Hoarders Season 6 Episode 11 Review: Merlene and Jeff
Jan 21 2013 10:51 pm CET

Monday's edition of Hoarders featured a former international supermodel overcoming her anxieties and a jazz musician/ladies man trying to bring some organization back into his life. Zasio, Green, Cory and Dorothy are on the case.

Client A: Merlene - Topanga, CA - former international supermodel

Merlene's troubles began shortly after the birth of her daughter Celeste. Merlene's husband David Lear, of the Lear Jet Lears, started stepping out on her and they soon divorced. Since then, Merlene became, in her words, "the worst hoarder on the plaent Earth." She describes herself as a collector, but her entire house is filled with everything. When Celeste was a teenager, she was not allowed to bring friends over and was ultimately tossed out when she took it upon herself to throw out some coat hangers and tupperware.

Dorothy Breininger visits Merlene in this episode's embed segment. Unlike the ones with Matt Paxton where he sleeps on a pile of trash while rats and bugs nibble on him, Dorothy joins Merlene on one of her nightly dumpster dives. Merlene goes through a dumpster testing out discarded pens and pulling out the recyclables. Dorothy also notices Merlene watering a random nearby plant, causing the organizer to wonder how that energy and time could otherwise be spent. They return to the house to make a meal on the gas stove which is completely surrounded by paper and plastic bags. Dorothy calls the kitchen a fire trap, which Merlene had never previously considered. Dorothy relays all of this to Melva Green.

Client B: Jeff - Chattanooga, Tennessee - musician / former shoe salesman

Jeff is a trumpeter trying to find his big break in music. Back in the day he was a shoe salesman but left the business when his shop went under. While on a trip to Nashville to do some recording, his previous house caught fire and he lost everything. Since then, he has kept everything in his house to make sure it doesn't get damaged or stolen. All of that extra stuff has made living in the house impossible, so Jeff has relied on his lady-friends to provide accommodations. His former girlfriend (now best friend) Deborah has put up with this, but wants a change. Also, an online collaborator named Camilla visited Jeff at home and was shocked by the sight.

Robin Zasio stops by the house to inspect the situation. In the entry way, she claims to be overwhelmed by the fumes from the gas cans and lawnmowers hanging out in the living room. Also, Jeff's bedroom has been converted to an all-in-one, with all sources of entertainment, comfort and outside contact are confined to a limited area. Cory Chalmers is in charge of the cleanup for this case. Deborah will be the voice of reason: "he's a grown-ass man, he need to get past this bullshit."

What's intriguing about both of these cases is how deep below the surface the problems are. In Jeff's case, there does not seem to be any obvious trigger or anxiety that is usually in play with clients. Merlene, on the other hand, triggers almost instantly as the process begins, but the depths of her anxiety are almost unfathomable. Throughout the cleanup, Jeff smiles and nods and is trying to please everyone while Merlene can barely function and struggles to comprehend the situation.

However, because Merlene has obvious triggers, it makes measuring the progress easier. She eventually relents and her house gets almost completely cleared out. She also seems to be on the path of reconciliation with her daughter. As can be expected, her post-script indicated she is still struggling emotionally, but there seemed to be optimism that more progress could be made.

As for Jeff, Cory and Zasio both had negative prognoses for the musician. Midway through the cleanup, Jeff acknowledged he let things out of the house without thinking and started to re-collect things from the truck. Cory suspects he will continue to make poor decisions. Zasio's concern is that Jeff has a lack of insight and, though his intentions are good, Jeff does not have any sort of long-term strategy. In the end, only two rooms get cleared out.

Although the two cases in this episode are intriguing, neither leaves a strong impression. Considering the show just came back from a second mini-hiatus, this was a bit of a letdown considering some of the cases featured so far. I did like how the embed segment dealt more with "a day in the life" than the impossible sleepovers that have previously been presented. Although the hoards were both massive, neither was disgusting – no poop mountains or vermin overloading. The emphasis for both cases concerned fire safety, which also brought some unity to the narratives. Neither client was unlikeable, but that may have minimized the drama in the overall presentation. I'm giving this episode a B-, though if it were not a return from hiatus I would probably give it a B.

Mike McComb – TVLatest.com

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