The trend towards reality programming celebrating macho men and their jobs has led some to speculate that the genre is just about tapped out, citing A&E's Parking Wars as an example of something that never should have made it past the first pitch.
But no! A whole new batch of such shows are right around the corner, and I think you'll agree that there's plenty of life in the workplace reality arena yet.
This Ain't a Library: The world of pornography has changed dramatically since the rise of the Internet, but many Americans still prefer to get their smut from the traditional neighborhood store, sold to them by employees who know their name and are always glad they came. Morrie Lemaster has owned the House of Xcellence for 14 years and presides over a porn empire that covers a substantial portion of north-central Council Bluffs, Iowa. His colorful staff includes Jenny, a deceptively sweet-looking soccer mom who knows all the right recommendations for those bachelorette parties; Ryan, who took the job after leaving the farm thinking it might help him meet "the right girl"; and Hackworth, the world-weary janitor who seems to have a quip for every occasion. From teenage shoplifters to church buses that limp into the parking lot with flat tires to the occasional customer who just won't accept that there's no way the store can refund certain purchases once they've been used, there's never a dull moment at the House of Xcellence. Joey Fatone narrates.
Ink Stained Wretches: The life of the guy who delivers your morning paper is not nearly as sedate as you might imagine. It's a profession with as many surprises as you'll find in the day's headlines. Tommy Hart and George Bryson are neighbors in suburban Phoenix who teamed up three years ago to deliver the morning paper in a gleaming subdivision. Braving temperatures that can dip as low as 65 degrees, the men deal with crises ranging from a shortage of advertising inserts to sprinklers going off at inopportune times to middle-of-the-night joggers who like to use the whole road and refuse to wear white outfits. As they make their rounds, George and Tommy engage in carefree banter that can only call to mind the Travolta/Jackson scenes in Pulp Fiction, assuming those men had been anti-immigrant activists with gambling problems. You'll never look at the paper the same way again, assuming you still read one. Joey Fatone narrates.
Black, White, and Gray: The high school sports referee has been an object of folklore for decades: looked up to by men; lusted after by women. By day, Cal Gray works at a golf supply store in Charlotte. By night, he referees football, basketball, and soccer games in the most prestigious suburban league in the region. This lifestyle gives him ample opportunity to live in the fast lane and sample the temptations that await any referee in youth sports. Watch as Gray manufactures an excuse to avoid working a game he's already placed a bet on; see how he copes when a quarterback and a defensive end get in a vicious midfield scrap, and he realizes he's carrying on affairs with both of their mothers. How can this 48-year-old man keep up such a pace? "We're like the old fashioned gunslingers, but with whistles instead of firearms," says Gray. Nick Lachey narrates.
The Grass Is Greener: People in suburban Atlanta love their lawns almost as much as they love their NASCAR, but their busy lifestyles and really, really large waistlines give them little opportunity to take the mower out themselves. That's where Hubie Nelson and the Powertrim team come in. Their armada of massive mowers can tame an unruly lawn in as little as 15 minutes, but that's only if everything goes as planned. These aren't the best of times for Powertrim. With food and gas prices up, some people are actually mowing their own lawns again, or paying a local teenager rather than the Powertrim rates. Gas has also cut into the company's profit margin, causing Hubie to wonder if the ten new 1500 horsepower mowers purchased over the winter were really such a great idea. And of course, there are always the little annoyances of life on the job, many of which involve a family pet that couldn't get out of the way in time and will not eligible for an open casket funeral. But still, the prestige and the thrill of handling freshly mown grass is a lure for today's men in the same way it was for our parents and grandparents. The Grass Is Greener celebrates these intrepid heroes of the blade. Joey Fatone narrates the first half, while Nick Lachey narrates the second half from a script written by Drew Lachey.
Rack 'Em!: There's never a dull moment, or a dry one, after mealtime at the Cimmaron Ranch steak house in Jacksonville, Fla., because the critical last step still awaits: washing the dishes. Sure, the cooks, the waiters, the bartenders, the valets, the janitors, the busboys, the dumpster scavengers all play their critical parts, and all have had reality shows singing their praises. But the crucial role of the dishwasher in the American restaurant industry has yet to be fully appreciated. Rack 'Em! concerns the life and times of the men who clean up after the mess we make when we go out on the town. Five guys work the night shift (except on those nights when Marcus has his AA). The pilot episode deals with the hiring of wide-eyed rookie Mitchell, who has taken the job to get a little money for college. He will be thrown right into the fray on the busiest night of the week, Saturday, which has been known to drive previously sane men to attack the salad prep girls with a grease-laden spatula. Follow along with Mitchell as he learns the culture of the clipper crew from his older, more experienced, more paroled colleagues. Learn with him as he figures out which glasses go in which racks. Indulge with him as he tries marijuana for the first time. Marvel with him as Joey Fatone wanders into the kitchen to thank the staff for the cleanest steak knife he has ever seen. Rack 'Em: who says real men don't do dishes?