America Has Crab Fever: “Deadliest Catch” Ratings Soar

There are few things in life I enjoy more than watching TV shows about people who risk life and limb while I remain safely ensconced in my recliner. “Deadliest Catch” is probably the most notable of the danger porn genre, and America’s love for those crabby crab fisherman is growing by the year. Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly reports that the show just got its biggest audience of all time.

A record 5.54 million people tuned into Tuesday’s “Blown Off Course” episode of Deadliest Catch, making it the most-watched episode in the show’s history. The episode was the first of several addressing the passing of Capt. Phil Harris, the beloved captain of the Cornelia Marie.

Harris died of a stroke this past February, a stroke he suffered while offloading crab in Alaska. His sons are deckhands on the ship he once ran. It’s all terribly compelling stuff, which is why so many people tuned in. You will think this a stretch, but it’s not unlike when people flocked to theaters to see Heath Ledger’s performance in “The Dark Knight.” There’s something alluring about death in such instances. Sometimes, we LIKE to be haunted by the memory of someone. Crass as it may be, death almost always serves to make certain things in pop culture more interesting.

“Deadliest Catch” has always teased viewers with the potentially fatal risks these men take every time they set out to sea. And while Harris died from something unrelated to any kind of work accident, his death makes the danger his crew (and sons) face that much more palpable. That’s why more people are tuning in, for better or for worse.

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