Dirty Jobs marathon airs today

One of the Discovery Channel’s more engaging series doesn’t follow the same kind of formula as its Deadliest Catch or the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers. Instead, Dirty Jobs follows host Mike Rowe as he does, well, jobs that are dirty.

The show survives on the strength of his personality, and on the personalities of the real people he interacts with while learning about and doing their jobs. Still, it’s very much about Mike trying to do their jobs with their guidance, not just about the jobs or the workers themselves. And that’s what makes the show work, as Mike Rowe is both a stand-in for viewers and entertaining on his own. From working in a coal mine to stamping concrete, he seems genuinely horrified sometimes, and also doesn’t pretend to be an expert. But it doesn’t come across as shtick as he stumbles his way through many of the jobs, making fun of himself and the job itself.

The show also doesn’t pretend like it’s not being filmed, as its host talks directly to viewers, and the editors regularly bypass the fourth wall when they show outtakes or shots of the crew. That makes it even more inviting and appealing, like we’re hanging out with Mike and his friends.

Dirty Jobs has been on for two years now, and has aired more than 60 episodes. Starting at 9 a.m. today, Discovery Channel airs 18 back-to-back episodes of the show, although some repeat within that time, including the 100th job special. New episodes air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET; next Tuesday, a new episode will air that features Mike working as a snake wrangler.

Dirty Jobs [Discovery]

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.