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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Magnificence in the downright dirty

DirtyjobsI was watching a terrific interview with Mike Rowe the other night, he's the host of Discovery Channel's popular series "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" that's now in its third season. How dirty? We're talking downright disgusting jobs ranging having to transport tons of cow dung...to cleaning up roadkill...to cleaning the city's sewers... to many more sticky, icky tasks.

(A promo for the show is here.)

What is so magnificent about this series? Many things, actually:

They listen to the public: as I understand, only about 20 of the 150+ episodes were found by the producers--all the other segments have come in through viewer's suggestions.

A new reality: instead of this being yet another reality show, it's a formula where the host is a guest and does the dirty job on which they're basing a segment (and Mike Rowe is one heck of a relate-able, everyman host).

It's positive: while I can safely say that viewers don't want to live in "a day in the life," the people who live this life are very positive, oh-so real and really funny. Their dirty jobs aren't their "lot in life" but, many times a job where they have a lot of freedom. And even a lot of fun.

It's respectful: I don't know about you, but when I see what many of these workers go through I have a really hard time griping about my workload, being these guys deal with a load of crap (literally). But the show is in no way a mockery, it celebrates the world's dirtiest jobs and the unsung heroes that do them.

It counters a trend: in a time where we are awash with "infotainment" shows celebrating the elite, primped and pretty I'm gaining a newfound respect for the downright dirty. We don't need anymore plastic celebs, we need the real deal these types of shows give us. Oh, and it's given me a new reason to watch Discovery (I otherwise only watch it for Shark Week).

Interesting tidbit: in the interview Mike Rowe told Larry King that he had an uncanny success rate at aligning with unsuccessful shows. But he kept trying new things...decided to get his hands dirty...and now has quite a hit on his hands.

Yep, sometimes you (literally!) gottta step in a lotta sh*t to come out smelling like a rose.


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I love that show CK. His personality and humor win over most every single person he meets and he sure makes you appreciate them. He's also found a good match in the Ford brand who is integrated into the programming and runs ads throughout.

Mike Rowe is the hardest working man in showbusiness. I think he produces Deadliest Catch (the show that made rock stars of snow crab fishermen in Alaska), plus Dirty Jobs, plus voice overs for just about everything on the Discovery Channel. My 9 year old can pick him out in any commercial he's in.

Self-affacing, authentic, and not afraid to make fun of himself, his crew and whatever nasty thing he has to do.

I never saw the show, but here in Belgium we have some similar series. I think that the honesty and genuinity of the visited workers is also a remarkable ting. No matter how dirty their jobs are, they have a certain pride of their jobs and delivered work.

I, too, am a fan.

A man who is willing to get his hands dirty in order to show us how so many live...and do the jobs that we would never fathom, but have fun in doing them? Yep, there's nothing not to like about this show.

Paris and Nicole may proclaim to do these jobs on their "Simple Life" but it's so staged. Not this show. We need more real reality...not BS reality ;-).

"Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" is terrific. It lives up to its name, and sometimes I have to turn away from the screen, but he makes it all very entertaining.

BUT, the line in your article that really caught my attention was, "I otherwise only watch [The Discovery Channel] for Shark Week." You've got to be kidding!

A lot of The Discovery Channels best programming is shared with its sister channel, The Science Channel.

Myth Busters
How It's Made (also on Science)
Extreme Engineering (also on Science)
Build It Bigger
Survivorman (also on Science)
(+ Science Channel)
Building The Ultimate
Beyond Tomorrow
Extreme Machines
Future Car
House of the Future
(+ these Science Channel features on Space)
Mar Underground
Revealing Mars
Roving Mars
Mars Direct
The Sun
The Planets
Venus Unveiled
From Earth to the Moon
First on the Moon: The Untold Story
(+ these Discovery Channel features on Egypt)
Quest for the Lost Pharaoh
Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen
Nefertiti Resurrected
The Sphinx Unmasked
Building the Great Pyramid
King Tut's Mystery Tomb Opened
The Lost Mummy of Imhotep

And that's just this week!
Between the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel, it's amazing I find time for any other TV programming at all.

While my viewing clearly skews to my interests, with all the amazing content available on cable (and the web, for that matter), it astounds me that Americans are willing to waste their lives away watching garbage like American Idol or the Simple Life.

Disclaimer— I have no affiliation with The Discovery Channel.

I'm glad to see you giving them some exposure. I hope you find that there's a lot more quality content there besides Shark Week.

-always enjoy reading your blog,

@Chris: Thanks for a fab viewing list! My TV viewing (besides news) has seriously dropped-off in the past two years...but perhaps Discovery will get me to tune in again. There are also some greats on The History Channel that I just eat up.

Yeah, I've always loved Shark Week...blame it on Dad for bringing me to see Jaws 2 when I was a little girl (and he brought me while I was at the beach on a rainy day -- eek!).

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