Hoarders: Once More Unto the Breach Filled with Stuff

Dr. Robin Zasio investigates a pile of cardboard boxes on Hoarders.
Hoarders (Photo: A+E Networks)

Hoarders pulled its way out from under a pile of newspapers to catch us up on five clients from the show’s original run. Could we see a return of the series on Lifetime soon?

It has been well over a year since A&E unceremoniously removed Hoarders from its lineup so it can focus on Duck Dynasty and a whole slate of shows that didn’t survive. But I’m not bitter. Lifetime, a sibling network under the A+E umbrella, has been showing reruns of the show since it ended its run, possibly as a test to see if maybe it could be revived.1 The next step in that test: airing a “where are they now” special to follow-up with five of the show’s previous clients.

One of the reasons I LOVED Hoarders was that the medical care was the primary focus of the program. It could have easily gone the voyeuristic route of showing people living in squalor and doing nothing or it could have featured crews coming in, clearing out the house and sending a bill, completely disregarding the trauma and dissecting cause and effect. Hoarders did include the voyeurism (the ill-advised overnight stays in the show’s final season) and some trauma-inducing cleanup mishaps, but the end-goal was always to have the client confront her/his demons in the hope that new strategies for dealing with clutter would be developed.

Monday’s special got off to a bit of a slow start, focusing on two clients I had little-to-no recollection of encountering.2 In my Hoarders Tournament of Champions division setup, Constance would have been classified as a food hoarder, though her trailer featured a wide variety of clutter. Since the show, it took her only eight months to get back to her old ways, frustrating her daughter. Ah well. Meanwhile, Shannon was an animal hoarder whose house was so overrun with feces, child protective services took her kids away. Shannon got the kids back and their house is mostly clean, though they now have 37 indoor/outdoor animals. So many birds…it’s gross, but the animals are being taken care of so yay?

The centerpiece of this episode was Kevin, the hoarder from New York’s Upper East Side. As you may recall, he was voluntarily living the life of a homeless person because his apartment became a superhoard. At the end of his original episode, Kevin’s landlord moved forward with eviction proceedings, despite Dorothy Breininger’s best efforts. It took two years and U.S. Marshals(!) to get Kevin out of his apartment, so now he is living in his van, which is filled with stuff and parked behind a rental van also filled with stuff. As for the rest of Kevin’s items, they are spread out across eight-to-ten storage units, costing him $3,000 a month. However, Kevin comes from money, so this isn’t a particular hardship. Must be nice?

The next tale of woe (whoa!) features Augustine, who was a client on the second season of the show. I know this because her episode played right before the special (thanks Lifetime!). In the HToC Augustine would be classified as an Island, someone who has absolved herself of any responsibility and blames everyone else for everything else. She was featured on a previous “Where are They Now?” special, and the results were not promising. The hoard was creeping back into the house and the Island tendencies continued. Shortly after filming, Augustine experienced severe health problems which forced her into a nursing home. It’s not often that kidney and liver failure are the best things to happen to someone, but Augustine’s new digs—and her new beau John—have completely changed her attitude. Although she has a difficult time expressing gratitude and affection toward her children, she has been working on it. Also working it: Dr. Suzanne Chabaud, who is looking particularly fabulous these days.

The last client featured was Ruth, an extreme grief case tackled by Dr. Robin Zasio and Matt Paxton. Ruth’s husband died unexpectedly about 12 years ago and she was not able to let go of any of his stuff. Though I don’t recall too many of the specifics, I did have “suuuuuuuupersad” in my notes twice for this segment. Although they worked on the grief during her original episode, Zasio was concerned they did too much too quickly. The good news: the house is still immaculate and the family greeted the doctor from the couches in the living when she entered the house. Ruth now maintains a Facebook page to help keep the conversation about extreme grief and hoarding going. Great note to end on!

So, the question now is whether or not Hoarders should come back. Although I love the show and that it provides valuable insight into grief, obsessive compulsive disorder, and dysfunctional relationships, I think the show’s time has passed. The final season of the show had several problems, such as the overnight visits and clients who knew how the show worked. There is a deep stable of clients the show has worked with, so these periodic “Where are They Now?” specials may be the proper next step. Granted, the shelf life for that type of program is limited, but I hope A&E/Lifetime can do two or three more catchups and give the show a proper send-off.

  1. See also: America’s Most WantedUnsolved MysteriesDrop Dead DivaArmy Wives…maybe it should be renamed Lifeline.  
  2. My guess is that they were B-stories on episodes featuring real Type A-stories.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv