Things have not gone so smoothly for the hit Discovery Channel reality show, Deadliest Catch, as of late. Most people are aware of the terrible loss of Captain Phil Harris, but after the emotional episodes that documented that loss, the emotions seemed to turn from sadness to anger rather quickly. A heated dispute and lawsuit threat has now led to the departure of three more captains from the show.
For those of you who are unaware of the situation, allow us to first fill you in. It all started not too long ago when it was reported that the network was planning to sue cast members and brothers Andy Hillstrand and Johnathan Hillstrand, Co-Captains of the Time Bandit, who were doing work on a planned spinoff series called Hillstranded. According to Discovery, the brothers failed to complete work on the spinoff, forcing them to sue for $3 million. The Hillstrand brothers’ lawyer, Jeff Cohen, claimed that this was an act of extortion on his clients, and that they would have to sell their boats and fire their crews if the lawsuit was presented.
Captain Sig Hansen, who runs the Northwestern, then stepped in to share his views on the possible lawsuit with some not-so-kind words for the network. Hansen shares the same lawyer as the Hillstrands, and is obviously also friends with them, so it’s not surprising that he would faithfully take their side in this.
Even while handling this fragile situation, Discovery insisted that they had full plans of returning to the dangerous waters and filming their seventh season beginning next month. But these are blue collar, hard working, and full of pride fishermen, and it was hard to believe that some backlash would not come of Discovery’s hardball maneuver…which has now ultimately proven to be true.
In a joint statement released by the Hillstrands and Hansen, the trio explained that they’re simply unable to continue with the series:
We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately given the current situation with Discovery we are unable to continue participating in ‘Deadliest Catch.’ It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive ‘Catch’ fans we have met over the years.
Now the question becomes just how well Deadliest Catch will do now. Not only have they lost Phil Harris, but now all three of these popular captains over a lawsuit. And though Harris’s sons now run his boat, the show will also lose the Hillstrands’ Time Bandit, Hansen’s Northwestern, and both crews. Given that the boats sometimes feel like characters on the show as well, this is a major loss and you wonder if they can find a way to recover. Also, this might not even be the end of it; who knows how many other captains and crews will take offense to Discovery’s actions and stand up to them. As Hansen said in a statement before the decision to leave the show, “I want people to know the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent.”