Reality show freaks make the rest of us feel like neat freaks

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

When it comes to spring cleaning and scrubbing and organizing my domain, I’d rather be chilling out watching “Hoarders.”

It’s another one of those ingenious reality shows, airing several times on Monday nights on A&E TV, that can make us feel really special and good about ourselves.

I mean, how can my cluttered little corner of the world compare to Barbara, who “trolls for stuff in alleyways and dumpsters,” to add to the hoarding pile in her million-dollar home where “neighbors look on in disgust”?

Or there’s Jan, who “admits she’s a pushy, belligerent woman who’s been living in filth for years. She hasn’t taken out the trash since 2006 and will go months without a shower. She’s been given 15 days to clean up or face eviction from her rental.”

Constance hoards chickens and unrefrigerated eggs at her “fresh-egg operation,” some of them evolving into embryos, while Annie “cleans houses for a living, but unbelievably is a hoarder in her own home.”

Ha! The post-Easter dust bunnies hopping across my floor, begging for clearance as soon as I have a day off to tend to them, seem fairly tame by comparison. I smugly smile as I clutch the TV remote, too busy watching to vacuum. At least I’m not as messy and hopeless as these folks. Who has time to clean house when there are educational episodes like this to tune into?

If Monday-night “Hoarders” isn’t enough, there’s “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” a similar documentary rendition airing on TLC, featuring more people who have gone awry with their housekeeping and “compulsive storing,” for assorted reasons.

Herv and Janet’s house has “cobwebs hanging down in sheets, covered in dust,” not to mention piles of trash and mystery bags of “stuff” dominating their décor, in the fashionable hoarding style of “discombobulated dishevelment.” Wendy, Herv’s mistress, is described as unfazed when she cheerily pays the couple a visit to observe this mess. (The storylines often go as deep, dangerous and dramatic as the junk piles.)

Another husband, Jeff, is outraged to learn his wife, Vickie, has been secretly hoarding mini-warehouses full of stuff for years—and paying hefty monthly rental fees—that he didn’t even know existed. Ignorance, from his hoarding wife’s standpoint, was bliss—until he found out in this episode titled, “Hoarding May End My Marriage.”

“I just see junk—I don’t even see anything that’s worth even dealing with,” Jeff complains, standing amid one of Vickie’s secret stored collections.

“You’d be surprised,” she responds. I’ll bet. Stay tuned for the next warehouse just around the corner.

Fascinating as all this “stuff” and people are to watch, the unspoken message they convey to the audience out in TV-land is we don’t want to be like them.

Watching their trials was enough to motivate me off the couch this past weekend, away from the TV and this here laptop computer to take a load of Mickey Mouse sheets and other old linens—dating back to the days when my kids were still kids—to Goodwill.

The dust bunnies dissipated with a mere swipe of the vacuum. I took out two loads of garbage and ran the dishwasher.

I felt great and my house looked great after my rare and glorious feng shui attack. Clearing out the clutter really does clear away the cobwebs, freeing me up just in time by Monday night to tune into another exciting episode of “Hoarding.”

Don’t laugh. I was doing research.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.