No franchise defines our times like Syfy’s Sharknado series: It’s brazen; it’s ridiculous; it defies science; it celebrates D-list celebrities; and it distracts us from reality. (It may also be a product of Russian collusion; investigation pending.)
Sharknado is also apparently un-killable, as we’ve been gifted with a new chapter every summer since 2013, each one starring all-American hero Ian Ziering and mostly plastic cautionary tale Tara Reid. Let’s look back at the greatest shark-related franchise in history—there were only four Jaws films, and most were garbage; each Sharknado has been more wondrous than the last—as we prepare to drink in this weekend’s Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.
Sharknado (2013): The one that started it all, launching a phenomenon that actually made us root for California, reversing years of subliminal anti-Cal propaganda from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A massive cyclone (not a tornado, but who’s going to watch Sharkclone?) scoops up sharks from the Pacific Ocean and dumps them all over Los Angeles—and only beachside bar owner Fin Shepard (Ziering) can stop it! Would sharks really just chomp citizens indiscriminately as they fly through the air? Is the best weapon to battle soaring sea mammals a chainsaw? You’re already asking too many questions. Bonus factoid: Sharknado was the last thing Glee’s late Cory Monteith ever tweeted about. Makes you think.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014): The Empire Strikes Back of the series, or at least the Ernest Scared Stupid, Sharknado: The Second One (the title was the result of a crowd-sourcing campaign … yes, really) saw Fin and wife April (Reid) heading to New York City to promote her new book, How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, just as a Nor’easter drops another Sharknado! A new urban setting, amped-up antics, a celebrity guest-star list exploded to nearly 100 and a catchy, Ramones-esque theme song (“Go, go, go, go, go, go, go! / We’re all gonna die in a Sharknado!”) aside, the most unbelievable element of The Second One is the sight of a packed stadium for a Mets game.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015): Mr. Chompers Goes to Washington! In Washington, D.C., receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, Fin and April are called upon to handle the latest Sharknado—but not in time to save President Mark Cuban and Vice President Ann Coulter (which seems like such a quaint pairing now). Of an ever-expanding list of celebrity deplorables—which included Anthony Weiner and Michele Bachmann—one didn’t make the final cut: Jared the Subway Guy, because … standards. The Sharknado then heads south (causing the East Coast to be dubbed “Feast Coast”) to allow for plenty of Universal Orlando optics, as well as space shuttle debris to kill April … but does it?
Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016): Not quite: April is brought back as a cyborg (!), thanks to a Twitter campaign that allowed fans to vote #AprilLives or #AprilDies. (No such courtesy was extended to two-time franchise vet Mark McGrath, however—#SaveSugarRayDude!) In Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens, the chompstorm goes nationwide, hitting Nevada (Sandnado!), Texas (Oilnado and Firenado!), Arizona (Bouldernado!), NorCal (Hailnado!), Yellowstone National Park (Lavanado!), Utah (Mormonado?) and elsewhere (so many more ’nados). Any intended environmental message is undercut by the fact that April can now fly and shoot lasers, as well as the last known sighting of Stacey Dash.
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (Sunday, Aug. 6, Syfy): Taglined “Make America Bait Again,” Sharknado 5: Global Swarming finally takes the series international, dragging the Pope (Fabio) and the Queen of England (Charo) into the fray, as well as a veritable Celebrity Rehab of guest stars (including Margaret Cho, Bret Michaels, Downtown Julie Brown, Olivia Newton-John, Gilbert Gottfried and even a White Walker extra from Game of Thrones!). On a concerning note, Sharknado 5 is the first installment to not be written by Sharknado mastermind Thunder Levin, but everything will probably be fine … please, please, let everything be fine. The fate of Sharknado 7: Shark Side of the Moon is riding on it.