Hoarding: Buried Alive
TLC's hit show, Hoarding: Buried Alive, explores the lives of compulsive hoarders and documents the detrimental effects on their homes, families and friends. Now a recognized as a mental disorder, hoarding is the persistent collection of low-value items to an extent that causes physical, social and health problems. In Hoarding: Buried Alive, hoarders are portrayed sympathetically yet honestly. The subjects are often shown at their worst: stubborn, delusional, selfish and angry. Explosive, emotional arguments frequently pit the hoarder against family members who are desperately trying to save their loved ones from themselves. Still, the show's tone keeps the viewer hoping that the hoarder will be the hero of their own saga, rather than just the villain.
The show's outcome is usually a rehabilitation of both the hoarder and the home. Both are presented as an intertwined and occasionally intersecting storyline. A professional organizer works with the hoarder to physically organize remaining possessions; she firmly prods the reluctant collector to part with most of his or her cache. Often so much material is packed into the hoarder's house that a team of friends, family and volunteers must assist in sorting through years' worth of acquisitions. While most items are rightly routed to an onsite dumpster, salvageable items are donated to thrift stores; a concession which often provides some solace to the agitated hoarder.
Meanwhile, a therapist works with the hoarder to determine the root cause of the hoarding. Often the compulsion manifests after a personal tragedy or accompanies another mental illness. Then, the therapist works to modify their behavior by exposing them thrift stores, auctions or other venues where they are tempted to accumulate.
Hoarding: Buried Alive gives the viewer a rare glimpse into a debilitating mental illness that is usually literally kept behind closed doors. In a tone as serious as it is hopeful, TLC treats the delicate subject matter with dignity while still providing entertainment value.