Hot on the heels of the popularity of A&E TV’s Hoarders documentary TV series (the network’s top-rated show), the cable network TLC is producing its own documentary series on hoarding, called Hoarding: Buried Alive.
The two shows have marked similarities. Each features a pair of real-life individuals who hoard (to varying degrees). Each sends in experts (usually a therapist and a professional organizer) to help the hoarder. Each treats the clients with respect. Each shows before and afters and each emphasizes the psychology behind the disorder.
And each is riveting television, as far as I’m concerned. The big difference between the two shows is that A&E’s Hoarders brings in a crew consisting of a therapist, organizer (or organizing team) and junk haulers and works for about three days to clear the home. I know from talking to the producers that they require the clients to be facing some sort of crisis. As I’ve blogged here before, that’s my biggest complaint about the show. The fact that the client is facing eviction, losing custody of child, or some other crisis means that he or she may not be ready to make a change. That might make for good TV, but I find it heart wrenching to watch.
TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, by contrast, allows the client to work with the professionals over time. TV cameras capture the initial meetings. Then they go away and come back weeks later to tape the progress. To me, this creates a much more realistic impression of the decluttering process in working in severely cluttered situations. And even with weeks to work with the professionals, the show has shown that progress can be glacial.
One thing I love about both shows is that feature fantastic professional organizers who ask great questions and give a realistic impression of what working with a PO can be like. (To see some examples, check out my friend Geralin Thomas’s YouTube page, which features snippets of her work on Hoarders.)
I enjoy watching both shows and am glad that TLC’s series started just as the A&E series ended the first-run shows of the second season. I still get my weekly fix!