Grantland logo

Freak Show & Tell: Robot Babies, Weeping Armpits, and Insane Mothers-in-Law

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.

Pregnant in Heels (Bravo)

Who Is This Now? Paula and Jay.

Why Are We Watching Them? Though the birth of their first child is imminent, they know nothing about babies, and are taking baby lessons from maternity concierge Rosie Pope.

How Did They Get Here? Like many of Pope’s clients, Jay and Paula decided to have a kid without ever having apparently cared for a baby, met a baby, or even seen a baby, ever, in their entire lives.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Jessica calls her Christian Louboutin shoes “Loubs”; Jay’s capped teeth are visible from space.

What Have We Learned? The robot baby with which Pope tests Jay and Paula’s caretaking skills should be standard issue in all high school sex-ed classes. This monster’s ear-splitting screams = the world’s most effective argument for abstinence.

Embarrassing Bodies (DFH)

Who Is This Now? David.

Why Are We Watching Him? He has a gigantic, weeping abscess in his armpit (which splits anew whenever he lifts his elbow any higher than his shoulder) that roving physician Dr. Christian Jessen diagnoses as Hidradenitis suppurativa.

How Did He Get Here? The (revolting) condition can be caused by “stress, excessive perspiration, or hormonal changes.” If stress is the issue in David’s case, I doubt his having to keep his arms pinned to his sides for fear that people are going to smell the decay wafting out from his underarms lessened it any.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Augh, David’s wound! There is only one word for the bits of flesh hanging (and, at one point, falling off) the jagged, angry edges of David’s abscess, and I’m sorry, but that word is “gobbets.”

What Have We Learned? One in 100 people have this thing! LIVE IN FEAR THAT THE NEXT VICTIM COULD BE YOOOOOOOOOOOOU!

Monster In-Laws (A&E)

Who Is This Now? Jessica and Nick, and Nick’s mother, Esper.

Why Are We Watching Them? They’ve sought the aid of “family expert” Laura Baron to work on some of their issues.

How Did They Get Here? Esper’s controlling behavior (how controlling? She and Nick — who is 26 — have a joint checking account, through which she manages Nick’s finances, cutting Jessica out of the picture), and her antipathy toward Nick’s wife, Jessica, is causing conflict between Jessica and Nick. The situation is so fraught that Jessica has threatened to leave Nick and take their children with her.

What’s the Grossest Thing We See? Learning that Esper responded to Nick’s attempts at healing her relationship with Jessica by texting him angrily until 4 a.m., winding up by letting him know he’s dead to her, is pretty rough, but I also wasn’t thrilled to see that Esper — who looks kind of like Elvira if she fell into a cement mixer — has decorated her front door with a sign that reads “Home is where your HARLEY is.”

What Have We Learned? Sometimes it’s OK to do what Jessica and Nick do: Cut a hostile family member out of your life completely.

Tara Ariano is now a hypochondriac, but only about Hidradenitis suppurativa.