Freak Show and Tell: Hippie Bunker Builders, Love Doll Collectors, and Urine Drinkers
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.
Doomsday Preppers (NatGeo)
Who Is This Now? Ed and Diana Peden.
Why Are We Watching Them? Because they bought a decommissioned missile base and converted it into a home/fortified bunker in which to ride out the effects of an apparently inevitable economic collapse.
How Did They Get Here? They started out as regular hippies, and then turned into survivalists — but the kind who are building a postapocalyptic community that includes “a living food chef, an intuitive healer, and a spiritualist.” Also, a drum circle.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? The hot tub, on its own, is not so bad; as Ed notes, it’s one of the comforts that will allow Diana and him not just to survive, but to thrive. Then these sexagenarian hippies add that, because swimsuits never rinse out properly after exposure to the chlorine, they only hot-tub in the nude. NOT COOL.
What Have We Learned? If you ever bought crystals from a roadside stand in Kansas, you might have unwittingly funded a group one or two steps removed from a doomsday cult.
My Crazy Obsession (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Bob and Lizzie Gibbins.
Why Are We Watching Them? They’ve spent around $150,000 on their collection of more than 200 “love dolls” (read: sex dolls). [Editor’s note: (Read: wretching noise).]
How Did They Get Here? Bob’s interest in collecting dolls for non-sexual purposes (seriously, he claims he doesn’t have sex with them) started when he was a kid, when he collected teddy bears and (regular) dolls. Lizzie has gone along with Bob’s later-in-life collecting activities because, she claims, the shared interest has been something of a relationship saver.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? The moment when Bob removes a silicon sex doll’s wig and face plate was the episode’s grossest moment, until Bob (a) negotiates the purchase of a “sparingly used” sex doll, and then (b) takes possession of said used sex doll and gives it a sponge bath with ordinary soap and water as opposed to, let’s say, undiluted bleach. Or, better yet, fire! Look, I realize that when times are tough, the first line item we ALL cut in our household budgets is for new sex dolls. But consider all the DNA on and in this pre-loved doll Bob has bought, and try not to puke. Oh, you haven’t puked? Okay, here’s another fact: LIZZIE KISSES IT.
What Have We Learned? In Lizzie Gibbins, TLC has found either the world’s most tolerant wife, or the most gullible.
My Strange Addiction (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Carrie
Why Are We Watching Her? Because, for the past four years, she’s drunk virtually all the urine her body produces.
How Did She Get Here? After a diagnosis of cancer, she refused chemotherapy and turned instead to “urine therapy,” despite the fact that its supposed medical benefits are completely unproven.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? You think I’m going to say it’s Carrie’s quaffing glass after glass of warm urine — and, in fact, that’s extremely unpleasant. But what’s even worse is when she fills a shot glass-sized cup with urine and clamps it over her wide-open eye. I swear to you, this occurs.
What Have We Learned? Upon pressure from her distressed daughters, Carrie does finally see a doctor, who expresses concern over what appears to be a recurrence of Carrie’s (never-treated) melanoma and gently suggests, of the urine therapy, “I would recommend taking a little hiatus for a while.” But Carrie is unconvinced; as she opines earlier in the episode, “I don’t think the doctor would even know enough about urine to tell me not to do it.” Yeah, what can you expect to learn about human waste from some doctor?!
Tara Ariano is considering building a bunker to keep out hippies.