I’ve watched Shark Week for 15 years and honestly, it’s gotten worse every time …

As the scuba diver floated helplessly in the dark blue waters off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, she couldn’t help but think that the end was near. Only hours before, she was diving off her boat for a research expedition to film marine life surrounding the vast archipelago. Now, with the currents carrying her further out to sea, she’d lost her boat and drifted aimlessly into the blue abyss. Her only chance at survival would be to swim toward the rocky coast, aptly named the “washing machine” after its violent interactions with the crashing waves. No one could survive that trauma.

She bobbed up and down in the open water, calmly tracing through her options. There weren’t many. The video camera, which she had originally brought to document the dive, was about to document how things would progress from a bad dream to a nightmare as sharks began emerging from the depths of the ocean floor. First it was one shark. Then three. She began screaming. Then five. 

I had just finished smoking a bowl and was now transfixed on the television, trying to comprehend what the fuck was unfolding. Was she about to be eaten by a shark on national television? I couldn't help but keep watching. I had a problem. 

Out of options and running on pure adrenaline, the diver swam vigorously toward the coast, taking her chances with the crushing rocks. But as she began swimming, something strange occurred. The sharks backed off. With each swim stroke, the sharks slowly disappeared into the depths, unscathed by the fleeing prey. It turns out, the diver’s screams initially triggered the sharks response to a wounded animal. By swimming, she gave an indication that she was healthy so the sharks retreated.

Relieved, and slightly disappointed, I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. The diver survived to tell the story although her emotional scars remained. Luckily for the viewers, Discovery Channel reopened the wounds on prime time television by having her recount the experience while watching the raw footage from her camera on her living room television — producers are the best. As she sobbed watching it, I found myself intrigued with the subject matter. That was 15 years ago and the first time I watched Shark Week. I’ve watched Shark Week ever since and honestly, it’s gotten worse with each time.

What was once a great expose into the world of sharks has become a shock and awe, smoke and mirrors television program walking a fine line between generating a respect for sharks and engaging the human phobia of shark attacks.

Take one look at the lineup for 2016’s Shark Week programming (Why Sharks Are In Double Jeopardy, Black Tip Sharks Attack from All Angles, Isle of Jaws, Shallow Water Invasion) and it’s clear that producers are torn between science and hype.

Unfortunately, hype has surpassed the legitimacy of the programming, forcing producers to repurpose story lines each season by pushing the limits of great camera work and playing with facts. To give an example of the producer’s lack of creativity on the project, one entire episode focused on which animal bites harder, a shark or a lion. While I’m not a scientists nor an expert in the world of marine biology, I find it hardly plausible that many scientists are losing sleep over this mystery. Best part of all, the episode finished with the intrinsic lesson that you don’t want to be bit by either. Sadly, this is how most Shark Week shows are structured, 29.5 minutes of bullshit and .5 minutes of an anticlimactic ending.

Tie in the marketing hype of fast-food cup promotion and online drinking games to accompany the show and the original purpose for Shark Week is nothing but a distant memory.

I’ve always had a fascination with sharks due to my innate fear of being eaten alive by one. How can you not be afraid of being bit by a fish that’s comparable object of size is that of a city bus? And while I avoid surfing vacations, my seminal fear has matured into a respect and fascination for the animal. Watching Shark Week slowly regress into an uninformative display of superficial programming, I’ve realized that fascination is my last bit of emotional purity on the verge of being diluted by the hype-machine that is the Internet.

Maybe it’s a good thing I can get drunk with a drinking game while watching Shark Week after all.