Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Accurate Is The Treatment Of Greenhorns On Deadliest Catch?

Perhaps one of the most upsetting aspects of Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" is the way that the so-called "greenhorns" (inexperienced or novice fishermen who have only recently joined the boat) are treated by their peers. Any longtime fan of "Deadliest Catch" will know that greenhorns are relentlessly mocked and bullied by the veteran crab fishermen of the series, a tradition which is meant to toughen them up for the harsh conditions they'll endure out on the open ocean.

As if that weren't bad enough, most greenhorns who have gone to their captains to complain about this unfair treatment are usually let go once the boat returns to shore –- and the show will often portray them as cowardly or weak for being unable to brave this rite of passage. On one memorable occasion, a greenhorn fisherman named Dane Tebo actually got into a physical altercation with veteran deckhand Freddy Maugatai, who had been constantly harassing and insulting him. Dane was promptly chewed out by the ship's captain, who shoved him, called him a coward for "sucker-punching" the other deckhand, and fired him the moment they reached the port.

Although there's always a possibility that this overtly cruel treatment of greenhorns is ramped up for the sake of television drama, former "Deadliest Catch" star James Gallagher claims the relentless bullying you see within the series is actually a pretty accurate depiction of the real-life treatment of greenhorns.

James Gallagher says the show's horrific treatment of greenhorns is completely authentic

During his AMA on Reddit, former "Deadliest Catch" cast member James Gallagher admitted that the series' immensely cruel treatment of greenhorn fishermen is a very accurate representation of their treatment within the industry. "I think the show has done a good job of depicting the right of passage," Gallagher wrote. "It's truly trial by fire. The green horn [sic] gets f***ed with. The green horn gets ridden. Thats what makes a good fisherman."

Gallagher went on to praise this harsh treatment of greenhorns, claiming that it is necessary to teach them about the deadly conditions of the open ocean. "If you're not hard on them they don't learn the skills they need and they can possibly be maimed or even killed." Although this sentiment is understandable (as any wrong move aboard the ship could end in tragedy), it may be hard to see how relentlessly hazing someone is a better teaching method than simply showing them the ropes.

Considering we've watched greenhorns get fired just for standing up for themselves, Gallagher's comments are undeniably concerning, as they confirm that this cruel treatment of greenhorn fishermen is an authentic part of the fisherman lifestyle, and one which many veterans continue to embrace as tradition.

The show often depicts greenhorns in a negative light

As if that weren't bad enough, it seems like Discovery itself has embraced the relentless bullying of greenhorns, as indicated by the short-lived spin-off series "Deadliest Catch: Greenhorn." Rather than present a sympathetic portrayal of these rookie fishermen who are being treated so contemptuously, the series' description alone on Discovery is extremely critical of them, reading: "These newcomers have quite the track record; Luke has never finished anything he's started and Landon is only 10 days sober... will they crack under the pressure?"

Before you've ever watched an episode of the series, this description alone depicts these greenhorns as inexperienced rookies with a lot of issues — and as such, reinforces the notion that they need to be "whipped into shape" by the veteran crew members. Outside of this spin-off, "Deadliest Catch" as a whole often reinforces this portrayal of greenhorn fishermen as weak-willed novices who are unable to deal with the harsh conditions of the open ocean, rather than addressing the relentless bullying they have to endure from their peers. Often, the show will make a point of showing greenhorns who have been "completely broken physically and mentally," or emphasizing their struggles and how they keep messing up.

James Gallagher's remarks, coupled with what we already know about the show's insistence on depicting greenhorns negatively, make it clear that the cruel treatment of these newcomers is an accurate aspect of real-life commercial fishing, and one that is actively encouraged.