Why the Discovery Channel Keeps Winning

Posted on May 18, 2013


We can all agree about reality TV right?

Most of the shows should never have made it past the home movie stage.

Furthermore, TV is supposed to be about fantasy. Work is the last thing most guys want to think about when they plop themselves down for an hour or two.

we eatin’ good tonight!

So what accounts for the Discovery Channel’s reality shows? Why are they so hard to resist? So outright cool? At least to men?

Starting with American Chopper ten years ago to Deadliest Catch and continuing with current shows like Fast N’ Loud and Yukon Men, the Discovery Channel constantly produces catchy guy programs. How do they do it? It’s worth considering since they started out as a science/nature/history channel far removed from character based TV. I think they’ve done several things right whereas other reality television channels have gone wrong.

The Discovery Channel borrows heavily from true Proverbial Wisdom (14:23). The killer toys and tools catch our eye but the character’s work ethic is what shines brightest. The shows demonstrate that…

All hard work brings profit – The shows are all based on a specific business or occupations. The jobs performed in front of the cameras are either dangerous (the premise of Deadliest Catch) or strange (Dirtiest Jobs) but always tough. These shows put sweat equity on display. The men persevere  in the face of setbacks and grow as a result of them.

Mere talk leads to poverty – The shows do not revolve around ethereal, brain-storming sessions. The men are not phony movers n’ shakers e.g., The Apprentice…producing nothing.  Instead, they just earn a living doing what they do best – fixing cars, bikes, catching fish or driving a cab. They win and lose. For example, Fast N’ Loud tallies what the shop earns each week retooling and selling cars. They are tangible, physical jobs.

Work ain’t a social club – Although the shows do center around personalities, the biggest draw is the work. Meaningful, visible work. Paul Senior of American Chopper was tolerable only because he had a gift for building beautiful motorcycles. He’d be as insufferable as a Jersey Shore character if not for his artistry. Men don’t watch TV for the dialogue. If they did, they’d watch more soap operas.

The men on these shows are far from perfect. Many are rough, crude and childish. But as professionals, their standards are all very high. We see that the customer is always right. The Discovery Channel has learned to crystallize many of life’s most important lessons in their programming. So, despite obvious scripting and editing, they have a winning formula and can use the same premise in whatever industry they choose.

workin’ hard for the money!

P.S. I still recommend getting rid of your TV and limiting the amount you watch (online). That said, if you’re going to watch something, at least make it useful. The Discovery Channel qualifies.

Posted in: art, work