HomeEntertainmentMike Rowe Tells Why ‘Dirty Jobs’ Still Connects With American TV Audiences

Mike Rowe Tells Why ‘Dirty Jobs’ Still Connects With American TV Audiences

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Dirty Jobs, as we know it today, hit the airwaves in 2003. For eight seasons, Mike Rowe introduced the world to some of the hardest, dirtiest, and most important jobs and the people who do them. Then, in 2012, the show’s run ended abruptly. Since then, fans around the world have wanted to know when it’s coming back. Now, we have an answer. Dirty Jobs is coming back in January.

Recently, Mike Rowe appeared on Uncut with Jay Cutler to talk about a wide range of topics. During their chat, the return of Dirty Jobs came up. Then, Cutler asked Rowe what made the show so popular among fans and why people are eagerly awaiting its return today, years after its run ended.

Mike Rowe on the Enduring Popularity of Dirty Jobs

Mike Rowe said that the show’s honesty and transparency made it an enduring hit. “I think there’s a modesty to it that a lot of other reality shows don’t have. Dirty Jobs is a very pure, transparent show. We didn’t do any preproduction, we didn’t do any casting, we certainly didn’t do any writing. We came in hot, rolled cameras and got what we got.” Rowe then added that they didn’t do second takes on the show. So, it was the one reality TV show that was giving audiences what they were looking for: reality.

About his policy on second takes, Mike Rowe said, “You’re calling this reality. Why would you do a second take? That’s called a performance.”

Rowe went on to highlight another thing that made Dirty Jobs so popular. “The smartest thing I did – maybe the only smart thing – was to insist on getting a behind-the-scenes camera that never stopped rolling.” This camera allowed Mike Rowe to continue taping through any issues that would halt a normal production. More importantly, it allowed him to communicate those issues to his audience.

According to Mike Rowe, that camera and the interactions he used it for were key to the show’s success. “It was those little moments that built a level of trust with the viewer that I do think was pretty unusual and gave us permission to stay on the air for a long time.”

The Humble Origins of Dirty Jobs

Mike Rowe told Jay Cutler that Dirty Jobs started out in 2001 as a segment called “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” on a San Francisco-based show called Evening Magazine. “The first thing took place in a sewer with a sewer inspector,” Rowe recalled. “Then, I was artificially inseminating a cow and collecting semen from a bull called Hunsucker Commando. It was crazy. Crazy stories.”

The stories were too crazy for some viewers, and they sent in stacks of letters complaining about the segment. However, Rowe said the letters that really mattered came from people who wrote in to say, “Man, you think that’s dirty, you should meet my brother, my cousin, my uncle, my dad, my mom, my sister, wait ‘til you see what they do.”

At that point, Mike Rowe said, he knew they were on to something special. He was absolutely correct.