Six Degrees with Mike Rowe is streaming now on Discovery +.

By Rebecca Angel Baer
January 27, 2021
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Calling all fans of Dirty Jobs! Discovery and Mike Rowe have a brand-new offering and you won't want to miss it. The beloved television host and former Baltimore Opera baritone turns history on its head in Six Degrees with Mike Rowe, a new nonfiction series currently streaming on Discovery +.

Before you bemoan that you don't have that yet or refuse to get another streaming service, hear us out. Watch one episode and we bet you will be hooked and agree it's well worth the $4.99 a month. Six Degrees is unlike anything we've ever seen and can best be described as an episode of Drunk History meets a Mike Rowe super fan fever dream meets high school history class. When Rowe spoke to Southern Living last week, he agreed. "I love that," he said with a hearty chuckle and then described his inspiration. "I stole this from a guy named James Burke, who I think did the most important history show ever. It was called Connections." In Six Degrees, much like Burke did in Connections, Rowe takes the viewers on a journey from one historical event to another, seemingly totally unconnected occurrence and finds the thread that links them. For example, would you imagine that a horseshoe could help you find your soul mate? Or that a mousetrap could cure your hangover?

"I always like the idea of an inter-disciplinary look at history, technology, science, and the surprising ways we're all connected. But I'm not nearly smart enough to pull off that level of eruditeness so I just reduced his idea to a parlor game. It's Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and the challenge now is to connect to seemingly disparate points and I still walk through time like James Burk, but I also have access to any other production device that might fit my budget," Rowe explained. But we aren't talking Jurassic Park level of CGI. In typical Rowe tongue and cheek fashion, he calls upon the use of purposefully goofy-looking puppets, overly dramatic recreations from community theater actors, and his old friend Chuck stealing the spotlight. With the help of some rather hilarious wigs, Chuck plays just about every important historical character in the six-episode series. You will both laugh and learn, and you'll probably like it.

Each episode contains a history lesson but it's done with Rowe's trademark wit and charm, and a behind the curtain look at the whole production, as is common with all of the shows that bear his name from Dirty Jobs to Returning the Favor to Somebody's Gotta Do it. Rowe's approachable manner of delivery for infotainment is unparalleled by any other and that is precisely why we are raving about a history program. He reflected on discussing this concept with one of his bosses at Discovery and shared, "{He} said 'Mike, if you can do a history show for people who don't watch history shows, then you're set.'"

But Rowe has also reflected about how this project is personal for him.

"Dirty Jobs was a love letter to my grandfather, skilled laborer who could build a house without a blueprint. This show really was for my dad. He taught history for 30 years to junior high school kids. And he told me when I was a boy, 'look, my job is not really to educate, inform, or club my students over the head with the facts. My job is to make them give a damn about things they didn't realize they cared about.'" He went on to say, "that was always in the back of my head. James Burke, my dad, and the idea of a history show for people who don't watch history shows. And that's what Six Degrees is."

All six episodes of Six Degrees is streaming now. Go ahead, give it a go. We promise you'll learn something new.