We’re able to take a number of such journeys these days, thanks to television. For better or worse, the medium shows us more of our world and the people who live in it than it ever used to show us in the past.
Just a few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that a TV series would take us inside the lives of people who are addicted to eating toilet paper and detergent (as seen on “My Strange Addiction” on TLC) or people who tip the scales at 1,000 pounds or more (as seen on numerous TLC and Discovery obesity specials) or people who live in homes stuffed floor to ceiling with household trash and the occasional mummified corpses of dead house pets (as seen on “Hoarders”).
“Hoarders,” in particular, has emerged as TV’s most astonishing show, and it is returning for its fourth season Monday night (June 20) at 9/8c on A&E. And, as if that show isn’t enough to curl your hair, A&E is bringing back “Intervention” for its 11th season on the same night (10/9c).
“Hoarders” is the show everyone is talking about that deals with people who can’t throw anything away and, as a result, their homes are in states of such dire disrepair that they’re being threatened with eviction, condemnation and/or abandonment by fed-up family members. This series has spawned a number of imitators (such as “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC), but this one is the original and still the best.
The individuals profiled on “Hoarders” are particularly disturbing because they seem as if they are seriously mentally ill — which makes you wonder if it was appropriate to put them on TV in the first place (and yet, you watch anyway). One of the subjects on the season premiere is a woman who hoards dolls — and performs “surgery” on them.
“Intervention” is about addiction – and it is the most candid, intimate and scary look at addiction that has ever been produced for television, or possibly anywhere. On “Intervention,” the stakes are even higher than on “Hoarders” since the addicts profiled are not only in danger of losing their homes and their families, but their very lives too. Other shows about addiction have sprung up in this show’s wake too, but this one still beats all the rest.
These two shows, along with a number of others (particularly on TLC, which seems to regard A&E as its main competition in this particular corner of television), represent the very limits of where TV is willing to take us these days.
We happen to find both “Hoarders” and “Intervention” to be riveting, and A&E’s pairing of them both on Monday nights makes for a very moving, if not disconcerting viewing experience.