Deadliest Catch: 100 episodes of the best kind of reality TV

The Discovery Channel’s signature reality series, Deadliest Catch, debuts its eighth season tonight, and that debut also happens to be the show’s 100th episode.

The preceding 99 episodes, narrated by Mike Rowe, have turned boat captains into stars and spawned ugly off-camera battles. And, with the death of one of its stars, Phil Harris, the show presented reality in a way that turned it into art. (All seven seasons are free on Amazon for Prime members, and are also on DVD.)

While it can get repetitious, with crab pots being thrown overboard or pulled in over and over again, the show works because it really does illustrate the reality of their lives, and at least the network and producers didn’t turn this into The Real Housewives of the Bering Sea and let it become artificial to create drama, though it has had its moments.

The series spawned the hard-job, tough-guy subgenre that its executive producer, Thom Beers, and production company, Original Productions, have mastered and perfected. Last fall, the series was finally awarded an Emmy for its efforts. That’s well-deserved, and the outstanding craftsmanship that goes into the series is clear in this preview from tonight’s episode, which debuts at 9 p.m. ET and starts with heartbreaking scenes at the captains’ homes.

Just look at the cinematography, the editing, and the way it fully brings us into these crazy lives. That’s what reality TV was born to do, and Deadliest Catch still does it better than most.

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