The Discovery Channel turned to the mayor of Flavortown, USA for its Tuesday night Shark Week headliner and it was, probably surprisingly for Fieri’s critics, fun and at least somewhat informative.
In Guy Fieri’s Feeding Frenzy, the restauranteur and Emmy award-winning TV host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives plunges his signature frosted tips into shark-infested waters.
Winner Winner Shark Bait Dinner
Aboard the USS Flavortown, Fieri and his son, Hunter, fire air cannons stuffed with raw fish off the coast of Nassau, the Bahamas, before donning scuba gear and getting up close and personal with some Caribbean Reef sharks. It’s an unusual task for Fieri, who rose to prominence by embracing the kind of everyday food regular Americans eat. Unlike more refined Food Network stars, plenty of small town and suburban Fieri fans can find a framed photo of the meme legend in their local diner, since he seems to have sampled deep-fried cuisine from every neighborhood in the country.
But that’s not how Shark Week rolls. The program leans heavily into the primal fear many audience members share of the apex predators. Getting attacked by a shark in real life is an anomaly. But the shark-phobia that results from a genre of a horror films dedicated to the creatures, not to mention Instagrammers plagued by shark nibbles, has created an unwelcome environment for the species that has real, devastating consequences.
Just minutes into Fieri’s expedition, where he plans to observe what nearby sharks are eating, before heading into coastal kitchens to recreate their fish dinners, disaster strikes. The danger that befalls Fieri — a leaking oxygen container — was likely emphasized by savvy editors and certainly dramatized with heavy theatrics, but it serves its entertainment purpose. And that’s the real downside of Shark Week.
Putting the Shama Lama in the Ding Dong
Between clips of Fieri, Hunter, and their safety crew engaging with seemingly blood-thirsty sharks, the misconceptions about sharks eating humans are “debunked,” only to be subtly reinforced minutes later. It’s hard for Shark Week to find its footing between trying to educate viewers or simply entertain them. That’s understandable, since controversy is key to maintaining a successful reality show in the oversaturated era of TV. Even with Fieri’s star presence, his theatrics, and the inarguably fun premise of the special episode, social media buzz was distinctly lacking.
Despite the antics of Fieri’s deep dive, watching him sink his teeth into grouper and yellowfin was fun and at least somewhat informative. Upcoming Shark Week episodes will likely employ more surprises, shock value, and star power to garner as much attention as possible. This is, after all, the program that spawned the 2014 Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives craze, when the pseudo-documentary successfully convinced its audience that giant, prehistoric sharks were a genuine threat.