After five and a half hours – a full seven episodes – of this addicting reality show, you’re likely to look around your own home and feel a little bit better about the clutter you may have. “Hoarders” – a reality show in the best sense of the term – features people (and sometimes couples) suffering from a debilitating compulsive disorder that prevents them from being able to part with pretty much anything. But these aren’t just people who happen to have a lot of junk lying around, these are people on the verge of personal crisis – some are facing foreclosure, some are in danger of having their children taken away, some already have had their children taken away, and one especially incredible case features a man who is facing jail time unless he cleans up his property. Each case is unique and intriguing and though no two hoarders are the same, there’s a clear throughline in the show – despite constant signs of distress and looming personal risks, these people are often unable to part with even the simplest objects.
Each episode begins with a brief description of the disorder – which seems to include a mix of obsessive-compulsive disorder among other things – and covers two cases each, usually of hoarders with very different problems. For example, the finale includes a child who can’t throw away even a single cotton ball on one hand and a grandfather with a few acres of scrap metal (including a full schoolbus!) on the other. The juxtaposition of the two cases in each episode keeps the show moving, especially as it becomes clear who will benefit from the assistance the crew on the show are offering and who will not. The show features a rotating crew of psychologists, moving crews, and professional organizers who show up at the designated hoarding houses and attempt to help the afflicted person(s) purge their houses. As often as not the attempts to help are unsuccessful, and though this can be frustrating as a viewer, it’s also a testament to how intense the illness is. At the end of each episode there is a brief follow-up to say what the final outcome was of the intervention. These are especially interesting, though I often wished these bits were a bit more in-depth, particularly for those who had the most trouble letting go of anything.
The 2-disc season one collection features a few minutes of extra footage from each episode, and once you’ve gotten through the show you’ll be more than intrigued by what could have been filmed but left out. The series will soon be in its second season on A&E and after sitting through the first season in a single sitting (maybe I have a bit of the obsessive-compulsive disorder myself!) I’m already ready for more. If you get a chance to check this show out, don’t miss it. It could be called voyeuristic guilty pleasure reality television, but with featured psychologists giving their professional opinions, it feels like so much more.
Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: Anyone with a fascination for complicated disorders
Stay Away if: You can’t stand mess – even if it’s only on your screen