Why Do People Get So Psyched for Shark Week?

Seriously, people, I want answers

It’s here! Finally! The moment we’ve all been waiting for! No, it’s not the end of the national debt crisis or the arrival of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Rembrandt exhibit. And it’s not Arlene Ackerman’s resignation (though, fingers crossed on that one). It is the beginning of Shark Week.

For the last 24 years, the Discovery Channel has dedicated one week of summer programming to sharks. It’s become cable’s longest-running event and developed an obsessive cult following.

Each year, as the momentous occasion approaches, my Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with friends—friends who have no other interest in marine life, documentaries, or the Discovery Channel—who are so moved with anticipation for Shark Week that they feel compelled to count down to its beginning and post frequent updates on the week’s programming.

And I can’t help but wonder: What is the big freaking deal about Shark Week?

Yes, sharks are scary. But so are tigers (and lions, and bears, oh my!) and there’s no week-long programming about those animals. Is it somehow related to Jaws? If so, why don’t we watch documentaries about rabid St. Bernards a la Cujo?

When I posed the question on Twitter yesterday, I got a variety of responses. One friend mentioned that sharks are at the top of every food chain. (So what? I wondered.) Two others responded simply, “Sharks!” as if that was a reasonable enough explanation. A fourth friend confirmed my suspicions by claiming that it was all hype, “the Super Bowl without football.”

I turn to you, Philly Posters. Please help me understand why the world gets so hyped for Shark Week (or, if you also don’t understand the appeal, feel free to pose cheeky theories).