Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is it hoarding if you compusively hoard shows about hoarding?

I was going to steal a picture of a hoarder's home off the Internet and post it here, but I felt too guilty. If you don't know what hoarding is or what it looks like, then feel free to look it up. Or feel free to walk away. I might suggest the latter...

So, the backstory, much of which has already been stated here: I recently quit my job, moved to a new area and commenced a job hunt. I knew that, given the economy, the job hunt would take some time, and prior experience had taught me that I do not do well when all I do all day is sit around and think about finding jobs. So I put myself on a regimented schedule where I work on the job hunt, arts, crafts, writing, cleaning, exploring the new area and improving my health--all during specified hours of the day. Indeed, despite the fact that I am unemployed, I am working about ten hours a day and I have eaten more home-cooked meals and put in more gym time than I have in years. The apartment is pretty spotless. I love where I live. In all, things are pretty great.

At the end of the day, and only then, I let myself wind down with a little TV (sometimes I will also have it on in my office as background while I'm working on projects, but I don't like soaps or talk shows or commercials for vocational institutions, so I usually end up turning it off). Sometimes I have DVR'ed stuff I want to watch, but sometimes I'm left to my own devices and 200 channels to fill the void. My go-to during such occasions was usually to find whatever channel was running a Law & Order marathon for the night, but I actually got kind of burnt out on it. And then, one day, while exploring what was available on my free "On Demand" television listings, I came across a program about compulsive hoarders. Having once seen a show that just featured a single hoarder and finding it fascinating, I was immediately hooked.

If you didn't know, hoarding shows are all the rage these days. A&E has Hoarders. One of the lesser Discovery Network channels had a show called Hoarding: Buried Alive, which appears to have been revamped for airing on the more popular TLC. For the most part, all follow a couple of hoarders each episode as they try to tackle their problem. Sometimes it does not seem like they are trying very hard. In fact, for the most part, it is one argument after another between hoarder and therapist or hoarder and hoarder's family member about throwing away a single item, which is probably some half-melted Happy Meal toy from 2002, while mountains of similar items awaiting similar arguments sit menacingly in the background. On Hoarders, they send dump trucks to the home and actually clean it out quite a bit. On Buried Alive, the therapist works slowly with the hoarder one room or area at a time, so when they give you a "one month later" update at the end of the show, the house is not clean, but the hoarder is proudly pointing to a new walking path and saying "Look, I can walk into the kitchen now without having to take those dangerous stairs I built out of discarded Igloo coolers to climb over my stuff! I am on the road to recovery!"

These hoarding shows are about 20,000 times more shocking and depressing than any of the murders or sex crimes regularly featured on the Law & Orders, and yet I cannot stop watching them. Like, I get really excited when I know I have a new one sitting on the DVR waiting for me to watch it. WHY? Is it just the usual can't take your eyes off the train wreck syndrome? And if not, what is WRONG with me?

Perhaps I'd be better off if all I did was stress about the job hunt all day...


  1. In answer to your original question ...

    Ummmm .... maybe.

  2. i too am obsessed with hoarders. i just feel like an amazing housekeeper even with 20 loads of laundry sitting on the couch waiting to be folded and dirty dishes in the sink. i just think, at least i'm not sitting around in a snuggie surrounded by soiled adult diapers.


  3. I've never seen a hoarder show... but I know I'd be hooked too.

  4. WOW! I actually found and started DVRing these shows last night! You're so right... they *barely* "clean" anything up and think they've really started something lol. It was seriously crazy! Now I'm totally hooked haha.

    p.s. Me and a girlfriend are visiting San Fran in May... maybe we can meet up for lunch :)