A few years ago when Discovery channel started advertising their newest show “Deadliest Catch”, my hubs was enamored. Of course… what man wouldn’t be? Really, you’ve got it all, excitement, danger, extreme environment… then you have the personalities of the men who do this deadly job.
I must admit, I wasn’t hooked on the first episode, or even the first season. However, each “DC” night I graciously turned my television over to the hubs and I did my thing while it played in the background. Each week, something would draw my attention to the screen for a while… It also became a pattern that what ever it was that sucked me in, invariably happened aboard the Cornelia Marie.
By the time Deadliest Catch was in it’s third season I was hooked. I watched every week faithfully. This year, the hubs purchased every season up to five, we spent four nights catching up on every single episode. Did I mention earlier, I was hooked?
I watched as Phil Harris, Captain of the Cornelia Marie, trained his two sons to continue on after he was gone. I remember laughing at memorable moments, like his infamous “This is why lions eat their young” comment over the younger son Jakes indiscriminate spending… on Phil’s dime. I watched as Josh and Jake both wrestle with the demons of fishing, putting their families aside and heading to the Bering Sea, for what logically could be their very last trip.
For the first time since ER I felt myself becoming emotionally invested in the show. More so, I think, because these guys are real, they do this job every day… They can’t say “I’m not a crab fisherman, I just play one on TV”. The danger to their lives that we see unfold each and every week is a danger that unfolds on the screens of their lives each and every minute. Three generations of the Harris family fished those waters for years. They were a close knit “band of brothers” including long time crew in the list of family.
I admit, when Captain Phil had his medical issues on the show two seasons ago, I was genuinely worried for him and his boys. Then when the cause, a blood clot passing through the lung, was made public I was scared for the family.
I have watched this season with trepidation… I don’t want to watch these two boys go through the pain of losing their father… especially not when the wounds are still so fresh and raw. He’s only been gone a few months… He passed away from a massive stroke in February.
I cried as I watched Phil walk down the stairs to his stateroom for the last time. I sobbed as his son Jake climbed in the ambulance for the trip to the clinic, and again the following week, when they put Phil on the helicopter for the flight to the mainland hospital.
It was hard to watch… Knowing what was coming – knowing that they didn’t.
When the admission by Jake came earlier in the show, that he was a drug addict came… I worried. Then later thought, like many others I’m sure, How is Jake not going to blame himself for this?
This week, Discovery channel is airing a 2 hour special Deadliest Catch. It’s Captain Phil’s final episode. I have to watch… but I don’t want to. It will bring to the surface raw and unspeakable emotion. I will watch two young men, just starting their lives, lose their most important driving force. I will watch, and I will cry, and I may even talk to the television… I know, I do that sometimes.
I know that reality television for some is an addiction; frankly I despise reality television… Stuff like Big Brother, Kate + 8… that stuff just makes me ill… but Deadliest Catch is as real as it gets. These men just let us take a small glimpse at the lives they lead, and they’re raw, gritty, cold, and very, very dangerous. They smoke too much, drink too much, fish too much, and work too hard. They’re real people, just like you and I. They have families at home, children to love, wives to grow old with.
These are real men, doing an impossibly dangerous job. And sometimes, sometimes they never go home again.
I hope that from this experience Josh and Jake Harris take away the lessons their father wanted them to have. I look forward to the coming seasons on the Cornelia Marie, to see just how the boys shape into men. They have a sterling example of the kind of man they should be in their late father, Phil. Driven, devoted, demanding, and loving.
I for one will be watching Tuesday night at 8.
Good-bye Captain Phil Harris – you will be missed!