Hoardersverse: CAROL

i think i just watched a robbery

TELEVISIONDOCUMENTARYREALITYELLA THOMPSON

Ella Thompson

5/8/20225 min read

I’m typically a Kitchen Nightmares or Hotel Hell girlie when it comes to a solid background show when I’m working. To my surprise, I branched out in 2020. I became a Hoarders girlie.

Hoarders is frequently a very intriguing yet desperately sad series. The condition of hoarding is something that people rarely recover from or overcome, and it can stem from any number of other mental illnesses, family situations, or traumatic events. People suffering from hoarding can deal with a lot of embarrassment and shame, often destroying their relationships with family and friends. On the other hand, there are times when people’s friends or family don’t even know that they have an issue.

The Hoarders crew is typically summoned when a hoarding situation reaches a final tipping point - the city threatens to kick them out, the hoarder’s health is perilous, and so on. A doctor and hoarding specialist are on set along with a cleaning crew specializing in hoarding. Despite the turmoil that occurs in these episodes trying to clean out these residences, you get a lot of wholesome stories and great characters.

And for season 11 episode 1, we certainly got one of those. I’ve seen some crazy and sad stuff on this show, but this season premiere took 20 minutes to get through the family introduction. Probably the most memorable episode of all. Without further ado...Carol.

carol

TW: mentions of suicide

A three-story historic home in Ferguson, Missouri. Wife to Dave. Stepmom. A musician and artist who has hoarded this entire mansion by herself. Self-proclaimed family villain - and she’s right. It’s clear that Carol no longer has all cylinders totally running, but her character and long-carried resentment is still very clear.

The home, circa 1905 and formerly very well cared for and decorated, is now a massive fire hazard that doesn’t meet code and is killing Dave - the oldest son and local fire chief, Kevin, has called for help to prevent his childhood home from being seized by the city. It used to be the home of Dave and Be and, according to everyone interviewed, the spot to hang out in town. They had an open-door policy and were very popular people. Carol was their best friend. She hid it really well according to people who knew her but Be massively struggled with bipolar disorder. It came to a point after being hospitalized for observation that she ended up taking her own life.

Carol moved into the house within 48 hours of Be’s death under the guise of taking care of Dave. Then she started using Be’s credit cards - and then she married Dave a year and a half after Be’s death.

The kids didn’t attend and the family separated as Carol doesn’t let people visit the home. Somewhere in that time, Carol’s hoarding got out of control. Dave is frequently in ill health and has given up while Carol, someone with a strong and controlling personality, has refinanced the house, taken out a second mortgage, and left financial ruin in her wake. They don’t pay bills or make repairs - the city will condemn the home if things aren’t fixed.

So, for the first time in a long time, the family has come home. Dave lives in a tiny spot surrounded by piles of things and mouse traps in the living room. The kids hate Carol 100%.

the hoard

I think it’s important to note people’s feelings about the first wife’s suicide were unfairly taken out (to a degree) on Carol - Dave is also at fault for marrying her and giving up. And certainly, after such a shocking and tumultuous event, it would be difficult to see someone trying to step into Be’s shoes so soon. This is also a mixture of a documentary and a reality show, so things could certainly be more dramatized than they really are. It certainly holds the potential for a hoarding personality to come out full force. But here, this woman is wild and so are her actions.

It’s natural to feel sympathy for people with this condition when watching the show because it is very sad and difficult; here, I felt no such thing. I just couldn’t feel bad for her. There was no ounce of shame at any point of this episode despite the elder abuse or the money handling. She seems like such a suspicious and narcissistic character.

I also still have so many questions, like: what was Carol so worried about them finding on the second floor? Where is Be’s side of the family? If Carol was no longer living there and they hate her so much, why didn't they just throw everything out themselves? Suppose what Carol did is classified as financial abuse - the family seems to have known about it for a while, why didn’t they take action sooner? Lots of dots don’t connect for me.

Carol, Dave, and Be were best friends - I have to wonder if Carol had any regrets after moving in. I’m struggling to understand how anyone could stomach doing something like that so quickly. It’s a bizarre way to grieve if that’s what it was. It’s easy to see how Be’s death changed everyone in the family. Dorothy, the clean-up team leader and probably my favorite castmember, emphasized how Carol said she’d fought tooth and nail for everything she’d ever had. She’s always had some hoarding tendencies but left unchecked they were unleashed in full force.

Carol was seen driving Be’s car around town shortly after Be’s death. After that is when the children discovered the financial actions Carol had taken - it’s very odd and very sad. Did she consider this marriage her next tooth and nail fight to get what she wants? She comes off as very opportunistic. That’s not always bad, but in her case, it manifested in a very evil way. Both Dave and Carol have passed away since this episode - Dave before it even aired.

There are many hard-to-watch episodes of this show because this is a very hard-to-watch illness.

It spans from animal and child abuse (unintentional or not, that’s what it is) to infestations to disease. There are episodes of doomsday hoarders, people whose friends have no idea they’re hoarding, and even people that were formerly incredibly successful but have now trapped themselves in a hoard. Sometimes it’s too sad and I go back to Hotel Hell.

More than 19 million people suffer from hoarding to some degree - even people perfectly capable everywhere else in their life. The show has certainly exposed me to people and situations I wouldn’t have known about or understood otherwise. There’s extreme nuance to this disorder.