Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Deadliest Catch

Why am I so obssessed with the show Deadliest Catch? I can watch episode after episode, glued to the couch.

I was taken from the first moment I saw the very first show back in the summer of 2004. I was pregnant and miserable. The only thing makes me feel better during the miseries of the first trimester is to watch people who are more miserable than me. Suddenly, the ocean of nausea and gloom I was caught in seemed like nothing compared to the icy Bering sea as men swung an endless number of 700-pound crab pots aboard rocking crab boats. Suddenly, I was aware of all the comforts around me: my soft couch, a cat to pet, air-conditioning. I started planning my evenings around seeing the show whenever it was on.

I am also drawn in by watching people work together as a team to do a hard job. (I think its also the draw of medical and legal shows). Deadliest Catch is riveting because the dangers are immediate and real (death is nearly instanteous if you fall into the Bering Sea during the winter). The interactions between the deckhands and captains, and the captains with each other are absorbing. It feels "real" in ways that staged "reality shows" do not. Of course, the genius of the whole thing lies in the editing and post-production shaping of the shows, not to mention the understated voice-over. And where the show be without the Bon Jovi "Dead or Alive" theme song?

Its also riveting to watch a complete world that is at once vital and virtually unknown. I have that anthropologist's love of encountering a new world with a new history, and culture, and language to learn. They are out there crabbing and fishing while the rest of us are obssessed with the college football season or the NFL or the latest scandel de jour on cable news. All to bring us (and primarily the Japanese consumer, I believe) crab. After watching the whole first season, I once came upon a live King Crab in a tank at the supermarket. I gasped out loud at the sight. "You" I told it, "you are reason all those men work so hard and risk so much." I had a new understanding of the very real cost in time, effort, and lives, it took to bring that crab from the Bering Sea to my Texas store.

Its strangely restorative in a manner similar to working in the garden. I could watch all day.

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