Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hoarder Hannah

I accidentally watched Hoarders this week. Actually, I accidentally DVR’d the new episode. In fact, I accidentally set up a series recording so I can watch every new episode of Hoarders.

I don’t know why I voluntarily watch television programming that makes me feel physically ill.

This Monday’s episode featured Gary and Hannah, two hoarders who both have an issue with keeping too many animals on their properties. Gary owns too many bunnies and has turned his entire home into one giant bunny cage, using his collection as a means of controlling both his house and his wife. There are dozens of rabbits running up and down the hallways, pooping in the bathroom sink and peeing on the walls. His poor wife has to use a cane and maneuvers through the house cautiously and slowly, taking great pains not to trip over a bunny or piece of trash.

“Making her walk through the house is a great workout for her!” he chuckles into the camera, four of his five chins quivering in agreement.

Meanwhile, over in Illinois, Hannah lives in a single-wide trailer and keeps dozens of chickens, goats and other various barnyard animals as prisoners pets. "Cotton picking, ridge runner, stock jumper and damn proud of it," she boasts, much to the viewers' confusion. What does that even mean? Is that a declarion of your occupation or just a bunch or words you stranded together?

Inside her broken down trailer are cages filled with chickens that are so crowded the birds can hardly move. Chicken manure, as they call it, is everywhere (I can’t put enough emphasis on that). Watching Hannah sit down on a bucket to eat eggs and drink milk surrounded by feces and a dead chicken in the windowsill was one of the most nauseating experiences of my life. You can't unsee something like that.

I find Hannah slightly more fascinating than Gary (and quite frankly I fast-forwarded through Gary’s scenes) because Hannah totally believes that her trailer is a perfectly acceptable living environment for her pets. She thinks they’re safe and protected, and the fact that there are at least five dead chickens on the floor means nothing to her. “Does your mom hoard dead animals?” Dr. Zasio asks in wide-eyed disbelief when she discovers a dead chicken in a covered box.

At the beginning of the episode, two of Hannah’s daughters admit that they and the rest of their siblings were severely abused as children. They were taken away from Hannah several years ago and are heartbroken and shocked at how their mother lives today. They fear for her health and even though none of them particularly like her, they want her to get help. Geeze, I can’t imagine WHY they don’t like Hannah.

When asked about her children, Hannah proudly boasts: “I had 16 children and 10 of them are still alive!”

Well, I guess that is something to be proud of.

And having her children removed from her custody ain’t no thang to Lady Hannah. “I was doing just fine before they were born and I’ll be fine until I’m dead!” she declares with conviction.

Man, you simply cannot argue with that kind of logic.

But never in my wildest dreams did I expect half of her still-alive children to show up at her trailer and start physically fighting.

Has this show been nominated for an Emmy? (Update: It has!)

This Hannah is a firecracker. She has an argument for EVERYTHING. An animal control person told Hannah that she had to take her ducks out of their wire cage and put them in a pond or buy some kind of body of water or else they will DIE. They told her that ducks cannot stand on wire cages because it causes a lot of damage and inflammation to their webbed feet. One mallard’s feet were so infected that he could only move by scooting his body across the floor.

“I DON’T WANT THEM IN NO WATER TO SWIM! THEN ALL OF MY FEEDING THEM WILL BE FOR NOTHIN’!”

That's not a valid point, Hannah. 

Overall, it was insanely heartbreaking to see the conditions these animals are forced to live in. Hannah is severely ignorant to what is going on in her life, and I think it’s unfair that these animals are the ones who are ultimately going to suffer. If Hannah wants to hang out in feces, that’s her prerogative, but the animals didn’t choose this. No animal chooses to be caged up with inflamed feet, missing feathers, and zero access to a healthy enviroment.

There was very little the Hoarders team could do for Hannah. She flat-out refused to accept help and went ballistic (again, I can’t emphasize it enough) when it was suggested the chickens be removed from the trailer and taken to a vet. Most of them were sick and/or dying (one of which died moments after they loaded it into a car which really pissed off Hannah for some reason), but Hannah was screaming and shoving people to leave her alone. The animal control people were from out-of-state and legally could not take the animals off her property.

So, Hannah is more than likely still sitting on a bucket in her kitchen eating eggs right this very second, but now there are probably even more dead chickens in the window sill.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of Hoarders is. Is it to draw awareness to the problem or to exploit the people who are suffering from the mental illness? As entertaining as the show is, I do pray that these people ultimately get the help they need to conquer their hoarding and work through the deep-seeded issues that caused it in the first place. We watch the show in shock, horror and disgust, and I honestly don't know if that is making the problem worse. But at least it does give me something to blog about ...


I just saw the preview for the season finale of Hoarders. The preview claims, "This is the worst. hoard. ever." (and judging by the dramatic pauses betwen the words, I'm pretty sure they aren't lying). But seriously, how can you top Hannah?

How about a man with so many rats that you can't see his floor?

Rat guy wins.

I'll recap it for you next Monday.

7 comments:

  1. I watched this last night via Comcast On-Demand. I love watching shows that deal with hording and OCD even though it makes me feel a bit freaked out. These people have serious problems and it is sad to see them in those situations. But this particular episode was just really bizarre! I was pretty much having constant anxiety throughout the show. I can't believe the damage these people have caused to others and other's property. I recommend people watch shows like this so it helps to understand those situations better.

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  2. Agreed, this was a particularly disturbing episode. All three of them need professional help (institutionalization), but Hannah especially. Just take the animals and bulldoze the place.

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  3. At least the rat guy seemed just legitimately overwhelmed by the situation, and was quite happy and even relieved to see the rats go to a better home. Initially the bunny guy seemed like that too, but it quickly became apparant that he was really angry, immature, and not nearly as aware of the disgusting condition in his house as he should have been. And I just couldn't believe how indignant and nasty the chicken woman was.

    Strangely enough, I have no problem eating and watching hoarders, you'd think it would turn me off my stomach to see all the feces, animal death, and rotten moldy food. The only thing that kind of turned my stomach was when they held up a rabbit and said, "yep, see that? That right there? That's it's guts coming up. Yep, GUTS! Right there, see?" Yes, I see the guts, put that away!

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  4. I'm watching a re-run of this show now and my jaw simply HIT THE FLOOR! I had to google "Hanna + hoarder" just to see what the rest of the world had to say about this. I mean the whole world has seen this right? The whole world needs to see this right?
    I am so lost for words on Hanna. I'm just shaking my head but I cannot stop watching and I cannot stop feeling sorry for the poor animals.

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  5. I hope Hannah has been properly diagnosed and put in an assylum. Our country used to care for these people but now it seems they are just left to fend for themselves when clearly they are not able to function; hurting family and animals in the process.

    The show should have a zero tolerance to cruelty to animals. That was clearly the case with Hannah and if I was the shows producer I would have admitted that I made the call to Animal Control. Animals that are caged are to be treated with the upmost care, no exception.

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  6. Um, I'm a Hannah from Illinois and would like to state VERY clearly for the record that I am ABSOLUTELY not a hoarder. Take that.

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  7. Hannah and all her nastiness reminded of my mother. Weight and all. I was livid by the end of the show.

    On a much brighter note... I found your blog and after reading all your well articulated funny wonderfulness I feel much better now

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