Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'll Have The Special

We’ve all had a job that, in a word, sucked. Mopping floors, flipping burgers, working as a register biscuit at Wal Mart, asking “do you want fries with that?” These jobs, or so we were lead to believe by our parents, elders, and Calvin’s dad, were there to build our character and teach us some responsibility. I don’t know about you, but deep frying potatoes and squirting the secret sauce onto an unappetizing looking disk of dough never seemed like a Zen experience for me, but I never knew how lucky I was. And now, with the recent surge in reality television, I can experience someone else’s misery at my own pleasure and be thankful that my job could be much, much worse. Welcome to Dirty Jobs, the Discovery Channel’s way of showing the jobs that really do suck.

What makes the show so impressive is not necessarily the content, but the way American audiences have grasped it and raised it to the top of the Discovery Channel’s charts. We all know audiences occasionally like to see real reality, as the History Channel and the Discovery Channel have managed to stay on the air for so long with competition like American Idol and every other terrible reality show out there. Where the networks show us soon-to-be-pop stars before they become soon-to-be-coked out groupie shagging pop stars, Dirty Jobs shows us life through the eyes of a worker with a job you don’t want in an industry you may not have known existed. This is what separates reality from “reality”.

Have you ever wondered what happens to road kill as you whiz by it on the highway? Dirty Jobs, and its host Mike Rowe show us the brave men and women who get to answer that question. Ever wanted to be a catfish noodler and just didn’t know where to begin your career? Ever even heard of a catfish noodler? Dirty Jobs shows the unaware just what a catfish noodler does, and is a good jumping off point for soon-to-be catfish noodlers. Oh, and in case you are wondering just what a catfish noodler does, here’s a brief job description taken from the Discovery Channel’s website:

Catfish Noodler: In search of people who can catch potentially 100-pound catfish with their hands only. Must not mind sticking limbs in holes in search of game and getting bitten as a result.
Before you decide to scream at your career counselor for not informing you of the potential benefits that await future Avian Vomitologists (I’m not kidding, this is a person who spends their days collecting owl vomit), you may want to catch the show and see exactly what it is these people do. While the perks of the job are jokingly poked at, the episodes mainly focus on the dirty side of the jobs. Where as the resume and job postings are the employment glass as half full, Dirty Jobs shows the half empty side of it, and I believe that this is what appeals to the audience. We are force fed reality TV that we know is not real. With Dirty Jobs, we get to see the action, in all its glory (or ugliness) and how these people really do jobs that would make most of us decide to skip lunch.

Gross out television has always been successful, even if only because these sights and sounds so rarely visit our lives. We never get to see the termite collector in action; we just assume he does his job. Well now we can see how a skull cleaner cleans skulls, and what exactly it is that a sausage maker puts in sausage (I would advise discretion for fans of sausage on this one). Dirty Jobs is a very interesting show to watch, but I stress that it is not for the weak of stomach. If you don’t mind seeing things that would make others vomit (including yours truly) then check it out on the Discovery Channel on Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Will I ever forget to remember

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