always one step away from catastrophe. Over the seasons, Deadliest Catch has shown multiple fishermen who have lost their lives, and many more who were seriously injured or nearly died as a result of the dangers on deck. Once again, most of us at one point or another like to imagine that we are willing to take those risks. It is a romantic vision of ourselves put in a situation where we could believe that others would admire us for our courageousness and where we would be content in the decision we've made to not be afraid of the world.

Camaraderie- Each boat has a captain and three to five deckhands who must work long, long hours together as a team. In similar fashion to a Hollywood "Buddy Movie", it is fun to see individuals come together for a common purpose. If the boat catches a lot of crab, the crew prospers with a very large pay check for a relatively short, yet intense, work period. Through the years, the producers have shown how a boat can break down if one or two crew members don't fit into the team. Who to take onto the Bering sea is always a dicey prospect given that the boat can be out to sea for weeks at a time. Deadliest Catch also shows the camaraderie among the captains of various vessels throughout the fleet, that even though they are each other's competition, there are lasting friendships that have formed and always a sense that they are part of a community.

Characterization- This is the element that makes the show what it is. The producers of Deadliest Catch have found a way to take grizzled, blue-collar workers and extract meaning and humanity from their words and actions. They are trying to get by like everyone else. Sometimes they have wise things to say. Most of the time they toil toward an unnameable goal and merely have simple things to say about the here and now. But when the "here and now" is the rolling deck of a crab boat in the middle of the Bering sea, even those simple words hold a few ounces more truth than those that may come from a place less deadly.


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