It's here at last, my fellow Americans: a television series catering to both our love of animals and our voracious appetite for shows about hoarding. Although I am a dog lover myself, I'll never have to worry about hoarding as long as my faithful sidekick Maury the Wonder Chibeagle is still alive. Maury is generally a sweet-tempered boy, but the presence of other animals tends to turn him into a 12-pound version of Frank Booth from Blue Velvet, which means he's destined to be an only pet as long as I'm calling the shots.
This also means Maury wouldn't fare too well with Bonnie, the first of the hoarders we meet in this new Animal Planet series. Animal hoarding, you may not realize, "is a compulsive need to possess and control animals. It is a dysfunctional behavior with no known diagnosis or treatment." In the case of Bonnie, an obese older lady beset by health problems, this dysfunction has resulted in a house of horrors, which she shares with her elderly mother, two 40-ish sons (one of whom lives in the basement and is painfully aware he's not primo dating material), and seemingly dozens of dogs. Since Bonnie doesn't let the dogs go outside for fear they'll be captured or killed, this means her floors, furniture and carpets are all caked with piss and shit. Over repulsive footage of Bonnie scraping and chopping at the mounds of poop, we learn that she suffers from diabetes and asthma, conditions that are not improved by the state of her home. (For one thing, she has to sleep in oxygen mask.)
Elsewhere in crazyland we find Don, whose wife has recently suffered from kidney failure and has therefore moved in with their daughter to get away from the deplorable condition of their cat-infested house. Don is a former drug addict who spent time in jail after a DUI, then cleaned up his act, if not his home, which is coated from floor to ceiling with feline urine and feces. Don can't bring himself to get rid of the cats (or drown them in a sack, as a neighbor suggests) despite the fact that his wife's absence is making him miserable.
After wallowing in these two stinkholes for far too long, the show finally reveals two very different outcomes: Bonnie's family surprises her with an intervention, after which she very reluctantly agrees to have a doggie-door installed so her critters can answer nature's call in the great outdoors. Don, on the other hand, finally calls Animal Control, who enter the house in biohazard suits to remove the cats. (This sequence contains the feel-good moment of the episode, as one of the agents finds a decomposing kitty skeleton in one of the crap-crammed crawlspaces.) So two different happy endings…I guess?
I confess, I don't really see the appeal of this sort of cringe television, but if you like depressing shows about mentally ill people, well, here's another one. I guess I do feel better about having a little dog hair on the couch - I mean, at least my place isn't piled high with vomit-covered feces cakes - but that's not much of a recommendation, is it?