I have so much television to catch up on. 

People keep giving me wonderful recommendations.  My friend Susan has been telling me for years to watch Vikings and Game of Thrones.  Nina, who never watches anything (and thus her recommendations carry triple weight) swears by Virgin River.  There’s The Crown, Emily In Paris, and Jack Ryan.

I’m obsessed with Outlander and haven’t yet made time for Season Five.

I know I would love most or all of these shows.  But lately, every time I’m not watching a movie I find myself turning to a little old Friday night network show I have always loved.

Move over Bridgerton, I’m watching Shark Tank.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the premise is simple.  Fledgling entrepreneurs pitch their products to a panel of investors (the most famous is Mark Cuban) and if interested, the investors will make them an offer and (ideally) fight one another for a deal.

Even if you don’t watch the show, you’ve heard of at least a few of the products.  There’s the Scrub Daddy, the tough kitchen sponge you’ve probably got on your sink.  There’s the Squatty Potty, Bombas Socks, and Cousins Main Lobster Food Trucks.

In a time of exceptional cynicism, Shark Tank is a breath of optimistic air.

The show celebrates hustle, ingenuity, and hard work.  The contestants are full of—what’s the word for it?

I know:  Moxie.

It’s the best rendering of the American Dream—the version we haven’t heard much about lately on the evening news.  It reminds us that in America, with a little of that moxie, you can build a better mousetrap in your basement and change your life.

And maybe make someone’s else life—and the world—a little better.

Already this season I watched a teenage boy and his dad pitch a plastic cup that holds leftover paint.  They built the prototype in their basement and already have it on the shelves in some stores.  The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants designed a cap that allows parents to easily apply diaper cream to their babies.  The woman—whose native language is not English—read a book on how to apply for a patent for her invention.  A man pitched meatless jerky made from mushrooms that I would never have tried if not for the enthusiastic reaction of the sharks.

I went to buy some on Amazon—sold out.

The products are fun, but the real charm of the show is the interaction of the sharks (the investors) with the contestants and one another.

The sharks are brutally honest—it is their own money they’re putting on the line when they invest—but never mean-spirited. 

When someone comes in asking for half-a-million bucks for two percent of their company that’s barely sold a thing, head shark Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful) brings them right back down to earth.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and QVC Queen Lori Greiner have an almost sibling rivalry.  Cuban rarely loses a deal when he really wants the product, and exasperates Lori when she can’t lure a contestant away from his fame with a better deal.  Yet they often go in on deals together and poke fun at one another.

All the sharks rib and joke, but get down to business when there’s a potential moneymaker on the carpet.

The motto of the sharks—and the show—could be:   Work Hard, Play Hard, and Good Things Will Happen.

Words we all can live by.

So Virgin River and Game of Thrones are just going to have to wait.  Right now I’ve got to find out if this guy with a huge mustache is going to get a deal for his eco-friendly ski wax….