Monday, January 18, 2010

Hoarders and Intervention...why so fascinated?

I'm asking a question today to which I have no answer: Why are we, as a society, so fascinated with shows like "Hoarders" and "Intervention"? Specifically, why am I so fascinated by these two shows?

I "DVR" (yes, it does seem to be a verb these days) both of these shows. I started watching Intervention a few years ago and then quit recording it because....I felt guilty? Had thyroid cancer and was dealing with that? It was too voyeuristic?

Let me back up a second and give you a quick synopsis of each show from the A&E website:

Each 60-minute episode of Hoarders is a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis.

Intervention™ is a powerful and gripping television series in which people confront their darkest demons and seek a route to redemption. The Intervention Television series profiles people whose dependencies on drugs and alcohol or other compulsive behavior has brought them to a point of personal crisis and estranged them from their friends and loved ones.

Chris watched the first episode of Hoarders with me a few months ago. After 10 minutes of watching it, he jokingly said to me, "We are going to have to turn off this show if you continue with this." I realized at that moment I was standing up with my mouth open, both hands on each side of my face in astonishment.

That is just one of the many emotions I feel as I watch these shows. Other include:
  • Why?

  • How on earth?

  • What a shame....

  • My life seems very simple and uncomplicated...

  • How can she have her kids taken away and not clean that place/quit drinking/quit drugs, etc.?
I feel so bad for the families affected as well as the individual themselves, who often have had some traumatic event that went unaddressed in their life that brought them to this point. I wonder how easily I could have found myself in a similar position post-divorce, post-cancer, etc. I think many of us could point to a life-changing event where we chose to overcome and push through where others went down a more difficult road and succombed to an addiction of some form.

I'm not saying we are better than those who went down another path. Rather, we are fortunate, blessed, lucky, whatever you want to call it, that we didn't.

At the end of each of these shows, there is closure...Two months later, Jan is still in treatment, doing well, and has discovered her artistic side. Mary's house is still clean. In fact, her daughter was able to host her first ever slumber party.

I feel triumphant for each of them at this point....they did it! Because by about 15 minutes into each of these hour-long shows, you think there is absolutely no hope. Whew! Good for them.

But then I realize too that just because the show is over doesn't mean their situation is over. They must be diligent in their follow up. Their support system must not waiver.

So...why do I watch? I'm not sure, but I always feel like I've dealt with some personal demon by the end of each episode. Almost exhausted. And...I'm more thankful.


  1. I sort of like to watch those shows too ... not exactly sure why.

    I feel so sad for those people ... life must be more than they can handle.

    All the best to you Charlcie!

  2. I don't know about full-blown hoarding, but when I see a really messy house, my reaction is a mixture of horror and admiration. I wish I were even a little bit more comfortable with chaos. I think that people who are are probably happiest. Hoarders of course take this way to far....But yeah it's still fascinating!