a fishing show as the sexiest thing on television

You can tell I’m on vacation by all the mainstream media I’m consuming. Next up: River Monsters. It might be the sexiest show on television, and no I am not being sarcastic.

My sister introduced me to it maybe a month ago, and I assured her that there was no way I’d get into it. It’s a fishing show, you see, featuring this dude, the auspiciously named Jeremy Wade, who travels around the world and fishes for very, very big fish in fresh water.

I repeat: an hour-long tv show about one guy fishing. How could this be a show I would enjoy?


What I find compelling about the show is Mr Wade’s abiding need to catch these fish, his deep and absolute commitment to a singular passion, even in the face of skepticism about the ultimate purpose or even responsibility of doing so. This is a man with no friends, my sister and I joked after the second episode, a man whose first and only real interest is catching fresh water fish, to the cost of his ability to engage with other humans outside the context of fish.


See, all the while he’s acting out “The Old Man and the Sea”: “It’s as if the fish is taunting me,” he says. “It feels like a test of character that I’m failing at the moment.” Like Buddha, he’s being taught by the river. That, my friends, is sexy.

But he’s at his sexiest when he’s confronting his own privilege as a middle-class white guy fishing catch-and-release with expensive equipment for sport, in places where his 100-pound catch could feed an entire village of people who are struggling to eke out an existence on the river.

And through the disintegration of his entitlement and the deepening of his spirit through self-confrontation runs his passion–consistent, relentless, enlivened even, by his deepening understanding of its place in the reality of human life on Earth.

All of which I find genuinely sexy.

Forget the “solving a mystery” gimmick. Forget the giantness of the fish. Forget the ecological message. Remember his left index finger resting on the line, attending to minute vibrations, and the French, Portuguese, and various other languages in which he can talk about fish, and he way he totally forgets he’s presenting a television show when the line rips out at last, after hours or days or weeks of waiting. Remember Mr Wade’s genuine agony when a fish goes off the line and his glowing joy when he has the fish in the boat or on the shore.

THAT is what’s sexy, friends. Because it’s passion.

So here’s some bad advice:

Single? Want to attract people? Get yourself a soul-devouring passion*.

(*Warning: soul-devouring passion probably obscures your ability to have substantial relationships with the people your passion attracts.)