No, I'm not talking about the political climate in my fair state (although that's horrifying on an apocalyptic level), I'm talking about TV.
Let me back the truck up. I'm sick. Sick with a hacking, phleghmy cough complicated by my asthma so I feel like total crap. Last night we bagged our karate class and stayed home. Mr. D had his monthly poker party and I had Total Control of the Remote--a rare and wonderful thing. While my sons played nicely, I switched on the ol' TV and thoroughly enjoyed watching an episode of The Middle. Then I switched it off and bundled the boys into bed with stories and wishes for sweet dreams. I flopped back onto my own bed and debated whether to reach for my book or the remote.
I chose the remote and began to flick-flick-flickity-flick through the channels. (For those of you without cable--it's mostly a wasteland out there, people. SO not worth the money. But I have a husband who wins all the bread in our house and he luffs his TV, so cable it is.) The History Channel had an interesting story about 2 men who went to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. When a commercial break came on, I flipped around some more and made another discovery: Hoarders: Buried Alive! on TLC.
Clutter makes me nuts, but I just couldn't tear my eyes off the screen. This woman literally crawled and climbed over piles to get into and back out of her house--she had acquired so much stuff that she couldn't move freely--she was long past the point of having passageways between the piles. She lived in a sea of crap. Her daughters were shocked, professionals were enlisted and this woman kept breaking down and falling apart. Her stuff--her stuff--represented all of her failings in life, but she was physically and mentally incapable of letting it go. She was quite ill and resisted intervention.
Commercial break again and I switched back to the divers at the bottom of the sea, the only two men to land there and come back up alive. Apparently there are no currents at the depth of 3.5 miles below sea level, so the sediment they kicked up when they crashed into the bottom never settled. They never saw anything but milky white dust.
At the next commercial break I returned to the poor woman buried in stuff. I've never seen anything quite this extreme--you couldn't discern between valuable and useless, clothes, stuffed animals, boxes, magazines were piled to the ceiling and she didn't want to part with a single scrap of it.
Reader, I'm not a fan of reality TV, but I do love me a little What Not to Wear, another TLC program, so I stayed on until the end credits, waiting for the "reveal." Surely they'd find a way to help her, right? RIGHT?
After several false starts, her daughters returned to visit and the house looked good--the kitchen and living room had become a charming, livable space. Yet all she'd done is pile her stuff further against her back door and onto her driveway. The city was threatening legal action against her--eventually they'd condemn her property. Neither she nor her daughters could afford inpatient care to deal with her mental illness. While the end credits rolled, the show's producers explained that she had not improved and the city had begun legal action against her property--the mountains of stuff in her driveway and cluttering her yard--the end.
What the WHAT? That's it? Where was the happy ending? Why didn't they fix this woman's problems? A show like Horders: Buried Alive!--is it created simply for shock value? What's a viewer supposed to walk away feeling or knowing? I felt sick--both by this woman's terrible story but also the landfill that had come to define her purpose for living. I felt sick that I'd spent an hour learning about her problems, but no solution ever emerged. I already knew hoarding was bad, now I know specifically about some poor woman living near Chicago who will probably die buried in her stuff. After watching this show I was no smarter, not entertained and not enlightened. I had to purge myself of all the bad feelings, but it was already 10:00.
So I switched channels and found old episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Lifetime. Ted, Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall helped cleanse my palate and restore my sensibilities. Two episodes later, at 11:00, I finally switched off the Terror Vortex and set the remote control on the table next to Mr. D's side of the bed.
Random television viewing--I've learned my lesson. It's not for the weak and fainthearted. I'll stick to my scheduled programming from now on and leave the channel surfing to the professionally mindless and slack-jawed.
Spill it, reader: what's the scariest thing you've experienced on your Terror Vortex?