Susan Pierce: At the request of a reader, this week we watched Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.”
OH. MY. GOODNESS.
At its worst, this show will make your gag reflex work overtime; at best, viewers might only squirm in their seats. But you’ll always be amazed that any paid employee will do these jobs.
Host Mike Rowe looks like a hybrid of NBC news anchor Brian Williams and Jim “Hey Vern” Varney. He’s an affable guy who will evidently try anything once,
On the show, he tries out jobs that the average TV viewer probably never stopped to ask themselves, ‘Who does that for a living?’ For example, who cleans the inside of garbage trucks? Or, who collects bat poop for scientific research?
Mugging into the camera as he works, Rowe shows viewers what each dirty job involves. His quick wit and fearlessness make it easy for viewers to connect with him.
Last week, he cleaned barnacles off a deep-sea buoy with the Coast Guard. Now I have a greater understanding of why being keelhauled was such a cruel punishment to early sailors.
Then he was the guinea pig who had to wiggle up inside the buoy to clean out debris. The man barely could fit his shoulders through the opening and had to inch his way inside. It made me claustrophobic just watching it on the screen.
Christine Simmons: Rowe is a man full of surprises. He started his career as a singer for the Baltimore Opera, then was a QVC host when TV shopping was just beginning.
I’ve watched a couple of videos on YouTube of him singing the national anthem, and he has an amazing voice. Before “Dirty Jobs,” I had never heard of him, but he’s now the host/narrator of many shows on Discovery Channel as well as Ford truck commercials.
I’ve been watching “Dirty Jobs” for awhile now, and the things this man does — or at least tries to do — never fails to amaze me. On top of that, he’s hilarious.
Susan: On the surface, “Dirty Jobs” appears to be just another version of shock TV; as though producers are testing viewers to learn how gross they can get before we’ll turn it off.
But, stop and consider that every job Mike Rowe takes on is actually someone’s paid occupation. So after watching a few “Dirty Job” episodes, I have a much greater appreciation for the service industry, and I’m grateful for my low-risk desk job.
Christine: Not all of the episodes are gross (OK, SOME of them aren’t gross). Unfortunately, Susan, you just happened to watch a couple of the super-gross shows.
Some of them are extremely dangerous, and Rowe takes on those jobs with as much enthusiasm as the gross shows.
When he was in the Pacific Northwest cutting lumber, that was one of the few times I’ve seen him look a little scared about trying a job. I think that huge log-splitter intimidated him a bit. My Dad would love having one of those. But after seeing this episode, I’m glad he doesn’t.
Overall, I think this is one of the best reality shows on air, and according to the ratings, I’m not alone. It’s the No. 1 reality show right now.
I agree, it’s not for the squeamish, but it’s never boring.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...