I'm hopelessly addicted to Hoarders -- the A&E version, not the TLC version. (For some reason I don't find Hoarders: Buried Alive quite as enthralling as the original Hoarders.)
I started watching this show last year out of morbid fascination, and now I'm hooked. Embarrassingly enough, I spent yesterday anticipating the two back to back season premiere episodes which aired last night. They did not disappoint. The first episode included Adella and Teri. Adella was a horribly crotchety old woman who actually went out dumpster diving while the clean up crew was at her house. She had no working bathroom and her kids hated her. And then there was Teri, a nurse, who almost had CPS called because her children had no beds, no access to the refrigerator, and had to climb over piles of crap to get around the house. The second episode featured Gordon and Gaye and their two adult children (ages 38 and 39), all of whom contributed to the squalor, since these two grown adult kids never moved out of their parents' home. They, too, had no working bathroom, and after their house was cleaned up, it was condemned, so they had to move out anyway. Gordon was immensely pissed off about this. The other story in the second episode was this crazy guy named Sir Patrick who had a house packed to the brim with dolls and various other glass collectibles. At least his house was kind of interesting looking, and wasn't packed to the brim with garbage. Even better is that he drove around with a life sized female doll in the passenger seat of his car.
It's impossible to even explain the horror of this show in words. You have to see the camera pan across the rooms of the house. Every room. The kitchens and bathrooms are generally filthy (years worth of grime filthy, not just oh, I haven't cleaned the toilet in a couple of weeks filthy), and often do not even work. People live without working bathrooms and no water service! Piles and piles of stuff (clothing, toys, books, etc.), including garbage (pizza boxes, empty pop bottles, dirty diapers, dead cats, animal feces, bugs, etc.), is everywhere in the other rooms. Everywhere. Stacked three feet to ceiling level high. The refrigerator is a biohazard. Generally there are tiny paths leading from room to room, although most rooms are completely unusable. One woman from last season had a hole in the side of her house where her goats had chewed through the wall, which ruined her electrical, so she had no heat. Generally the hoarder also has no usable furniture, although there will sometimes be a single dirty chair, bed or futon strategically placed for television viewing. All home activities tend to occur on this single piece of furniture, from eating to television watching, to Internet surfing. (Highly depressing when there are children involved.) One woman slept sitting up in the kitchen in a toilet chair. She fell off it during the night once and got trapped in her hoard. (Oh, yes.)
It is bizarre. I get caught up in bizarre things like this that I do not undertstand. How does something like this even begin? I'm guilty of not doing my dishes for a few days, or stacking up my clothes on a chair in my bedroom during the week, maybe letting scrubbing the tub go a little too long, or even setting a few empty bottles near the front door here and there until I can take them out to the recycling bin, but I can't fathom the complete level of neglect and laziness that has to occur to simply just let it start piling up. What was the item that started it all, the piece de resistance that led the hoarder to simply say: "I'm not picking that up from the middle of the living room floor. It will stay there." And then, to continue to come in and keep stacking things up over and over again and refusing to simply take out the trash until your house is unusable as a house? Wow. I mean, clearly there are mental issues going on here. There have to be, because the homes are so vile it's impossible to imagine anyone living in them until you actually see the people on the television talking about their home and refusing to throw away a Big Gulp cup because they "can use that for something."
I could almost understand if there were actual collections of things that began to overrun the house. Some of the hoarders featured on the show have had these (there was a beer can guy and an animal shaped purse lady), but the things they collect end up buried under actual garbage. (At least Sir Patrick had his all nicely arranged throughout his house.) Garbage! Those are the houses that are the most disturbing. Piles and piles of garbage everywhere. Rotting vegetables. Animal feces. Used kitty litter. Spoiled food. Empty fast food containers. Dead cats. Dead rats. You name it. Garbage. In the house. And not in a trash can. It is so beyond disgusting that I have to look away from the television, but just as quickly I'm drawn back to it. Can you imagine the smell? One time, one of the professional organizers (who deals with this stuff on a regular basis) had to run out of this woman Jill's house to throw up due to the stench. And she's living in it!
A&E disappointed me last night because their previews for the new season were incredibly misleading. They kept showing an opposum (!!!) frantically running over a stack of crap inside someone's house, and one of the doctors who is on the show to help the hoarder (who strangely enough looks exactly like Tonya Harding) has a talking head where she says "This is the worst I've ever seen." (!!!) Here is a woman who deals with hoarders for a living, who has probably seen it all, saying "This is the worst." Oh my God. This preview was part of the reason for my intense anticipation for last night. Yet apparently A&E pulled a big old bait and switch. This "worst" house is next week. And let me tell you something, I had a nightmare last night based solely on the preview where they actually showed the interior of this house. It appears to be worse than one lady from last season, who had a bathroom stuffed to the brim with over a year's worth of used Depends.
I cannot wait for next week.