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Another Dip into the Shark Tank

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After much deliberation – or at the very least a second episode – I think I've figured out the biggest problem with Shark Tank. I know that last week I discussed the changes between the British version and the American version and where one succeeded and the other failed, and there were really some unsatisfying things on either side.  However, I don't think that anything I said last week – besides the quality of entrepreneur – is where the U.S. version finds its biggest obstacle.  Actually, I think the problem is pretty simple, it's "Shark" Kevin O'Leary.

Perhaps he's just a bad human being, perhaps he's just an overly-hard businessman, perhaps he's been told by a producer to be the "bad guy," whatever the case might be, he's almost enough to make me want to turn off the show and never watch it again.

Now, the biggest problem with the show's biggest problem?  It's that I know exactly what he'd say in response to my last paragraph – "there's no emotion here, this is about moneKevin O'Learyy.  I want to make money, that's all I want to do.  Do you want to make money?"  Not only is the statement predictable, it's obnoxious.  Plus, he may be rich, but he's absolutely blind if he can't see that there's a human aspect to business.

And there he goes again, "there's no emotion here, this is about money.  I want to make money, that's all I want to do.  Do you want to make money?"  Do you see how annoying he is, here I am writing this and he insists on throwing his two cents in over and over again.  No, that's not a direct quote from the show, but after watching last night's episode I can hear the man in my brain saying those words.  I think he should apologize, it's not very nice of him.  You do know what he'd say to that though, don't you?

Am I beginning to get my point across?  I thought last night's episode was far better than the previous week's, I still have some issues with the set, and the digital shark tanks (seriously, are those necessary?), but the entrepreneurs were far stronger last night and the Sharks seemed more into the whole game.

Watching the British and American versions of the show, I've often found myself wondering whether the show lives or dies based on the entrepreneurs or the sharks, and I think that – if I'm honest – it's both.  The show can't be a success with entrepreneurs who don't have good ideas and with Sharks who aren't willing to negotiate a little and have some fun.

Last night, everyone seemed to be having fun on the Shark's side, and they even came up with some good entrepreneurs on the other side too.  The show being successful (in terms of quality, which in an ideal world would bring ratings) hinges on the Sharks investing, and they're not going to do that if they don't have someone and something to invest in – entrepreneurs being reticent (as we saw) to divest themselves from their company and the Sharks (wisely) not wanting to get into bed with a less than intelligent entrepreneur.

So, based on that, who would ever want to work with Kevin O'Leary?  I assume corporations and big businesses wouldn't have a huge problem, but as a single-person company or an entrepreneur looking for cash, I can't see myself wanting to work with the guy, at least not without other Sharks as a part of the deal.

And that, I think is what O'Leary hasn't yet worked out with Shark Tank.  If, as he says, it's all about making money and that's all that matters, perhaps its not the entrepreneur who has sunk all their hopes and dreams (not to mention cash) into the product or company they're looking for help with who has to change, perhaps it's O'Leary.  Perhaps if he put on a smile and acted like a decent human being he could make a lot more of the cash he so desperately loves.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.