Shark Week won’t be airing any more fake documentaries. The Discovery Channel, home to the wildly popular television programming, has sworn off including bogus specials in its Shark Week lineup after facing massive criticism in recent years for airing two mockumentaries about the prehistoric megalodon shark.
In 2013, shark fans were angered after “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” aired during Shark Week. The show, which became Discovery Channel’s most-watched Shark Week special in history, was about the possibility that the giant megalodon shark was still alive. After it was revealed that the “scientists” in the show were really actors and the events in the documentary were scripted, fans lashed out at Discovery. Despite the backlash, Shark Week 2014 included a sequel, “Megalodon: The New Evidence.”
Again fans and scientists questioned the validity of the documentary, this time demanding answers. In a 2015 interview with NPR, Howard Swartz, Discovery’s head of development and production, announced that the megalodon mockumentaries had been pulled from the Shark Week schedule. “We’re focusing quite a bit on research and science, more so probably than we have in the past,” he said at the time. “We’ve toyed with a lot of different types of storytelling over the years, and I just think now in a forward-looking direction, I think we wanna focus more on the research angle.”
Discovery President Rich Ross also told Entertainment Weekly that he didn’t think the “Megalodon” specials were the right fit for Shark Week. “It’s [a type of programming] that I think in some ways has run its course. ... They’ve done very well, many of them, but it’s not something that’s right for us,” he said.
Just because “Megalodon” is no longer a part of Shark Week, doesn’t mean the cable channel doesn’t have some pretty exciting specials lined up for 2016. When Shark Week officially kicks off Sunday evening, shark enthusiasts will be treated to shows such as “The Return of Monster Mako,” which first aired during last year’s Shark Week. The show follows Keith Poe, Matt Ajemain and Greg Stuntz as they track the predatory habits of a giant mako shark. There’s also “Isle of Jaws,” which shows cinematographer Andy Casagrande as he tracks the great white shark in hopes of learning more about its mating habits. To see what else airs Sunday, June 26, click here.