Friday, June 4, 2010

"Hoarders" can't stack up to "OCD Project's" humanity

Joanne Ostrow

If you've seen one hoarder, you've got the idea.

As the A&E series makes clear, there's a deep-seated inability to let go that typifies those out-of-control collectors of junk and daily ephemera. It's a real pathology, but it's not ideally suited to television. "Hoarders," in its second season, tends to be repetitious.

The camera wallows in the accumulation and records the interpersonal angst the mess causes; an intervention by a therapist helps reveal the illness and remove some of the clutter. The letting go is considered a breakthrough, a professional organizer sometimes helps with logistics, and the crew moves on.

That's not how "The OCD Project" on VH1 works. This new series bears all the hallmarks of obscenely voyeuristic "reality TV" — including a house temporarily shared by eccentric characters caught at their worst — but then it takes a turn. You think it's going to mark a new low in titillating TV, and it ends up being surprisingly (perish the thought) educational.

"The OCD Project" airs in a three-hour prime-time block on Thursdays, with repeats including today at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m. An array of symptoms is dealt with one by one, as six patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders endure what the host/therapist David Tolin promises will be "the toughest three weeks of their lives."

Tolin is a board-certified clinical psychologist, founder of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital. He teaches psychiatry at Yale's School of Medicine and has a recurring gig on "Hoarders."

As a cable TV host, he's direct, forceful and telegenic in a tough-love way..." More

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