While to date, the Discovery Channel network executives have not issued a public statement about the cancellation of "Dirty Jobs," host Mike Rowe recently broke the news on his personal blog. Fans of the show, which survived eight seasons, are wondering why one of Discovery's flagship shows is going down the drain, but looking at the network's current programming, the answer is simple. "Dirty Jobs" may have plenty of entertainment value, but it lacks drama.
On a typical episode of "Dirty Jobs," Rowe takes a temporary position as an employee in a thankless, difficult, and often disgusting job. From inseminating horses to transplanting giant cacti, he's taken on each challenge with good-natured warmth and a stream of self-deprecating jokes.
The success of the show has been due, in large part, to Rowe's essential likability. By entering the sewers and pig troughs with a camera crew in tow, he's helped to humanize the many thankless American jobs. He ends each episode with newfound appreciation for the difficulties of the tasks he's performed and glowing accolades for those who perform them daily.
Unfortunately for him, reality TV has moved beyond such feel-good programming.
"Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice" follows under-the-sea miners as they dredge for gold, and "Yukon Men" features Alaskan residents battling a harsh winter. Both series are likely to focus, not just on difficult jobs, but also on personal stories.
In addition to the "Gold Rush"-inspired additions, the heavily promoted new series "Amish Mafia" promises insights into a secret subculture of intimidation within the Amish community of Lancaster, Penn. This series follows a trend of shows about America's unique religious communities, such as TLC's "Breaking Amish" and NatGeo's "American Colony: Meet the Hutterites."
Looking at a different type of subculture, "Moonshiners" is in its second season, giving viewers a look at backwoods brewers of illegal hooch.
Arguably, two of the most educational shows that survive on the network are "MythBusters" and "Auction Kings." With a wry sense of humor -- and plenty of explosions -- the "MythBusters" gang tries to prove or disprove urban and movie myths. "Auction Kings" is one of many shows that provides an inside look at a pawn shop, along the way providing nuggets of information about historical items and collectibles. "Auction Kings" may not provide the adventure of a man-vs-nature show like "Gold Rush," but it does provide the same excitement of possible sudden riches. And of course, it's hard to deny that "MythBusters" makes science pretty exciting. Who knew there were so many ways to blow something up?
Alongside these exciting reality shows, Discovery's schedule is packed with extreme nature and science shows, such as a recent special called "Zombie Apocalypse," which interviews scientists about the probability of a real zombie plague. Then, of course, there's the annual "Shark Week," which has become appointment television for millions of Americans looking for toothy thrills.
Five years ago, no one would have imagined that viewers would one day tire of Rowe getting himself into weirder and wilder workplace messes. But even though his adventures have often been dangerous -- and have sometimes involved explosions -- it's apparently not enough to survive in the current dog-eat-dog world of Discovery's line-up.