Shark Week 2021 is upon us, and the shark-filled week of Discovery content is as full of fun mixed with facts as ever. As per usual, Shark Week this year has brought in some celebrities to participate in some of the specials to go with the more informative installments, and one of the most memorable so far was The Real Sharknado, featuring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid of Syfy's Sharknado franchise. It was a fun hour of television that nevertheless leaves me wondering: did it send the right or wrong message about sharks?
On the one hand, an hour of Shark Week devoted to debunking a lot – if not most – of the Sharknado franchise has value for any viewers who took the shark "facts" presented by those movies more seriously than they should have. I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of Sharknado fans knew to take the shark "information" from the franchise with a few boulders of salt, but there's still value in seeing the stars specifically show how very wrong (albeit entertaining) the scenarios were.
Plus, Dr. Tristan Guttridge gamely went along for the bonkers ride, although I did feel bad for him a couple of times. He surely didn't exactly go to all his years of school to try and feed produce to sharks with a pair of Syfy movie stars! But it was all in good fun, and in pursuit of the good cause of spreading awareness about sharks.
At the same time, there were kind of a lot of jokes about all the shark-killing that Ian Ziering's Sharknado character did, and the chainsaw that is his signature weapon even made an appearance. The Real Sharknado may have taken a misstep in also reminding viewers about his epic shark kills, when a large part of the point of Shark Week is advancing shark conservation. They also made it kind of hard to take the whole thing seriously. So, was the message of airing The Real Sharknado a good or bad thing for Shark Week?
Personally, I've been a huge fan of Shark Week going back about as far as I can remember. I've watched Michael Phelps try to beat a shark (with some fun results), I went along for the ride with the fake documentary about a monster hammerhead, and I freaked out along with plenty of others when a Shark Week biologist was bitten by a crocodile. In the grand scheme of things, I enjoy some good old-fashioned Shark Week shenanigans, even if those shenanigans involve some Syfy stars making jokes about killing sharks with chainsaws and testing the patience of a scientist.
The special didn't try to pretend that it was a serious nature documentary, and if showcasing Sharknado stars drew more attention to the good cause, then I say A+! Besides, just take a look at how The Real Sharknado ended and try to tell me that it wasn't a fun and campy inclusion in Shark Week 2021:
And honestly, The Real Sharknado seems like the most responsible special of the whole Shark Week in comparison to Jackass Shark Week, which went about as well as any Jackass fan could have expected. One of the stars was even bitten by a shark for tempting fate! Ian Ziering and Tara Reid's special was a fun hour of television for me, and definitely didn't turn me off from watching more of Shark Week 2021. In fact, I'd watch The Real Sharknado 2 if that becomes a thing!