The History of Shark Week

By Linda Holmes.

It’s almost Shark Week. What debuted in 1988 is now TV’s longest-running programming event. To celebrate, take a look back at this essay Linda Holmes wrote in 2018 about how Shark Week got its teeth. At the time the piece was written, Shark Week was in its 30th year.

This week, Discovery celebrates the 30th anniversary of Shark Week. Do you understand what that means? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Well, not nothing. It means that if you are under 30, Shark Week has existed since before you were born. You have never not known Shark Week! On the day you were born, someone could have said, “Boy, I’m really looking forward to Shark Week next year.” And the other person would hopefully have squinted and said, “Are you?”

It hasn’t always been quite the phenomenon it is now. Perhaps Shark Week reached full maturation in November, 2006 when Tracy Jordan, played on 30 Rock by Tracy Morgan, gave Kenneth the page these words of advice: “Live every week like it’s Shark Week.” If you care to use the search engine of your choice, you will find that there is abundant bootleg merchandise carrying this very slogan, ripping off both 30 Rock and Shark Week simultaneously.