Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe On How His Shows Always Put Essential Workers In The Spotlight

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Mike Rowe has done a lot of good work showing us just how many people work at jobs which are essential to many of our lives without us even knowing it. The former host of Discovery Channel's hit Dirty Jobs, has been leading the way on the Facebook Watch series Returning the Favor since August 2017, but now he's seeing much more appreciation from the general public for the people his shows have put the spotlight on over the years, and Rowe believes it's because the world has finally caught up to how important those essential jobs are.

Even though Mike Rowe has moved on from the Dirty Jobs era of his career, he's still showcasing essential workers like bicycle cops, corrections officers, chefs and cowboys (Yes. Cowboys!), and giving something back to them for going the extra mile to give back to their communities along with doing their very necessary day jobs. Rowe recently spoke with Fox News, and talked about how national attitudes have changed with regards to the workers he spotlights in his shows, saying:

I did that on Dirty Jobs for 15 years. That was my [job], to the extent that I had a job, it’s to tap the country on the shoulder every so often and say, ‘Hey! What about him? What about her?’ I’m doing that now with Returning the Favor, but it’s a completely different rubric, right? We’re in a totally different world. I used to have to shake people by the lapels to get them to pay attention to the fact that somewhere, out of sight, out of mind, a guy whose name you don’t know, you can’t find on a map, is doing something to make your life better. Now, everybody gets it.

I think we all truly realize by now that Mike Rowe is right when he says that there are lots of people we never thought about working at gigs which make our lives a lot easier and better. There are the people who are still leaving their homes right now to make sure we have our trash picked up, still have access to clean, running water and electricity. There are cleaning crews doing deep cleans on essential workplaces, and grocery store workers standing behind plexiglass to make sure we can get mac-n-cheese, milk and chocolate when we run out.

As Rowe said in his interview, it's a sad fact that desperate, weird times like these can be what it takes for people to really understand how many people are holding us up and keeping our creature comforts going, even if those comforts are coming along slower than they used to. But, hopefully, this realization will mean that we're less likely to take these workers for granted again. Rowe has absolutely seen a change in public awareness about these essential jobs, and added:

The headlines have caught up to the themes of my little shows, including Returning the Favor, which is on Facebook. And honest to God, Steve, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s been on for four years. . . . We’ve had 15 million people watch this thing. We’re absolutely overwhelmed with letters, enthusiasm, and questions about, ‘What can we do in our town?’

You can watch Returning the Favor on Facebook Watch, and Dirty Jobs can still be streamed via a variety of platforms. For more on what to watch in the coming weeks, check out our Netflix premiere guide and see which TV finales are coming up soon!

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.