Wednesday 2 May 2012

Devouring TV: Hoarders

My future hoarding endeavours. From an episode of Hoarders I haven't even seen yet, so now I must!

Guys, I'm iiiiilll (imagine I just whined that at you. You're imagining you want to punch me in the face now, aren't you?) I think as we're all aware, the only thing you can do when you're ill is lay weakly in bed, possibly with a not too challenging book (hello Mindy Kaling, you little life saver) and definitely with some kind of crappy internet tv to watch. I mean, I'm not saying that's not what I do EVERY DAY, but it's like compulsory when you're ill.

Enter, Hoarders. Have you seen Hoarders? It's basically a programme where people with a really complex mental illness are paraded in front of tv cameras and made to throw away loads of the crap that they cherish for whatever reason. These people literally have the most wretched lives, and there's always a back story as to why they have to get rid of their stuff (my favourite examples: because otherwise your kids won't be returned to your custody, because you'll go to jail) and yet they're still physically unable to get rid of any of the hundreds of t shirts they own because, and here's a common thing 'one day they might come in handy.' So, their quality of life has gone out of the window while they hold onto all the things they might possibly need for their entire lifetimes.

Obviously what I'm saying here is that it's the greatest show ever. I mean, I've got three seasons of 30 Rock to watch on DVD, and yet I'm choosing Hoarders? Either I'm crazy, or Hoarders is amazing (note: the former is definitely more true. Seriously.)

Hoarders has got me to thinking about my own habits, anyway. I think that, to be honest, someone who lives in a bigger house than my own might come into our house and think that there's maybe someone here who has a tiny hoarding problem. I mean, nothing on the scale of what's on TV, but we have four adults living in a two bedroom house, so naturally there's some overspill, since, like, there's a limit to how many cupboards and shit that we have, but we've got nothing on like anyone who's appeared on Hoarders ever. And as for myself, I actually love throwing things away. I mean, apart from books and DVDs (if you want to talk about being a book hoarder, I'm definitely one of them, but at least I have them for a reason...) I can and often do just get rid of things that I see as kind of superfluous. Or, in other words, I don't really have that many attachments to objects (other than books) and I don't really think that anything is irreplaceable. But that's probably because I'm poor.

Since I'm so good at getting rid of things, and organising the things I do have (I've got A LOT of the things I own under my bed, and once I get rid of the like 10 cushions that are under there I'll have even more room, which nerdishly excites me) I've naturally decided that my career path should be that of a professional organiser. It honestly seems like the perfect job to me: going into other people's houses and putting their things in order and organising like systems for them? It actually sounds amazing. It would obviously get less amazing the more hoardery the client gets, but consider just organising the home of a messy person: bliss! And I'm not even a tidy person! I just, I like everything to have its place, but I don't necessarily always put it there- but knowing that everything does have a home is very pleasing to me. Yeah, I'm weird... But leave me alone cause I'm iiiill!

Anyway. I have found myself getting pretty irritated at the people on Hoarders, because they have homes of their own that they have basically destroyed/that they're not enjoying at all. When you still live with your parents, it's difficult not to think of them as ungrateful for all they have when, if I had my own little house I'd make it so nice! But it's not their fault that I don't have a house, and it's not their fault that this is the way they live- it's literally like they've replaced people with things, and then they start confusing the things with people. Like, I can't get rid of those clothes, they're a part of me. Or, I can't get rid of my junk in the backyard because it keeps me company while I'm here taking care of my alcoholic husband and schizophrenic daughter (an actual Hoarders episode. AND her eldest daughter had breast cancer, so by the end I was pretty much like 'Jesus, if it makes her happy, just let her keep it!') Anyway, they're all very sad situations, and I'd hate to have any of their lives, and yet, in TV terms, it's pure gold. It really is.

Starting next week, the BBC is showing a series on Hoarders in the UK (hopefully it's got a better title than that, I can't remember it right now...) which I expect to be maybe less extreme than the American version, but probably just as depressing. It will be better than the American version in at least one way though- cause, well, why do they do that thing where they repeat every five minutes what the situation is? Is it because no one in the US has a short term memory, or because they're trying to amp up dramatic tension? OR is it because your brains are fried by the constant adverts (seriously, so annoying) that you can barely remember your own names let alone what's happening in Hoarders? Either way (or none of the above, and reality TV is just shitty) there aren't any adverts on the BBC, so constant repeating of the same information shouldn't be necessary. Or so I hope...

Note: I've investigated further, and actually Channel 4 has the series on Hoarders, whereas the BBC thing is a one off documentary. But either way, that makes TWO programmes about hoarders. YES! 


  1. Yay Hoarders! I know it's awful that they're parading people with serious problems on TV. And most of the Hoarders don't actually want to be on TV but they're at that "no choice" point and they have to do something about the mess and I'm sure the show is paying for all those people to come in and help. But I can't help it, I love the show.

    I do find myself getting irritated with the people on the show for ruining their homes when so many people don't have homes. There are a couple cases where the hoarder was actually living in a homeless shelter cos they filled their homes and I wondered if the homeless people there hated them. What an awkward conversation. "Oh well I actually have a home. And lots of stuff. So much stuff in fact that I can't live in my home. So scoot over will you so we can share this homeless shelter bench."

    I bet the UK version will be better. The US versions of shows are so sensationalized. At least for the few I've seen both versions, like Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares.

    Did you see the bunny hoarding episode??

  2. I love you for loving Hoarders, Red! And I love your comment! Lets see:

    I hadn't even thought about the whole fact that they don't even want to be on tv, but they need the help (naively, I'll admit, because DUH!) But still... I'm watching it, I can't help it! I also love programmes with really really really fat people in, so... Yeah. I'm a classy lady!

    I can't even deal with that homeless thing. That's like... UGH. I do get extra annoyed at the ones who own extra houses, because 1. How is that ever going to be a good idea for a hoarder?, and 2. SOMEONE COULD BE LIVING THERE. Damn! But, again, it's not their fault! So I guess we have to be a little bit sort of tolerant.

    OMG, the US kitchen nightmares is a joke! So awful and like staged! There also seems to be a lot more like staged drama in the US Wife Swap, but I do prefer that one, just because it's such a varied country that they can find families that are really really really different, and that just makes for awesome tv (eg a Manhattan millionairess who literally didn't do anything had to go to rural Pennysylvania and like work AND look after kids. Amazing.) The US Supernanny is about the only thing I've seen that's basically the same, but even that seems to have a lot more repetition and stuff than the UK one. Honestly, I can't watch TV in America (those, like, 8 or 9 days of my life I've spent there...) cause ARGH adverts! Seriously!

    Anyway, clearly I watch a lot of shite tv! And I haven't seen the bunny hoarding episode, but I want to so badly! The site I found the episodes on only has seasons 1,4 and 5, so if it's in one of those then I'll get to see it, and if not then I'll be really sad! I did see one where this woman had so many cats that she didn't know how many she had, and they kept finding cat and kitten skeletons, which was a bit of a downer... :(

    1. Isn't US Kitchen Nightmares pathetic? And so overblown. And dumb. I still watch it, so you win Fox.

      It looks like the bunny episode is from season 3 (why yes I did look it up) so damn that site! It looks like there are some quick clips from the episode on YouTube but not the full thing. I did see that one with the cat and all the dead kittens. At least I think I'm thinking of the same episode. Isn't that sad? There are so many "dead kitten" episodes I can only guess I saw the same one you did.

    2. It's so awful! Especially once you've seen the UK one, which is fine and like a bit shouty but way less DRAMATIC (in the bad way). Also, I didn't know it was on Fox, but now I do that makes so much sense!

      Argh! I will definitely try to hunt down the bunny episode because, come on, bunnies! I'm sure it's somewhere on the internet, so I'll just have to be persistent :). Also, not more dead kittens :(. I was really really really sad after the dead kitten one I watched, but I did feel totally sorry for the hoarder lady too because she definitely was like devastated about it all, so just :( for everyone really!

  3. I love how they put loads of OTT dramatic music into US versions of shows!What is that about? Why do they constantly recap stuff though? SO ANNOYING. Is it because they're actually making tv for goldfish? or because they think their audience are morons?

  4. They probably do assume their audience is morons. Which is unfair because I'm sure someone who is university educated can really enjoy like Hoarders because it's an interesting look at a certain cross section of society. Also cause it's gross!

  5. Omg Hoarders. So great. But I'm sorry you're sick. But SO GREAT. I watch it whenever I need to clean.

    "This could be you, Alice."

    What an awesome show. And you should totally become a professional organizer. People like me need people like you.

    1. Dude, I would organise the CRAP out of your room/apartment/whatever. Just watch me go! I actually use Hoarders to make me feel better about myself, like how I watch super fat people programmes "it could be worse, Laura, you could have as much crap as those people. And you could be so fat that a wall has to be taken away for you to get out of your house." (totally happened to someone)

      This is probably very unhealthy. Also, there's this british programme that I don't know if you get called How Clean is Your House, and I use *that* to tell myself that I don't need to clean because my house isn't as dirty as the disgusting people's. Because I'm a moron.

  6. "I'll have even more room, which nerdishly excites me" - I'm like that as well! I think of something to throw out, I'm questioned, and I'm like "But we'll have MORE! ROOOM!" [said with great awe] "More room for what?" "STUFF!". I love stuff.

    And get well soon :)

    1. Right! But it's so good though, and it's not like you ever need to keep an empty space empty, so it's just like, now I can get something new and put it there! Sadly I have things just like hanging around all ready to go where the cushions are, and I can't be bothered to sew at the moment, so no new stuff for me to put there at all :(. But in general when that happens :D

  7. There's also "Hoarding: Buried Alive" on TLC that I watch whenever I run out of Hoarders!

  8. Laura!!!!
    I'm ill too! I have a sore throat and feel like I have to clear my throat every ten seconds. It's awful!
    On the subject of hoarders, I cannot watch that show ever. It gives me such anxiety. It makes me want to obsessively clean. Plus, I keep a box of letters and cards, and my book obsession. I'm convinced that I have the potential to be a hoarder.

  9. I don't watch much reality tv, but there was a time I really enjoyed watching America's Next Top Model. And I was also annoyed at the constant recapping which seems endemic to reality tv shows. I think the philosophy must be to make it easy for the channel surfers, who just popped into the show halfway through. Which is unfair for the people who watched it from the beginning and don't need the recap.