Freak Show & Tell: Yard Living, Breast Milk Styling Gel, and TLC’s Unholy Reincarnation of Teen Mom
Every week, television documentaries present us with so many unusual people, with so many strange and/or disturbing problems, you might find it hard to keep up with all of them. That’s where I come in! Here’s an unflinching look back at TV’s Week in Freak Shows.
Hoarding: Buried Alive (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Gary.
Why Are We Watching Him? Having hoarded so many things in his house that trash is piled nearly to the ceiling in every room, Gary now lives in his yard.
How Did He Get Here? There were lots of causes. Gary father physically abused him (once beating him with a razor strop for half an hour). Later in his life, Gary’s wife left him and their children, whereupon Gary started drinking heavily. (His children, Ken and Kathleen, were raised by other relatives, and haven’t seen him in decades before the threat of Gary’s imminent eviction brought them back.) By Gary’s own assessment, though, the issue is that he likes to shop and can’t resist a good deal.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Gary claims, “Food never goes bad. Only your ability to digest it goes bad.” Which I guess explains why he doesn’t see a problem with leaving fresh food in flimsy containers on the ground by his bed in the yard … and then eating it, even if it’s weeks past its sell-by date and/or possibly molested by animals.
What Have We Learned? If you write off a parent because of his intractable hoarding problems only to reunite on a TLC reality show about cleaning up his property, you may miss a lot of potentially good years with him and only realize it in the last two minutes of your episode when he announces that he has multiple cancers.
Beverly Hills Nannies (ABC Family)
Who Is This Now? Marika.
Why Are We Watching Her? She’s breaking in her new nanny, Amanda.
How Did She Get Here? Marika recently parted ways with her previous nanny, Justin, because he was insufficiently deferential to her.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? It’s pretty obnoxious when Marika explains the function of her son Xander’s amber teething necklace (“it’s BALTIC amber”), but that’s trumped by the moment when Marika tells Amanda she has set aside some of her breast milk supply to feed to her dog; she also puts some on her hands and uses it to give her son Xander a Mohawk.
What Have We Learned? Money can’t buy you class, just like the Countess said.
Love Broker (Bravo)
Who Is This Now? Doug.
Why Are We Watching Him? Matchmaker Lori Zaslow is trying to find him his soul mate.
How Did He Get Here? He’s a 34-year-old entrepreneur who’s never been in love — perhaps because his rules about the women he’ll date (they can’t be divorced, have kids, or be in any debt) are too restrictive.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Doug abruptly ends a date with Jessica, the woman Lori’s chosen for him from her roster of single women, when he finds out that she lives with her mother.
What Have We Learned? Well, we certainly have an idea of why Doug has to pay a stranger to find women to go out with him.
High School Moms (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Catrina.
Why Are We Watching Her? She attends Colorado’s Florence Crittenton High School — a special facility for pregnant and parenting teens.
How Did She Get Here? Catrina currently meets both criteria for admission to Florence Crittenton: She’s the mother of a toddler, and she’s pregnant with her second child.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? It’s kind of a drag when Catrina says that she decided to keep her first son, Landon, because she’s the kind of person who “owns up to [her] mistakes.” I realize that she (probably) means the mistake was the unplanned pregnancy and not the sweet little boy who resulted from it, but the statement still hits the ear kind of harshly.
What Have We Learned? Every politician who opposes Planned Parenthood should be forced to shadow a Florence Crittenton student for a day.
Tara Ariano doesn’t need to know what you do with your breast milk.