‘Dirty Jobs’: Mike Rowe Explained What the ‘Larger Purpose’ of Show Was

by John Jamison

Since 2005, Mike Rowe has made it his mission to celebrate all of those with occupations that many see as undesirable. He did so on Dirty Jobs for years, and soon, the show will be back once again. On the surface, it’s a show that puts a TV host in the shoes of everyday workers, sometimes hilariously. But if you ask Rowe, there’s a larger purpose at play.

That purpose has informed Mike Rowe’s entire career and life to some degree. Now, he does his best to articulate it so that others can understand what makes a dirty job “undesirable.” In a 2019 interview with Plough Magazine, he explained what the larger purpose of Dirty Jobs was.

“If the show has a larger purpose, it’s to remind people that blue-collar and white-collar work are not opposites – they’re two sides of the same coin. Likewise, the skills gap is not a mystery – it’s a reflection of what we value, and what we don’t,” said Rowe.

And Mike Rowe is right to remind people of that. Plumbing isn’t held in the same esteem as a career in law, yet without plumbers, life as we know it would be a nightmare. The same could be said for lawyers, but to a lesser degree.

At the end of the day, society is held together by the men and women who pursue these careers in welding, building, digging, etc. But where would we be without the doctors? That’s the point Mike Rowe is trying to make. The coin has value, no matter which side of it is facing up.

You Can’t Fix a Problem Until You Recognize One Exists, According to Mike Rowe

Now, whether or not being disconnected from the world around you is a problem is not for us to decide. But Mike Rowe personally came to a realization soon after starting Dirty Jobs. He realized that he hadn’t become removed from the things that make society work.

“You can’t reconnect until or unless you first realize you’ve become disconnected. That’s what happened to me. Over time, I became increasingly disconnected from a lot of things that interested me as a young kid in the Boy Scouts. The first few episodes of Dirty Jobs brought that to my attention,” Rowe continued in the interview.

It’s surprisingly easy to misunderstand Mike Rowe’s purpose with Dirty Jobs. He recalled a time when a presidential candidate said that there was a need for more welders than philosophers.

“People were like, ‘Oh man, he’s singing your song!’ And I said, actually he’s not. It’s not one or the other. What we need is more welders who can discuss Kant and Descartes, and we need more philosophers who can run an even bead and repair a leaky faucet,” said Rowe.