Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 169 (list of episodes)
Final episode date 12 September 2012
Network Discovery Channel
Starring Mike Rowe
No. of seasons 8
First episode date 26 July 2005
Theme song We Care a Lot
|Opening theme "We Care A Lot"
by Faith No More
(Seasons 1, 3-7)
by Matt Koskenmaki
Composer(s) David Vanacore (Vanacore Music)
Cast Mike Rowe, Peter Schmeichel
Similar Deadliest Catch, Billy the Exterminator, Verminators, American Chopper, The Job
Dirty Jobs is a TV series on the Discovery Channel in which host Mike Rowe is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. The show, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, premiered with three pilot episodes in November 2003. It returned as a series on July 26, 2005, running for eight seasons until September 12, 2012. The show's setting was refocused in Australia for the eighth season, advertised as Dirty Jobs Down Under.
There is also a European edition of the show hosted by former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
On November 21, 2012, Rowe announced that Discovery Channel had cancelled Dirty Jobs. In 2014, Rowe announced that CNN had picked up Somebody's Gotta Do It, starring him and featuring many of the Dirty Jobs crew.
The series was nominated for 5 Primetime Emmys: 3 for Outstanding Reality Program, which Rowe was nominated for as a producer, and 2 for Cinematography.
A worker or team of workers takes on Rowe as a fully involved assistant for a typical work day, working hard to complete every task as best he can despite discomfort, hazards, or repulsive situations - and, at times, all three. The Dirty Jobs crew, including field producer Dave Barsky, cameramen Doug Glover, Troy Paff, and Dan Eggiman, and audio technician Josh Atkins, often get just as dirty as Rowe does. Rowe frequently takes on-camera jabs at Dave Barsky, regarding Barsky's penchant for setting up scenes where Rowe will encounter the most dangerous or dirty part of the job in order to get a great camera shot; indeed, the entire crew frequently joke and prank each other on-camera, for example, when a safety officer finishes going over the rules and regulations for the Billboard Installer job in the third season (the safety officer asks Rowe to sign a release, which he does while mock-voicing the words he signs: "Dave...Barsky..."), or attempting to film Troy defecating in the woods.
Rowe engages in near-constant self-deprecating humor, making what he calls "dirty jokes", but rarely more than the occasional playful jab at the workers themselves. Nearly every job is even more difficult than he had expected, and this often has him expressing admiration and respect for the workers' skills and their willingness to take on jobs that most people avoid. The show always begins with the following quote from Rowe, usually spoken while in the midst of a particularly dirty task:
My name's Mike Rowe, and this is my job. I explore the country looking for people who aren't afraid to get dirty — hard-working men and women who earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us. Now, get ready to get dirty.
The show is a spin-off of a segment host Mike Rowe once did on a local San Francisco show called Evening Magazine. The segment was called Somebody's Gotta Do It. After completing a graphic piece on cow artificial insemination, Rowe was inundated with letters expressing "shock, horror, fascination, disbelief, and wonder". Rowe sent the tape to numerous networks, including Comedy Central, who replied saying "At this time, our fall schedule does not allow for a talk show that takes place inside a septic tank." Ultimately Rowe also sent the tape to the Discovery Channel, which commissioned a series based on this format. Dirty Jobs was produced by Craig Piligian (executive producer) of Pilgrim Films & Television. The Discovery Channel executive producer was Gena McCarthy.
On May 6, 2013 Mike Rowe posted on Facebook that he was open to creating a new show that is similar to Dirty Jobs using Somebody's Gotta Do It, the title of the original segment that had inspired Dirty Jobs. Rowe said that if half the people on his Facebook fan page said "Hey, Mike, here's 10 bucks for jet fuel and basic production costs," he'd "put the band back together and start shooting Somebody's Gotta Do It tomorrow." On April 10, 2014 Rowe announced on his Facebook page that CNN had decided to air the show.
In July 2006, the show aired two special episodes to kick off and wrap up Discovery's annual Shark Week, of which Mike Rowe was the host. The episodes featured him in a number of jobs related to the animals, some as outlandish as shark repellent tester and shark suit tester, both of which necessitated his jumping into a shark feeding frenzy. As a pun on Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" theme, the two episodes were named "Jobs That Bite" and "Jobs That Bite... Harder" for the opening and closing hours respectively.
In late August 2006, the show reached a milestone with Mike Rowe's 100th dirty job. This was commemorated with a special two-hour episode which mainly showed Mike's day with the U.S. Army's 187th Ordnance Battalion at Fort Jackson, and included bloopers plus an "about me" segment of Mike's crew. At the end of the episode, Mike Rowe and Dave Barsky had a guitar/banjo duet and performed a song about the 100 dirty jobs. A 2-hour 150th job special aired in early December 2007, which combined footage of Rowe's 150th job (working on a yak and bison farm in Montana) with footage of a party held at a San Francisco garbage dump where people featured in past Dirty Jobs segments were reunited with Rowe. In 2009, the show returned for a fifth season, with Rowe commenting in promotional spots, "After 200 dirty jobs, I'm back for more."
It was renewed for a seventh season, which Rowe described as including "a broader geographical palate."
An eighth season, marketed as Dirty Jobs Down Under, premiered on August 22, 2012. There were only four episodes filmed for season eight.
As a result of being featured in the season 1 episode "Vexcon", exterminator Billy Bretherton later starred in his own series on A&E, Billy the Exterminator.
Each episode ends with a segment, usually shot at a previous dirty job, where Rowe tells the viewers that the show's continued existence depends on viewer submissions of suggestions for additional dirty jobs, and instructs them to go to the show's website for details on how to submit ideas (this segment is, however, usually edited out of the Canadian broadcasts of the series on Discovery Channel Canada). Rowe has often noted on-screen and off-screen that without viewer contributions, the show would be lost; Rowe originally concocted a list of a dozen jobs that could be featured in the three episodes that served as the show's pilot, and within days after the first episode aired, viewers flooded Discovery Channel with e-mail and video featuring their own dirty jobs, a tradition that has kept the show going ever since. As Rowe explained to Craig Ferguson on an episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in July 2007 about his original cache of jobs for the pilots, "I haven't had an original idea since then".
According to roadkill taxidermy artist Stephen Paternite, Dirty Jobs filmed a segment featuring him in 2003, which was ultimately cut by the Discovery Channel as "too gross". The segment follows Mike Rowe and Paternite as they gather and skin dead raccoons, which Paternite will eventually turn into art pieces. The segment is available to view on Paternite's website, and on YouTube, under the name "Too Gross for Discovery". In an interview on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Rowe also mentioned that there were several segments which they have chosen not to air because they were too disturbing, including a "body farmer". Even aired segments can be heavily edited, such as the "skull cleaner" segment, the final aired version of which Mike has likened to "The Sound of Music with the songs edited out" because parts of it were deemed too graphic for television.
There is also an episode produced in 2006 wherein Rowe visited his doctor while producers Piligian and Eddie Barbini try two dirty jobs themselves. The episode, entitled "Mike's Day Off", was never aired in the United States for that season; it was only available as a DVD-exclusive episode (bundled with the episode "Skull Cleaner") and a downloadable episode in iTunes. The episode has been aired in some local Discovery Channel feeds such as those of Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as on Discovery Channel Canada before finally being aired in the United States on March 3, 2009. Various episodes air in certain countries with different scenes.
The show's theme song was originally Faith No More's "We Care A Lot" which features the lyrics, "Oh, it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it". In the first half of 2007, it was replaced with a generic theme song by Matt Koskenmaki (who also did the other music cues for the show), due to rights issues; older episodes aired at the time had their introductions reedited. Mike Rowe has said "Bottom line, the rights to 'We Care a Lot' were either not renewed on time, or not properly acquired in the first place". Although the network has not issued any statement clarifying the situation, "We Care A Lot" returned as the show's theme song beginning with the June 26, 2007 episode and has been retained on subsequent DVD releases of earlier episodes.
Season 2 commercials for the show feature the song "Dirty White Boy" by Foreigner. Season 3 commercials feature Rowe sharing the stage with a pig positioned on a rounded white pedestal, with nondescript formal-sounding light instrumental music in the background.
Rowe often sings on-camera during the segments as part of a sardonic hat-tip to his days as an opera singer. During the candy making segment in episode 34 ("Fuel Tank Cleaner"), Rowe discovers that one of the candy makers makes a confection called "opera fudge" and ask if she sings opera during the making of opera fudge, then belts out a segment of "Vecchia zimarra" from Puccini's La Bohéme. During the cow pots segment of episode 47 ("Poo Pot Maker"), Rowe imitates the singing gondoliers of Venice while paddling around the liquid holding lagoon on the Freund farm: "'O Sole Mio/Don't know the words/I've paddled for hours/In ponds of turds..." In a 2007 episode set at Prince George's Stadium with Mike spending the day doing the "dirty jobs" associated with groundskeeping and dugout maintenance for the Bowie Baysox minor league baseball team in Bowie, Maryland, Mike ended the segment singing the National Anthem prior to the game and throwing out the first pitch.
When Mike reads the very last piece of viewer mail in the viewer's choice episode, he was asked if he could sing the Dirty Jobs Theme Song because his online bio says that he used to be an opera singer. So he explained that one night, as they sat on "Foley" Creek (actually "Folly" Creek, but he has a tendency to pronounce it incorrectly), after a night of oysters and drinking (likely during the Oyster Harvester segment of the shrimper episode), he, Juke Joint Johnny and Sam (likely Silky Sam) jotted down some lyrics and the "official, unofficial Dirty Jobs Theme Song" was born. This shortest version of the song clocked in at just under a minute in length, and it varies a bit from later versions, but it is fun in that it was less planned than the later ones.
At the end of the pipe organ specialist segment of the geoduck farmer episode, Mike Rowe sang what he called the Dirty Jobs Anthem. Rowe reprised this moment in the "Leather Tanner" episode from the third season on an antique piano at the tannery.
At the conclusion of a two-hour special edition commemorating Mike's 100th dirty job, he and field producer Dave Barsky faked a guitar/banjo duet, featuring an extended version of this anthem which ran a little over two minutes in length (Rowe actually sang all the parts while Rowe's friend Matt played all the instruments). The extended song differs slightly from the shorter versions which aired previously, and even the words that are similar vary somewhat. Mike performed the song again with slightly different lyrics on the 150th Job Extravaganza with the Burning Embers.
Discovery Channel issued the following statement in its publicity of the program:Host and everyman Mike Rowe gets the grimy scoop on downright nasty, but vital, occupations in DIRTY JOBS. Rowe could be processing smelly seafood in a fish factory, collecting bat guano for prized fertilizer or cleaning septic tanks to maintain a fresh-smelling environment. His apprenticeship never ends as he learns from those who keep our world running smoothly.
Discovery Channel has released over 130 episodes on DVD and on iTunes.