Mike Rowe’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” on CNN is a breath of fresh air in today’s TV climate. In the midst of all the “Real Housewives of Who Cares” and the never ending processional of superhero money grabbing Rowe has crafted a show that not only brings us interesting stories of interesting people; he also gives us a glimpse into the love of craftspeople who absolutely love what they do.
“Somebody’s Gotta Do It” is the spiritual successor to “Dirty Jobs” and continues to preach the virtues of manual labor and hard work. In “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” Rowe has expanded his scope from jobs that are dirty or gross, to jobs that are done by people who love them. In doing this, he’s opened up his show to a much wider world of jobs and personalities that he can profile. His own personality lends itself to this type of show; it’s intensely fun to watch, time-erodingly interesting, and actually instructive. He displays a genuine and respectful attitude towards those he’s meeting coupled with an unassuming manner as he tries to follow along; and it’s a delight to watch. His ability to ask the right questions and occasionally poke fun at the methods or terminology of whatever he’s doing just adds to the charm. The fact that he sometimes struggles to do the work just promotes the theme of the show that these are, indeed, craftsmen and women who work hard to perfect their trade. I think a small part of the reason for Rowe’s magnetism is his White Collar vocabulary and his Blue Collar attitude. He is extremely relatable and in no way put off by whatever job he’s doing or watching, but his sense of humor and word usage is clearly that of someone who studied professional communications in college and who talks for a living.
I’ve been a fan of Mike Rowe for a long time, from his show “Dirty Jobs” to his narration of “Deadliest Catch,” (yah that’s right, I’m literally a fan of his narration) to starting a foundation to showcase great careers that can be acquired without a college degree… there’s a lot to love about the guy. He is a champion of the American Worker and aligns himself with shows that spotlight these workers. What I appreciate most about Mike Rowe’s efforts is that I believe the reason he is doing all of this because of the values he was taught growing up. As a young boy he saw both his Grandfather and Father work a trade (like, with their hands and stuff). His awe and respect for his Father and Grandfather carries over into all his television shows as he chronicles the work of people that just get it done (Roll Tide/Go Dawgs). Their jobs aren’t glorious and they often aren’t easy, but they do them and they do them well; at the core, that is what he attempts to showcase. As the costs of college continues to draw closer to that of a small aircraft carrier Mike Rowe’s advice to find a trade instead of going to college makes more sense now than ever. The current generation thinks that going to college is a surefire way of having a career and a happy life; achieving goals like playing golf, baking pies and living inside of a Coca-Cola ad from 1954, but unfortunately that is not always the case, even for those who earnestly seek employment. Mike Rowe’s own organization, “Mike Rowe Works,” is an organization that promotes tradesmen and women. The organization offers Scholarships to men and women who want to go to school to learn a trade. Looking at his career choices it’s plain to see that they are all inspired by his wish to promote the jobs that for some reason, people don’t want to do. From an early age, he realized, that he wanted to be in “show business”, he recollects that for his Eagle Scout Project, he read aloud books for blind students at a local school and realized that he wanted to get into TV for a living. He started out his career working at QVC as an on-air host selling their products. Oddly enough that didn’t work out and he drifted around lending his voice to many different projects until landing a great gig at the Discovery Channel. At Discovery, he hosted the show “Dirty Jobs” and narrated several shows. After 8 seasons of Dirty Jobs Rowe seems to have run out of Dirty Jobs to showcase, but he didn’t let that stop him; that’s where “Somebody’s Gotta Do It comes in.”
From the very beginning of this new season you can see that Rowe is still passionate about broadcasting the stories of hardworking people out to the rest country. In the first episode, Rowe opens strong with a looking into the world of “Bullfighting.” But it probably isn’t the bullfighting that you’re thinking of, he follows around and does his best to emulate the men who put their lives on the line to protect Bull riders in the PBR championship. Rowe’s ability to debase himself while at the same time being instructive and respectful really shines in this episode. At one point he even shuts a gate used for herding cattle on his hand and rips off a fingernail. He gets absolutely zero sympathy from the guys around him. It’s those moments when the bravado fades away and you see how tough and knowledgeable his guests can be that you can really appreciate his mastery of telling stories. Oddly enough, his partnership with CNN is doing really well, even though he tends to walk the middle of the road and they tend to lean left, both parties seem to want this to work. It’s been an interesting foray in the world of serial documentaries for CNN with Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown and “Kitchen Confidential.” Though they aren’t raking in the kind of ratings being witnessed from Fox or CBS it has been a fun gamble from the news network that appears (for now) to be working.
“Somebody’s Gotta Do It” airs Thursday nights at 9. I highly recommend you tune in or DVR it and give it a watch. I guarantee that you’ll be entertained and maybe even unexpectedly learn something. At the very least, you’ll forget about all the problems in the world, for just a little bit and enjoy watching Mike Rowe do his thing.