If you're ever having a bit of a weird day, and you feel like you might be a bit crazy, turn on an episode of Hoarders. You will feel like the most normal, level-headed person in the world.
If you haven't heard of it, Hoarders is an American series that follows people who suffer from compulsive hoarding. Hoarding occurs when a person begins collecting objects with no obvious value or necessity, and is unable to throw these objects away. Basically, the show is about people who have too much shit in their houses. Sometimes they literally have shit all over their houses, but that's another story.
The average episode of the series focuses on two hoarders as they try and rid their home of all the crap they have collected. They are aided by a professional organiser, who is tasked with clearing the mess from the house, and a psychiatrist, who tries to figure out why the person has collected so much stuff. For the sake of this article, I'm going to focus on a particular episode from the show's first season. The episode is centred around Jill from Milwaukee and Jennifer & Ron, a couple from Louisville.
Jennifer and Ron are at risk of losing their three children after a neighbour called social services regarding the state of their home. Jennifer is addicted to shopping and Ron is a compulsive hoarder, which isn't really the best combo. Their home is covered in unwashed laundry and bric-a-brac. They are forced to eat meals on their bed because there is no space in the kitchen. The professional organiser is called in to their home and they begin to remove the clutter from the house. However, Ron becomes distressed when he discovers that the team plans to throw out his fish tanks. His six fish tanks. He says that they may be useful to him, despite the fact that he does not own any fish. He finally relents, though, and their house is cleared. A fairly happy ending.
Jill's hoarding, on the other hand, is a lot more disgusting. As well as collecting useless crap, Jill hoards food. She says she doesn't believe in use-by dates and will eat anything as long as it hasn't 'puffed up' from bacteria. Her living room is cluttered with rotten vegetables and her house is swarming with flies. Despite this, she says she doesn't think her house smells, and seems to think it's an okay living environment for her several dozen cats.
When the psychiatrist begins clearing out Jill's fridge, she becomes irked when he tries to throw out soup that has been out of date for over a year. She says that it looks fine. In one particularly disgusting scene, we see Jill picking seeds from a rotten pumpkin because she hopes to grow some for herself. Through the course of the episode, we discover that Jill hoards because she has gone through periods of poverty. She feels like she must have lots of food in the house so she can survive. In the end, though, her house is cleaned up and she begins trying to curb her hoarding (AKA stop keeping rotten food all over her house).
I like the ending of a Hoarders episode, because it fills you with a sense of hope that the hoarder will succeed in overcoming their compulsion. However, I tend to believe that they immediately begin collecting old magazines as soon as the camera crew leaves.
If you would like to watch Hoarders, it is shown at 5 on weeknights on Bio.