The Essential Guide to Shark Week Programming

Shark WeekDiscovery Channel/Chris Fallows

Though we try our hardest to heed Tracy Jordan’s advice, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is sadly a once-a-year phenomenon. It’s the one time when everyone from kids to grandparents gather in front of the television to celebrate the ocean’s most dangerous, fascinating, and surprisingly lovable creatures. You want shark attacks? Shark Week’s got them. You want fascinating documentaries about scientific phenomena? They’re here too. How about following brave, insane people into the darkest parts of the ocean to find the deadliest sharks in the world? There’s one airing every two hours. Whether you’re a newcomer to the joys of watching sharks bite cameras for four hours — it’s much more entrancing than it sounds, trust us — or you’ve spent weeks pouring over the evidence of the Megalodon’s existence, Shark Week’s got something for you. We’ve broken down the network’s prime time programming for the next six days to bring you a handy guide to the shark shows you really can’t miss. Cue up the Jaws theme… 

Most Likely to Make You Reevaluate Your Vacation Plans: Great White Serial Killer
Part of the fun of Shark Week is learning about some of the legends and myths surrounding shark appearances, but Great White Serial Killer might top them all. See, according to locals, Surf Beach in California might be haunted by a great white shark that appears every year — on almost exactly the same day — to tear everything in sight to shreds. It’s the Jack the Ripper of Great Whites. If you were headed to California this year, you might want to see if your travel plans are flexible.
Airs: August 11 at 8 pm

Proof that Everything is Better With Celebrity Appearances: Shark After Dark
Regardless of how you might feel about after-shows like Talking Dead or After the Rose or Talking Bad, a Shark Week after-show will blow the rest of them out of the water. (For one thing, it doesn’t feel the need to shove the word “talking” into the title.) After all, the only thing better than discussing giant monster sharks with your friends is watching famous funny people talk about giant monster sharks. Don’t you want Sharknado survival tips from Tara Reid? Of course you do, you’re a human being.
Airs: August 10 – 14 at 11 pm

Most Likely to Inspire a SyFy Movie: Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss
After two sharknadoes, a sharktopus, and a pteracuda, where else can SyFy turn to find inspiration for another terrifying shark hybrid than outer space? Granted, the actual show is about a search for the elusive ghost shark, a species that has thus far never actually been spotted in person. But just imagine what the makers of Sharknado would be able to do with the idea of an alien shark. We’re thinking lasers of some kind, telekinesis, and the ability to survive on land thanks to differing conditions on their home planet. They wouldn’t even have to change the title.
Airs: August 12 at 9 pm

(Runner Up: Lair of the Mega Shark, because if you’re dumb enough to jump into a Sharknado, you’re probably dumb enough to venture into a demon shark lair. Airs: August 12 at 10 pm)

Most Enticing Use of the Phrase “Pregnant Shark”: Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birthing
Sure, the title sounds like a B-horror movie that will probably haunt your dreams for years to come, but Spawn of Jaws 2  actually centers on a surprisingly intriguing topic: baby sharks in the wild. Is there anything in this world more adorable and terrifying than the idea of tiny, infant sharks swimming around, biting everything they come across? You might have to watch a shark give birth first, but everything in life has a trade-off. Do it for the baby sharks.
Airs: August 13 at 10 pm

Least Recommended to Watch with Dinner: I Survived Jaws 2  

You know what pairs best with a nice bowl or a pizza and some beer? How about horrifically gruesome shots of people’s limbs being bitten off while the ocean around them slowly turns red with their blood? You’re probably going to find it impossible to look away from the television, but we can guarantee that by the time the first commercial rolls around, you’ll have lost your appetite. Do the smart thing and eat first, and then, give thanks for all of your limbs.
Airs: August 14 at 9 pm

Best Opportunity for Drinking Games and Drunken Live-Tweeting: Megalodon: The Extended Cut and Megalodon: The New Evidence
Look, nobody actually believes that the Megalodon exists. Like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster before it, the Megalodon is the kind of ridiculously campy urban myth that makes it the perfect Shark Week programming to make fun of on social media. Real-life shark attacks are too serious and gruesome, sharks giving birth are too weird, shark hunts are too boring, but a 60-foot shark that should have gone extinct thousands of years ago but might still be lurking in the ocean’s depths? That’s Twitter and drinking game gold.
Airs: August 15 at 8 pm and 10 pm, respectively