Since the highly-rated premiere of "Hoarders" on A&E a few weeks ago, I can't shake the nagging feeling that my pantry and I are about two boxes of pasta away from a painful, televised intervention.
The show, which offers a disturbing look inside the homes (and minds) of people with a particular type of obsessive-compulsive disorder which compels them to hoard stuff (some people hoard any and everything, others specialize), can elicit a lot of different reactions from viewers. Maybe it makes you feel good about your own relatively spotless-by-comparison home, or maybe it drives you to finally clean out that garage that no longer holds your car, or maybe it simply repulses you.
Personally, after watching the first episode, I turned off the television, went upstairs, and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning out my cluttered office. And I've heard from other TV fans who say they now enjoy cleaning while watching the show. Maybe it's inspirational. Maybe it's the great motivator.
But it's no laughing matter. Entertainment Weekly's Josh Wolk has written a great article about "Hoarders." Does the show offer a sobering look at a serious problem, or is it exploitative?
I'd feel better about the show if I felt A&E was making more of an effort to help the people they're featuring. Sometimes they send in a psychologist, but just as often the "experts" seem no more qualified than a consultant from the Container Store. The biggest obstacle seems to be that the folks have only two days to undo all the damage that's taken years to do, and after the camera crew leaves, so does the help and support. If A&E's making money off the show, maybe they should make more of a commitment to their subjects.
If you've watched "Hoarders," let us know what you think. Is it helpful and informative? Or do you think it's just a sideshow taking advantage of sick people?
"Hoarders" airs on Monday nights at 10pm, but you can also watch episodes online at the A&E website.