Every week, television documentaries present us with so many unusual people, with so many strange and/or disturbing problems, you might find it hard to keep up with all of them. That's where I come in! Here's an unflinching look back at TV's Week in Freak Shows.
19 Kids and Counting (TLC)
Who Is This Now? Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.
Why Are We Watching Them? They're on their way to address the 2012 Love for Life conference.
How Did They Get Here? They have an actually absurd number of children (19), which means that they've become "experts" on family life.
What's the Grossest Thing We See? While in D.C., the Duggars hook up with evangelical celebrity/noted bigot Kirk Cameron at Ben's Chili Bowl. The chili looks pretty rank, but it's not as revolting as Jim Bob's blatant starf–ing (he makes sure to say Cameron's full name every time, though presumably Cameron and the Duggars are friends or at least friendly), or Cameron's grin as he encourages another Ben's patron to sing the Growing Pains theme song to him.
What Have We Learned? Kirk Cameron's son plays bass, which I hope means that he's cultivated enough to save himself from getting wedgied for his father's embarrassing public statements.
Beverly Hills Nannies (ABC Family)
Who Is This Now? Kristin.
Why Are We Watching Her? Her attempt to be the empress of a nanny "society" in Beverly Hills is failing.
How Did She Get Here? She burned a bridge with one nanny, Amber, even saying Amber is dead to her. When Amber showed up at a birthday party Kristin was sharing with two friends — one of whom invited Amber — Kristin was so unable to be civil or reasonable that she turned several of their common nanny friends against her. And now that another nanny, Maggie, has been fired by Ali (the client to whom Kristin sent Maggie), Ali is threatening to spread the word about Kristin's poor recommendation.
What's the Grossest Thing We See? Admittedly, it was a bad idea for Maggie to have three-to-four drinks when she was out to dinner with her employers. But for them to fire her because she admits she doesn't want to have kids is unfair: Lots of very qualified child care professionals don't have kids (including the greatest one of all, Jo "Supernanny" Frost!). Anyway, it tells the viewer a lot about what kind of person Kristin is that she gets so freaked out by Ali that she ends her friendship with Maggie, when she and Maggie have been friends for 20 years.
What Have We Learned? More people should have watched Beverly Hills Nannies so that we could have all talked about what a monster Kristin is.
The Week The Women Went (Lifetime)
Who Is This Now? Tammy.
Why Are We Watching Her? She's finally having a conversation with her son Justin's fiancée, Amy, about the couple's engagement.
How Did She Get Here? A reality TV production removed Amy, Tammy, and all the other women in their town of Yemassee, South Carolina, to a Florida resort to see how the men fared when left alone with their homes and children; Justin proposed to Amy right before she got on the bus to leave.
What's the Grossest Thing We See? Tammy is so cold that even her friend emphatically says, "I would not want Tammy Lane for my mother-in-law," but I guess that's not "gross," per se. What is gross is when Tammy notes that she and Amy will see Justin the next day, and Amy jokes, "Can I have the first hug?," and Tammy shuts her down immediately and then gives an interview in which she describes how affronted she was at the suggestion that her son's fiancée should enjoy physical affection with him before his mother does.
What Have We Learned? 1) Tammy is in really deep denial about her Oedipal issues, and 2) Regardless of what Tammy wants, Justin and Amy should get married right away and move out of state.
I Was Impaled (Discovery Fit & Health)
Who Is This Now? Kirsty.
Why Are We Watching Her? The show's called I Was Impaled, so guess.
How Did She Get Here? She was leaving her boyfriend's house when she lost her footing and fell onto a spiked, cast-iron fence post, face-first.
What's the Grossest Thing We See? A shot of Kirsty after first responders had used a hacksaw to remove the spike from the fence, but before she went into surgery, shows the bottom of the spike protruding just a little from her chin. Then one of her doctors explains that the spike had impaled her tongue and hard palate, with the very tip ending up in her eye socket (missing her eyeball by one-eighth of an inch).
What Have We Learned? All of this happened in Scotland, and Kirsty got through it without any lasting damage, so people who denigrate the NHS are full of it. Socialized medicine for the win!
Who Is This Now? Debra.
Why Are We Watching Her? She's finally bowing to the six other people who share her home and considering cleaning up her enormous hoard of stuff.
How Did She Get Here? "My hobby's kind of shopping."
What's the Grossest Thing We See? It was a tie between Debra's admission that she "really didn't ever like boys" (which one of her FOUR sons overhears), and the "DO NOT FLUSH THE TOILET" sign written on a paper plate and taped over the commode. Then Debra reacted to the cleaning crew's generous home makeover (fresh paint in several rooms — not standard for a Hoarders clean-up) by saying she hates it. That's not my interpretation, by the way. "I hate it" is a direct quote.
What Have We Learned? When Debra needs help again in the future — and it seems inevitable that she will — the people in her life may be less inclined to give it after this display.
Tara Ariano has never had her tongue punctured by a cast-iron spike, but she has had lots of canker sores, so she gets it.