Jobs that Bite is an insane clone of Dirty Jobs, and Mike Rowe’s response is a must-read

The now-cancelled series Dirty Jobs was hosted by Mike Rowe and produced by Pilgrim Films and Television for the Discovery Channel; the new series Jobs that Bite is hosted by Jeremy Brandt and produced by Half Yard Productions for NatGeo WILD. Yet the new series is such a blatant rip-off of the cancelled series that it’s almost a remake: It even features Brandt watching the exact same camels breeding that were featured on Mike Rowe’s show in 2009, and has the exact same name as 2006 special Shark Week episodes of his show.

The similarities don’t end at reshot scenes and Rowe and Brandt’s similar appearances and demeanor. Jobs that Bite‘s executive producers, Sean Gallagher and Abby Greensfelder, happen to be former executives at Discovery where they worked on Dirty Jobs: Gallagher is a former VP of development for Discovery whose bio points out he was an executive producer of the Discovery series, while Greensfelder’s bio is far more direct: It says “Greensfelder was senior vice president of programming and development for Discovery Channel. Under her direction, Discovery launched a number of successful series that have become signature programs for the network, including Deadliest Catch, [and] Dirty Jobs…”

Incredible. Their description for the new series even has the audacity to say that “Nat Geo WILD found a small sliver of Americans…” as if some of those exact same Americans, including the camels’ owners, weren’t discovered by other producers for a show on another network.

Dirty Jobs was officially cancelled one year ago, and back then, Rowe pointed out that “over two-dozen separate programs have evolved from Dirty Jobs.” But he wasn’t referring to the one that would so shamelessly rip off his old show; the primary difference is that the new show focuses only on jobs related to animals.

Jobs that Bite is so much of a clone that, as a viewer observed in a question to Mike, Brandt “not only does the same jobs you’ve already done, he goes to the same places! He works with the same animals! Even the same people!!! WTF???” She adds, “To say this show is a rip-off of Dirty Jobs is an insult to the word ‘rip-off.’”

That would be an understatement–this is really insane–and it would seem Mike Rowe agrees, though he admits he has not seen the show. His response on Facebook is hilariously sarcastic and droll. While he starts by saying “there’s no way my friends at the National Geographic Channel would engage in the behavior you describe. I’ve always known Nat Geo to be a place of great integrity and originality,” he adds several post-scripts that are a must-read:

“PPPPS. Reading further into the origins of this project, I see now that the producers of ‘Jobs That Bite’ on National Geographic used to work as executives at the Discovery Channel. In fact, they are the exact same people who greenlit Dirty Jobs back in 2003. But so what? Does that mean they were attempting to deliberately reengineer Dirty Jobs for National Geographic without me? Of course not.

Look — just because the same two people who originally greenlit Dirty Jobs for Discovery have hired another ‘everyman’ (who does NOT wear a ball cap) and sent him out in the world to have random encounters with random animals in a brand-new show that just so happens to have the same exact title (with a totally different font) as another show I used to host on a network that has always competed directly with the network now airing the new show with same title and the similar host — is no reason to assume that anyone is acting in a way that’s inconsistent with the prevailing standards in today’s topsy-turvy world of nonfiction cable programming. I believe that’s called a ‘coincidence.’

As anyone in my industry will tell you, there are only two or three ideas that have ever worked in the history of television. It would be unreasonable to expect producers to ignore the success of past programs, especially ones that they themselves had a hand in making successful! I see no real harm in revisiting a proven formula, as long as the content and the format aren’t identical to the prior project.

PPPPPS. Well, I must confess — this is a bit disconcerting. According to Nat Geo’s website, ‘ostriches, camels, worms, shrimp, oysters, giraffes, bears, lions, hawks, mules, horses, bees, and monkeys’ will all be featured on ‘Jobs That Bite with Jeremy Brandt.’ Hmmm…

To your point, Lindsay — these animals were also featured on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. But surely not the same exact animals. Remember, there are only so many species on the planet, and I can’t really fault National Geographic or Half-Yard Productions or Jeremy Brandt for seeking out those creatures that make the best television. Besides — I’m sure they did so in a way that reflected a tenor and tone unique to their specific program. But to suggest — as you have — that they would revisit the ‘exact same locations’ and reshoot the ‘exact same scenes’ with the ‘exact same animals’ and the ‘exact same people present,’ well – that’s another issue altogether, and one that I simply can’t take on faith. I would have to see it to believe it.

PPPPPPS. Alrighty then. I have just seen a video of Jeremy watching two camels having sex on National Geographic. http://on.aol.com/video/jobs-that-bite—when-camels-mate-518002658

And I’ve just compared it to a video of me watching the same two camels having sex on the Discovery Channel five years earlier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LJzBqnRy1Y

Obviously, both scenes were filmed in Ramona, Calif., at the Oasis Camel Dairy. My old friends Gil and Nancy Riegler are on hand in both versions, as are the same two camels — Goldie and Storm.

I must confess, I am gratified to learn that Gordie and Storm are still going strong, but I was frankly surprised to see them fornicating on the National Geographic Channel. I would have thought the producers would have insisted on new pair of Dromedaries, or at the very least, a new position, especially since Dirty Jobs has so clearly dominated the camel-humping space. I suppose that camels are limited in the ways they can copulate, but it would have been refreshing to see something a bit spicier in this particular sequence. Something less … predictable. In any event, the two scenes — while admittedly similar — are far from identical. Even though the camels continue to hump in the traditional way, and even though Jeremy has apparently added a ball cap to his wardrobe, I would like to point out that it is NOT the SAME cap that I was wearing on the day I was there. I appreciate that. Thanks, Jeremy.

PPPPPPPS. Upon further reflection, Lindsay, I can see how — at a glance — the casual viewer might conclude that Jobs That Bite on Nat Geo is mildly derivative of Jobs That Bite on Discovery. Personally, I do not. However — I did do another special for Discovery after Jobs That Bite, called Jobs That Bite…Harder. It’s true, you can look it up. http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Jobs-That-Bite-Harder/dp/B00CPU1HSM

Now — let me be absolutely clear. If The National Geographic Channel were to follow ‘Jobs That Bite’ with another show called ‘Jobs That Bite…Harder,’ well, I might have something to say about that. But seriously — I can’t imagine such a thing coming to pass. No way.

So let’s get past all these petty complaints, and join me in wishing Jeremy Brandt, Half-Yard Productions, and everyone at National Geographic every possible success with their brand-new show. According to their site, it’s on this Wednesday.”

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about the writer

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.