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Freak Show & Tell: Chinese Paranoia, Cradle Robbers, and Severed Hands

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? “Mr. Wayne” (not his real name).

Why Are We Watching Him? He’s preparing his property to withstand intruders and looters in a postapocalyptic situation.

How Did He Get Here? He’s come to fear that the world economy is going to collapse due to unstoppable domination by China.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Showing off his hoard of food, “Mr. Wayne” demonstrates that dog food will offer a source of protein in an emergency by eating some, on camera. There’s a lot of viscous liquid in the can. And then when he reads the ingredient list, it turns out that this alleged chicken-based dog food also contains horse meat.

What Have We Learned? Not even the Doomsday Preppers narrator can credit the idea of China calling in all its U.S. debt, because doing so would risk its relationship with the biggest importer of its products. So you can cross that apocalyptic scenario off your list of concerns! Then, before you look at that list and see how many things on it are still kind of viable, fold up that list and put it in a drawer and close that drawer.

My Mom Is Obsessed (Discovery Fit & Health)

Who Is This Now? Kathryn (and her daughter Chelsea).

Why Are We Watching Her? Chelsea is dismayed that Kathryn spends less time with her than she does with her much younger boyfriends (plural).

How Did She Get Here? Kathryn was raised by a father who didn’t think any of his daughters had amounted to anything, and married a man (whom she has since divorced) who regarded her in much the same way. Now she revels in younger men’s attention and approval.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? It’s a tie between the moment that Kathryn crows that 126 men have viewed her online dating profile and the moment when she gets so drunk on a bowling outing with Chelsea that Chelsea has to drive them home.

What Have We Learned? Kathryn, by the end of the episode, is evidently making a greater effort to spend time with Chelsea. However, every time she gets a call or a text from one of the dudes in her harem and declines to take it, she can’t help ostentatiously announcing her rectitude. Eh, it’s still progress.

Bizarre ER (Discovery Fit & Health)

Who Is This Now? Martin.

Why Are We Watching Him? His hand is basically in the process of falling off.

How Did He Get Here? The usual: hideous mishap with a chainsaw.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? “The hand will need supporting because it kind of flops,” says Martin, and it’s true: When the doctors unwrap the bandage around his wrist, it becomes clear that said bandage is what was keeping his hand attached to his arm.

What Have We Learned? You can cut your hand almost completely off with a chainsaw and still retain sensation and function, if you are very, very lucky.

Tara Ariano would probably surrender to any foe if the alternative involved eating dog food.