January 26, 2012

January 26, 2012

Sorry I Missed It: Big Shrimpin’

One of the few benefits of modern reality TV is the opportunity it affords viewers to peek into little-known slices of life. Your humble blogger knew nothing about what it takes to run a pawn shop, buy abandoned storage units, or renovate a restaurant before Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters, and Kitchen Nightmares came along.

While browsing Hulu recently, I found a link for something called Big Shrimpin’. Few things entice me more than shrimp and a terminal apostrophe, so I decided to check it out. What I found was an eight episode program following the crews of three shrimping shrimpin’ boats from Bayou Le Batre, Louisiana. (The show aired on the History Channel over the past few months, but I hadn’t heard anything about it. Probably because I subscribe to neither the History Channel nor TV Guide. Eh.) And while the French student in me cringed every time they pronounced “Batre” as “Bat-ree,” I chalked it up to the South’s general disregard for literacy.

As with Spike’s Coal and its cadre of miners, Big Shrimpin’s shrimpers faced a lot of adversity. A lot. Of adversity. Just when things would be going well, the boat would break down. A net would tear. They’d run out of gloves. A shark would start following the boat. The freezer wouldn’t freeze. Someone’s foot would get infected. Rocks would get caught in the net. The navigation system would stop working. A tropical storm would blow in. A hurricane would blow in. They’d run out of boots. The captain would find out his dad was near death.

YOU GET THE IDEA. Those are all things that happened over the eight episodes!

Frankly, it’s a wonder I get any shrimp at all with which to fill my gullet.*I’d say the ratio of misfortune-to-good times is each episode was about 5-1. I mean, they had plenty of good hauls, and they celebrated and pranked each other and whatnot. But still. You get the feeling that the guys are shrimpers because it was the only option, and not for the love of the game.

And herein lies a fascinating anthropological study of the availability of work in various locations as compared to the chosen professions of the local populations. Or something. It’s like how everyone in West Virginia seems to be connected to coal mining. I doubt it’s because they love risking their lives underground, right? As a citified northerner, I just can’t wrap my head around a community where everyone does one thing, because that one thing is the only work available. Fascinating.

I’ve no idea whether a second season is in the works, either following the same crew again or a different crew altogether or perhaps shrimpers from some other part of the world. I do know that the eight episodes we did get made me appreciate the work that goes into feeding my shrimp addiction.

* Thank you, China, and your giant shrimp farms. Ni-hao!

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: