Jennifer Katz, director of Shooting the Moon and 101 Ways (The Things a Girl Will Do to Keep Her Volvo), is a filmmaker who on Flush TV investigates one of the most under appreciated occupations – plumbing. The show explores Detroit’s Levine and Sons Plumbing Company’s passion for pipes.
After visiting her friend Dan Levine and hearing old stories about the nearly eighty-year-old company, Katz picked up a camera and began filming. She spent a few years developing the project and eventually took it to several cable television networks that ultimately passed on the idea. Produced by A Lot of People, on April 6, 2006, Flush TV made a splash on the web with its debut six-minute episode, It Ain’t Easy Being a Plumber.
After reading about Flush TV and “eight inch fecal impactions, raw sewage backed up in the tub, and a 98% customer resentment rate,” I was expecting something along the lines of a campy, slightly twisted, raunchy film similar to the style of George and Mike Kuchar. To my surprise, the show was clean, entertaining, and enlightening. If you like the TV show Dirty Jobs, you’ll love Flush TV.
The episodes generally run five to seven minutes long and document the daily grind of Levine and Sons, giving you a great sense of the challenges faced by the industry pros. In The Highs and Lows (of the Water Jetter), a key tool of the trade gets stuck on the job. Plumber Not Included takes the viewer on the road to Peaks Island, Maine and shows how locals deal with a lack of plumbing professionals in their city.
At times, there are some rough patches in the sound and video quality of the production, but this is expected for a documentary style series and the unique perspective and vibrant personalities that Katz captures more than make up for it. She brings the viewer into an interesting space that most people would not ordinarily want to step into (literally and figuratively), but once you take a look inside, not only do you not mind, you become intrigued.
My favorite piece…well, it’s a two-way tie between Plumbing Junkie, which chronicles one man’s enthusiasm for what is considered by many to be one of the stinkiest professions, and What Not to Flush (Five Lessons to Live By) where the plumbers vent about two-ply, feminine hygiene, and other plumbing blunders.