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Why Shark Tank Is Such Reliably Great TV

Photo: Michael Desmond/ABC

For a show that’s been a proven ratings success for nearly a decade, it may seem a bit unusual to recommend ABC’s Shark Tank — especially when about 5 million viewers still tune in to its bustling entrepreneurial shenanigans every week. (That’s more than a week’s worth of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Atlanta, and Silicon Valley episode viewers combined.) But you know what? Five million people isn’t nearly enough for this wonderful program.

For the unfamiliar, Shark Tank is a reality series that invites aspiring entrepreneurs onto the show to pitch their ideas to a diverse group of “shark” investors. If one or more of the sharks are interested in the business concept being presented, they’ll strike up a deal, invest, and enter into a partnership with the entrepreneur; if none of the sharks bite, or if the entrepreneur isn’t enticed by any of the sharks’ deals, it’s a bust, and everyone walks away empty-handed. It’s very exciting, and it’s very nerve-racking! Simply put, Shark Tank is definitely worth your time. Still not convinced? Here’s a list of reasons why it makes for excellent TV.

1. The six sharks have unparalleled chemistry.
Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban serve as your entrepreneurial (and spiritual) advisers in the tank, and their camaraderie marvels some of the all-time great judging panels in reality-television history. Perhaps it’s because they all — in addition to having genuine relationships with each other built on mutual rags-to-riches respect — bring unique visions into the room based on their respective areas of expertise. (Greiner, for instance, is the long-reigning queen of the QVC network, with an eye for retail products; while the dreamy-eyed Herjavec made his fortune through cybersecurity, and tends to invest in technology.) If you’re looking to feast your eyes on Paula Abdul–era American Idol silliness, Shark Tank isn’t for you. But if you want to witness a group of whip-smart investors using their money to nurture aspiring entrepreneurs, jump right in.

2. The guest sharks are great, too.
Do you fancy Ashton Kutcher and like listening to him discuss entrepreneurship? Great, he’s also stopped by the show to lend his business acumen! Do you also value the opinions of Silicon Valley bigwig investors like Chris Sacca? It’s your lucky day! He has also appeared on the show, and brought a bit of organized chaos in the process.

3. It’s not all lighthearted fun and games.
The heated moments that frequently break out in the tank truly give the Kardashian Reality Empire a run for its money. Think about it: You have high-stakes investments, professional jealousy, FOMO over the next big product, and a difference in business ideals constantly clashing in a relatively close-quarters environment. Tensions get high. Curt comments will be exchanged. If one or more sharks angrily storm away, you know you’re in for a juicy episode.

4. You might actually end up buying something cool.
The tank essentially operates with the same format as The Voice: Every idea from the entrepreneurs have already been deemed worthy enough to appear on the show, but they still have to woo the sharks with their vision. Even if the product they’re toting doesn’t end up obtaining a deal — which is roughly half of the time — they get the same amount of exposure on prime-time television as the ones that ultimately succeed. In any given episode, there’s a chance you’ll see every type of product under the sun on display, and there’s an equally fair chance you may end up thinking to yourself, Oh, that’s a pretty cool idea, and I actually think I can use this in my life. Sure, something like the Simply Fit Board or Scrub Daddy isn’t going to show up in every episode, but the suspense of thinking it might makes for great television.

5. You’ll get a crash course in entrepreneurship.
Overall, Shark Tank is an easy watch of a show that’s both entertaining and educational. It’s hard not to remember a few tidbits about the inner workings of investing, pitching, and even product development that are presented in any given episode. By the time you’re done bingeing a few episodes, you’ll find yourself saying things like, Wow, he really overestimated his company’s valuation, and she has a lot of nerve asking the sharks for that low of an equity stake.

Why Shark Tank Is Such Reliably Great TV