Every week, television documentaries present us with so many unusual people, 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.
What!? Logo Documentaries: “Animism: People Who Love Objects” (Logo)
Who Is This Now? Linda.
Why Are We Watching Her? She’s an objectum-sexual, meaning she’s attracted to inanimate objects, and she’s walking us through her relationship history.
How Did She Get Here? When Linda first learned how to pilot an airplane, she found herself sexually attracted to it, and since then has been a serial monogamist with a variety of objects.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Of course we don’t actually see any of this, but: Linda tells us the story of her “meeting” with a train locomotive, which/who was “like a peacock flashing his tail at” her; to be closer to this train, she got a job on the railroad. “Being young, you know, the trains did to me everything I thought they would do, and I really thought that I wanted to be intimate with a locomotive. I was seen in a romantic embrace with a train, and subsequently I was fired.” I don’t know how anyone could tell she was “in a romantic embrace” with a train unless she was naked? Right?
What Have We Learned? Objectum-sexuals’ friends are really determined to promote acceptance by likening their friends’ proclivities to being gay, but I’m pretty sure that we, as a society, aren’t QUITE there yet (nor will we be in the foreseeable future).
Doomsday Preppers (Nat Geo)
Who Is This Now? Chad.
Why Are We Watching Him? He’s showing us how he and his family plan to survive the apocalypse.
How Did He Get Here? He believes that the U.S. citizenry is vulnerable to nuclear attack and subsequent democide by their own government.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? After building a claustrophobically small (24-inch diameter) tunnel underground to connect the house to the yard without exposing his family members to the open air, Chad wakes up his tween daughters in the dead of night and makes them try it out, even though they vocally express their resistance. (Their terrier has to do it too.) Later, Chad informs us that “the elites are certainly swayed by demonic or Satanic powers, whether they know it or not.”
What Have We Learned? Chad’s children might be safe from hypothetical marauders, but I’m not certain they’re safe from Chad.
Extreme Cheapskates (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Melody.
Why Are We Watching Her? She’s walking us through the extensive efforts she makes to save money.
How Did She Get Here? Saving money started as a game and has turned into an obsession.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? All four members of the family share the same (cold) bathwater whenever they bathe. Instead of buying toilet paper and flushing it down the toilet, they wipe with newspaper circulars that get collected in a plastic garbage bag in the bathroom and, eventually, burned. When Melody’s daughter brings her family for a visit, Melody serves squirrel meat to the baby. In order not to heat their entire house, all four members of the family — including Melody’s teenage son — sleep in one bed. I could go on, but basically it’s all gross.
What Have We Learned? Melody may have come up with some of these money-saving strategies as cover for skimping on hygiene. (I mean, whether or not that’s how it started, that’s definitely where she is now.)
Preachers of L.A. (Oxygen)
Who Is This Now? Loretta.
Why Are We Watching Her? She’s throwing a Fourth of July party with her “friend,” Bishop Noel Jones.
How Did She Get Here? Noel and Loretta have had a close “friendship” for the past 16 years, since Noel divorced his wife.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? For some reason (producer intervention, probably), half the cast of this show has decided to make it their mission to get Noel to marry Loretta. Bishop Ron Gibson even challenges Noel to a game of pool where, if Noel loses, he will have to let Ron marry him and Loretta. And just when I’m getting defensive of Loretta because, I feel like, if she had wanted to get married, she would have either made it happen or left Noel before this, she starts dropping martyr-y hints to the other pastors’ wives that she does actually want Noel’s peers to pressure him into proposing. Hey Loretta, if you want to marry Noel so badly, why don’t you propose to him?
What Have We Learned? I am probably not going to find a lot of feminist ideals portrayed on any Oxygen show, least of all Preachers of L.A.
Watch the full episode here.
Hoarding: Buried Alive (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Michelle.
Why Are We Watching Her? She has hoarded her house past the point of livability.
How Did She Get Here? Severe depression, from what we can tell.
What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Michelle got so far behind on her taxes that her bank foreclosed on her house, which was then purchased by Tony and Mark, real-estate developers who planned to flip it. Because she was incapable, Michelle didn’t clean any of her stuff out of the house before Mark and Tony took possession, so it wasn’t until they went to inspect the interior of their new property for the first time that they saw the state of it: garbage almost up to the ceiling in some rooms, and RATS EVERYWHERE. The rats are so big and so hardy that the exterminator they hire to get rid of them doesn’t come close; he also says the rats are the biggest he has ever seen. (The largest that appear on camera appear to be about the size of fully-grown rabbits.) Because the rats have had the run of the house so long, they’ve basically excreted their waste on everything — and yet, when therapist Becky Beaton challenges Michelle to get rid of some of her books, Michelle refuses, even though the covers are completely coated in rat feces.
What Have We Learned? Mark and Tony clean out the house and sell it back to Michelle (who somehow secures a loan for the price they paid for it), so I guess we’ve learned there’s nothing Michelle can do to stop well-meaning people from giving her more chances to lower her neighbors’ property values.