You notice it the minute you walk into my apartment. Who am I kidding, you can smell it before you even get to the door. The neighborhood kids gossip about it, my friends have given up on seeing me, and my family has all but disowned me. It’s a problem I’ve kept hidden for months and have never quite been able to admit. But it’s become far too obvious to ignore, and it’s time to stop hiding. I am a hoarder, and what I hoard is episodes of the TV show Hoarders.
They’re impossible to resist, you see. You record them and you watch them, and that’s wonderful on its own. To see these freaks with no impulse control save things long after they’re useful, it’s just amazing. Hoarders will destroy their lives, ruin their families, all to keep a bunch of meaningless knickknacks close to their heart. On this season’s premiere episode, an elderly woman forced her dying husband to live in one small corner of their house so she could take over their bedroom, kitchen, and everywhere else to store her souvenir mugs, plates, and wicker baskets. He was obese, and the lack of mobility was destroying his fitness – meaning his wife was literally hoarding him to death! What wackos. I cluck at their foolishness and hit save on my DVR, adding that episode to the twenty others I keep on my DVR and watch once. Luckily I have boundaries.
I hoard every episode of Hoarders, as well as every episode of any show that Hoarders has been ever advertised on. I also keep every episode of Intervention and Obsessed, and though they aren’t Hoarders and are NOWHERE NEAR as good, they are similar in spirit so I feel like holding onto them. Then just for safety sake, I save every episode of every show they’ve ever been advertised on as well. At current tally that’s resulted in about 3 million hours of programming, or 15 and a half DVRs. Which sounds like a lot until you see them stacked one on top of another and you realize, “Oh, that’s really a lot. What sort of nutcase am I standing next to?” Then you look at me, and I look at you, and most likely you call the cops. But other than that my apartment is really quite tidy.
Intervention, a show about a family’s effort to coax their loved ones into treatment for substance abuse, has been on TV far longer than Hoarders, but already trails it in the ratings. Intervention has won Emmys, and they’re extremely well deserved. The show is clearly about something, and probably does more good for the world than anything else on TV. Hoarders, on the other hand, is about people with messy homes. And yeah, they’re REALLY messy, so messy that occasionally they find dead animal carcasses from forgotten pets a few levels down in the cleanup –– but still, it’s really just about a messy house. And it’s that slight levity, that “this is super serious but not so serious that someone’s gonna die” feeling, that makes Hoarders so addictive. I mean, that is if a person actually could be addicted to it –– which they obviously CAN’T because I’m NOT.
Driving by a car accident where someone died is sad and stays with you for years, but driving by one where stuff just got really screwed up: now that’s a Sunday afternoon. That’s Hoarders. Real life, but not REAL LIFE. A show about a line we’re all toeing (“Is this acceptably messy or pathologically messy or obsessively clean?”), that comforts us by showing how far we actually are from crossing it. I think, until I get to that 16th DVR, I’m in the clear. How about you?