Animal Planet: Where this Network Went Wrong

Animal Planet has been the home network of a number of great shows over the years. In the past the network has created and hosted some very well loved content, shows like The Crocodile Hunter and Wild Kingdom being two of the more iconic shows historically. One could argue though, that as time has gone on Animal Planet has gotten worse and worse in the content that it brings to the table. For a long time Animal Planet, created out of the Discovery Channel many years ago, was mostly offering animal documentary-style shows. In 2008 the network began to go downhill with a revamp of shows, creating more reality television and sensationalized stupidity than ever in the past. It could be because the ratings for educational shows versus trashy TV were such that the former was lost in favor of the mass appeal of the latter. As sad as that may be, it wouldn’t be a surprising motivation. It’s also possible that Discovery Channel had too much of the nature documentary niche for Animal Planet to share, so it was forced to differentiate and snatch up different viewers.

Since then, things have — with a few exceptions — continued to worsen or at least plunge onward at the same sub-par level. 2011 was a particularly rough year, producing My Cat From Hell, Finding Bigfoot, and Taking on Tyson. My Cat From Hell is a show starring Jackson Galaxy, and if that name is already enough, the shtick is that Galaxy is both a cat behaviorist and a musician who goes around fixing relationships between owners and their cats. This involves diagnostic phrases like “a pee graffiti artist” and of course Galaxy himself, a man of intense facial hair who carries around his guitar to the houses he’s visiting. The show has been on for six seasons so far and is currently suffering from a monetary-based lawsuit between Galaxy, the producer, and the publicist, according to TMZ. So just a high quality product all around.

Then there’s Finding Bigfoot, which isn’t as cute and charmingly kooky as one could wish for, more bad acting and frustratingly poor production and writing (even for the worst sort of documentary). That’s not to mention that it’s hardly the sort of show you hope to find on Animal Planet in terms of educational value.

And speaking of the perpetuity of ignorance, the channel has also introduced two documentaries entitled The Body Found and The New Evidence which features fake actor scientists and extremely bad CGI showing what purports to be evidence of mermaids. The documentaries are funny, until you realize via the internet that people are taking them at face value. This is, needless to say, disturbing, and probably is a result of less-than educated individuals who have been fooled by the reputation for quality programming Animal Planet still clings to from the past. Finally, we can’t forget to address Taking on Tyson, which is a show about Mike Tyson training birds for pigeon racing. So there’s that.

There are still remnants of good TV to be found on Animal Planet to be fair. Wild Deep and Human Planet are more of what you’d expect from the old Animal Planet; higher quality documentaries about wildlife and human adaptation. Human Planet owes much of its high quality to the BBC though, and it was co-produced by Discovery, only then to eventually air on Animal Planet, on of its subsidiaries. Of course, there is also The Puppy Bowl, which is hard not to love since it’s just a bunch of puppies running around on a tiny fake football field, and it’s been the relief of many apathetic football viewers during the football season. There’s also enough puppy/football crossover humor to make it have mass appeal.

I can say that those alegations [of Deflategate in the Puppy Bowl] are 100 percent false, and the reason I know this is that as the only human involved in Puppy Bowl, it is up to me to personally inspect every single ball on the field,” said referee Dan Schachner to DVM360. “Unless, of course, they are neutered, in which case, I do not.”

It’s admittedly a little bit weird how huge the show has gotten to be, but at least there is no false claims to high quality; the puppy bowl is about putting cute animals on camera and appealing to a basic human reaction. The creators can basically just thank the amygdala for having a cute receptor and go home with their pay checks with no further effort.

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