A&E

This Week's Hoarders Is A Real Barn-Burner

The only thing that's going to help some of these people is a good cleansing fire, but even that might not be enough.

Severity of Hoard

Linda feels she has been chosen by God to collect all kinds of junk on her 180-acre farm just in case someone needs it after Armageddon. In terms of sheer square footage, if not general grossness, Linda's hoard is pretty extreme, but honestly, due to the sprawl, the outside parts are not much worse than some of the places you see on American Pickers, which makes me yearn for a crossover episode. While your average doomsday scavenger might have a hard time finding something of value on Linda's property, Mike and Frank could probably dive into the pile and come out with a vintage pedal car or some such craziness.

A&E

A&E

A&E

A&E

Unfortunately, Linda's also one of those hoarders with a food issue, so the indoor component of her hoard is a lot harder to stomach:

A&E

A&E

When Kerry was described in the episode teaser as a "plant hoarder," I was having trouble envisioning what that would entail. Plants pretty much die if you subject them to a Hoarders level of local neglect, which would suggest to me that a plant hoarder would either be maintaining a huge garden or really just hoarding a bunch of pots full of dirt. The actuality of it all is a lot less interesting. I wouldn't categorize Kerry as a "plant hoarder" so much as a "hoarder who also has plants." The requisite piles of random hoarder crap share space with a few racks of well-cared-for houseplants, and he mentions that he's been known to buy a cactus or two off of eBay alongside stuff like forty sleeping bags and a big stack of mint-in-box kitchen appliances.

A&E

A&E

Still, the fact that he can stand in the entryway and gesture wildly with his arms means his hoard is already less intense than most of the hoards featured on this show:

A&E

A&E

(Also, the fact that a plant hoarder is not known as a "hoardiculturist" is a REAL missed opportunity, A&E.)

Severity Score: 12

Relevant Hoarder Backstory

Linda's origins are a relative mystery, apart from the whole divinely-inspired-to-hoard thing. She apparently just inherited her farm one day and immediately commenced filling it up with inventory for her post-apocalyptic dry goods empire. Because God said so.

Retiring from the military, and losing its structures and routines, left Kerry unmoored, which led to losing emotional control, which led to hoarding, which led to the breakup of his family.

Backstory Score: 6

Native Likability of Hoarder

Linda's definitely a lady with a strong sense of style; she's rocking some really amazing vintage earrings:

A&E

A&E

but let's just say you can probably find people you'd rather have a beer with than a wild-eyed crone who never shuts up about the inevitable breakdown of Western civilization.

Kerry, on the other hand, comes across as a fundamentally sweet guy with a lot of issues, and that seems to be how he regards himself as well. Willingness to be helped, self-awareness, and likability are frequently intertwined on this show.

Likability: 11

Anxiety Of Family/Other Enablers

Where most hoarders' families tend to either smile and nod at their loved ones or actively rage against the hoarding, Linda's friends Angela and Dean are not only enabling her, they seem to be actively working with her to build up her hoard. They follow her around the property like baby ducks, all, "Why yes, of course you're right, Linda, this disintegrating piece of carpet would make an absolutely stellar stand-in for twine." In fact, her pals seem to be as heartbroken as she is over the prospect of losing the hoard. It turns out they've got paranoia issues of their own that sit sort of adjacent to Linda's. Angela eventually reasons that clearing out the junk might convince all the government surveillance helicopters to back off, and this actually convinces Linda to throw out 1 (one) trash bag of stuff, so whatever works, I guess.

Similarly, Kerry's ex-wife, Peggy, talks him down from the ledge by convincing him to donate his hoard to Habitat for Humanity, which is probably the equivalent of telling your kids that the family dog went to a farm to run around with other dogs.

Anxiety Score: 13

Inciting Incident

After losing "millions of dollars'" worth of junk after some of it caught fire in one of her barns, the local authorities told Linda she would lose her land if she didn’t clean up.

Kerry's got a similar issue with local authorities, although the bigger problem is that his hoarding led his family to cut him off. Everyone, including Kerry himself, just wants to see him fix the hoard and patch things up.

Incident Score: 7

Assigned Experts

Dr. David Tolin is going to have a hard time making a compelling argument when Linda believes the opposing argument's coming from the Almighty, and while he starts out soft with "I'm interested in talking to you about rotting food," it only takes him about ten minutes to start losing his patience. Cleanup expert Cory Chalmers drops the h-word on her, which causes her to nope on outta there, and, well, he doesn't break a sweat trying to chase after her. I mean, I can't say I blame them, but they didn't exactly pull out all the stops to try and get Linda to un-hoard.

Dr. Melva Green and cleanup guru Erica DiMiele obviously have a much easier task ahead of them. Kerry does seem to have a lot of issues that go far beyond hoarding, though, and both experts tend to speak in pretty broad, general terms about the hoard and not so much about Kerry himself. They seem nice, but he probably needs a little bit more help than he's going to get this episode.

Expert Score: 4

Success Of Cleanup

The setup for Linda's cleanup requires at least three 1-800-GOT-JUNK trucks; the exact number's difficult to determine, since they're traveling in single file to hide their numbers:

A&E

A&E

But it's all for naught in the end. Dr. Tolin and Cory make exactly zero progress with Linda, eventually throwing in the towel. (Said towel then disappears into the abyss of crap.)

Everyone seems initially concerned about the fact that Kerry wants to sell his stuff rather than throw it out, although the fact that he is willing to part with it at all puts him far ahead of most of the other hoarders featured on the show. Kerry is ultimately all too happy to get rid of his hoard, up to and including the hospital gurney he was initially harboring an attachment to. The editors try to build suspense by suggesting that he's going to have a problem losing his beloved plants, but he's pretty easygoing on that front as well. His daughter suggests that he put the plants "under the willow tree," which might also be a euphemism for "going to the farm," but he's happy to go along with whatever. In fact, he even shaves off his beard and gets a haircut:

A&E

A&E

Success Score: 5

Epilogue

To nobody's surprise, Kerry's cleanup has been a total success:

A&E

A&E

And Linda's has...not:

A&E

A&E

But why, Linda? Six months from now when the apocalypse happens, money isn't going to matter anymore!

Epilogue Score: 6

0-39: Noticeable Stack Of Mail

41-79: Upsetting Amount Of Old Periodicals

80-119: Invisible Flooring

120+: Detectable Feces

Final Score: 64

Like a disintegrating pair of old jeans we're keeping just for the snaps and zipper

Almost all readers liked this episode
What did you think?

Discussion

Explore the Hoarders forum or add a comment below.