Freak Show and Tell: Bug Eaters, Weight-Obsessed Moms, and Cat Jewelry
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 (Nat Geo)
Who Is This Now? John Major.
Why Are We Watching Him? Because he’s the former Prime Minister of Britain — maybe read a book? Just kidding, it’s a different John Major. This one is preparing his family for the breakdown of society.
How Did He Get Here? John is anxious about the possibility of coordinated dirty bomb attacks “on U.S. soil” by “low-level terrorists” or “rogue states.”
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Because John believes that dirty bomb attacks would contaminate the food chain with their radioactive fallout, he is getting his children accustomed to eating insects. And, sure, we all read that story in The New Yorker about the increasing popularity of eating cooked mealworms (which the Major family cooks up in the episode), but one of the Major kids also scarfs down a raw, live cricket. It’s unpleasant.
What Have We Learned? The currency of postapocalyptic America might turn out to be seeds. Also, Idaho apparently has no prohibition on allowing children as young as 7 to shoot live ammunition from rifles.
My Mom Is Obsessed (Discovery Fit & Health)
Who Is This Now? Tamara (and her daughter, Alizabeth).
Why Are We Watching Her? She obsessively monitors not just her own food intake and weight, but her teenage daughter’s as well.
How Did She Get Here? Though she was quite slender in her youth, Tamara gained weight during her pregnancy, and has never been able to take it off, despite the fact that she’s “always at the gym” and has “tried every diet in the book.” During therapy, Tamara also reveals that her mother left the family when Tamara was very young, so that she grew up without feminine nurturing of any kind.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? It’s pretty rough when Tamara puts 14-year-old Alizabeth on the scale and scolds her for (apparently) gaining two pounds in a week. But creepier still is a shot of Tamara’s fridge, during which we see a fleeting shot of a product in the Gerber Graduates line. From what we see during the show, there aren’t any toddlers living with Tamara and Alizabeth, which suggests that one of the diets Tamara might currently be “trying” is the one where adults eat nothing but baby food.
What Have We Learned? You shouldn’t weigh yourself every single day. You certainly shouldn’t weigh your teenage daughter every day unless you’re encouraging her to develop an eating disorder.
Must Love Cats (Animal Planet)
Who Is This Now? Flora Davis.
Why Are We Watching Her? She makes jewelry out of her cat’s hair. And apparently sells it. To whom? I hope I never find out.
How Did She Get Here? Who the hell knows, but she lives in San Francisco, so you know how that goes.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Flora, wearing jewelry she made out of her cat’s hair.
What Have We Learned? I’ve never loved anything like this weirdo loves her cat.
Please don’t ever invite Tara Ariano to a cat hair crafting party.