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Shark Week is a block of programming dedicated to the fish and the fear they induce which airs on the Discovery Channel each year in late August. Because of the popularity of sharks online, and its unique singular focus, the programming block has gained a large fanbase, both ironic and unironic, online.
Shark Week premiered on the Discovery Channel on July 17th, 1988. The idea for shark week came to programmers at the Discovery Channel while gathered at a bar after work. The programming block gained its first celebrity host, Peter Benchley best known for writing shark film Jaws, in 1997. Programming features nonfiction shows and specials which offer close up footage of sharks which have evolved as the technology behind video and underwater cameras have evolved.
Live Every Week Like It’s Shark Week
On an episode of 30 Rock titled “Jack the Writer” which first aired on November 1st, 2006, Tracy tells Kenneth:
“Live every week like its shark week.”
The clip was first uploaded by YouTuber Bender1138 on January 31st, 2013. As of August 2014, the video has gained over 29,000 views. The quote has inspired typography fan art.
On August 5th, 2009, The Colbert Report featured a segment on Shark Week during which he described it as a “powerful cultural event.” As of August 2014, the segment uploaded on the show’s website has been viewed over 24,000 times.
Social Media Presence
On July 17th, 2010, the Tumblr blog fuckyeahsharkweek was created. As of August 2014, Deviant Art  has over 9,000 pieces of fan art tagged Shark Week. The subreddit r/sharkweek was created on August 5th, 2010, by Redditor junkmale. As of August 2014, the subreddit has gained over 300 subscribers.
Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives
On August 4th, 2013, Discovery Channel aired a movie titled Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives which it claimed was a documentary. However, websites like The Mary Sue pointed out the Megalodon was a type of prehistoric shark long extinct and thus not alive to be filmed. Discover Magazine published a criticism of the film, saying its disclaimer “did the exact opposite” of calling the film fiction. On August 5th, Wil Wheaton published a post on his blog titled “Discovery Channel Owes It’s Viewers An Apology.” In the post Wheaton explains:
" Sharks are fascinating, and megalodon was an absolutely incredible creature! Discovery had a chance to get its audience thinking about what the oceans were like when megalodon roamed and hunted in them. It had a chance to even show what could possibly happen if there were something that large and predatory in the ocean today … but Discovery Channel did not do that. In a cynical ploy for ratings, the network deliberately lied to its audience and presented fiction as fact. Discovery Channel betrayed its audience."
Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine
On August 10th, 2014, Discovery Channel aired a movie titled Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine which it claimed was a documentary. However, websites like Oregon Live pointed out the South American shark attack the film covered never happened, and its witnesses were all actors. Many twitter users tweeted their unhappiness about the film, including Wil Wheaton.
The Atlantic – The Evolution of Shark Week, Pop-Culture Leviathan
Discover Magazine – Shark Week Jumps The Shark: An Open Letter To Discovery Communications
Hollywood Life – Submarine Shark: Is ‘Shark Of Darkness’ Documentary Fake?