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Why Some Longtime Fans Stopped Watching Deadliest Catch

There are plenty of reality TV shows out there that provide viewers with a healthy dose of real-world drama. However, only a select handful can ratchet up the intensity and stakes as much as "Deadliest Catch," the long-running Discovery series that chronicles the ventures of various crab fisherpeople and their crew as they operate upon the tumultuous Bering Sea near Alaska. The risky conditions under which the crab fishing is filmed have led to numerous moments of television that straddle the line between entertaining and stomach-churning, but the show's focus is clearly a recipe for success. Now in its 18th season, the series has remained uniquely engaging for many viewers since it premiered in 2005.

However, that's not to say that "Deadliest Catch" doesn't have its naysayers. In fact, there are even some TV viewers who used to be major fans of the show but eventually decided to stop watching. As it turns out, quite a few of those lapsed fans have a similar reason for why they dropped the show.

Some feel the drama on Deadliest Catch has become forced

"Deadliest Catch" may have built its success on high seas suspense, but some feel the show's drama has become more manufactured over time. Redditor u/PaddyPat12 made a post on the r/deadliestcatch subreddit where they proclaimed, "I can no longer watch this show. The fake drama is unbearable." The user cited several examples from the premiere episode of Season 17, such as when one ship attempted to sneak up on another at night and the crew used night-vision goggles to locate them. Many commenters agreed with the post.

"The sad thing is that the job is inherently full of drama, which is why it has been so popular," user u/pcnauta commented on the thread. "There is no need to add fake drama to the show. ESPECIALLY such obvious and poorly written drama."

And fans aren't the only ones who have accused the series of faking drama. Former "Deadliest Catch" star Elliot Neese has asserted that not everything that happens out at sea is portrayed accurately on the series, once claiming to Blastzone Online that a certain Season 8 plot was completely fabricated.

"When they said my boat hit the ice with a guy asleep at the wheel," Neese said in the interview, "That never happened. I got woken up at least 300 yards from the ice and slowly drove the boat through it to get to St. Paul. And if you actually watch the footage, you can see the frame rate was changed to make it look like we were going fast."

When did Deadliest Catch cross the line?

While some longtime "Deadliest Catch" fans have their problems with the show in its current state, it did appeal to them at one point. In many ways, the show's shift away from what initially drew many fans in was a gradual one. But if some former fans had to pinpoint the moment when things really started to decline, there is a general consensus on what it would be: the death of Captain Phil Harris in 2010.

One of the original stars, Harris suffered a stroke during Season 6 and later died. Harris' death shook the cast and crew, and the show paid an emotional tribute to the fisherman following his passing. Some fans have argued that the fallout from Harris' death was the show's most compelling period and led to some genuinely emotional storytelling. However, many also agree that it set a dramatic bar that the show would relentlessly attempt to pass in the ensuing years.

"For Deadliest Catch, the show peaked when Phil got sick and passed on," Redditor u/jzn110 commented on u/PaddyPat12's thread. "And that was all very real, very authentic drama that totally changed the dynamic of the show. Since then, they've tried way too hard to match that kind of suspense and drama."

Though "Deadliest Catch" has jumped the shark in the eyes of many old fans, it shows no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, recapturing the original audience could be its most harrowing catch yet.