It may feel like the days of truly exploitative trash reality TV are behind us, the first half of the decade, there were countless shows like Hoarders and Intervention airing on an endless loop on basic cable. While most of these shows are no longer in production, they’re still readily available (and wildly popular) on streaming services, through both legal and less legal means. While bingeable, they remain voyeuristic looks at people who are careening towards rock bottom, often leaving a sort of icky feeling in viewers with any self-awareness.
One standout series from this reality subgenre is TLC’s My Strange Addiction, a show that shares some subject material with Intervention, the tone couldn’t be more different. It’s more lighthearted, less dire; most of the folks on the show are otherwise pretty normal, clear-headed people. While it sometimes tips over into the exploitation vibes referenced above, featuring people with true physical addictions, the majority of the episodes feature people with unusual but not especially dangerous fetishes, eating habits, and hobbies. Admittedly I haven’t done a ton of self-examination surrounding my fascination with this show, I feel relatively comfortable with the fact that I’ve seen every episode of this show, most several times.
My favorite segment of My Strange Addiction is from an episode called “Addicted To Coffee Enemas / Licks Cats”. It’s all there in the title: half the episode is about a couple that live in Florida and use an enema kit to put warm (not hot) coffee in their butts, to the chagrin of their children, family, and friends. They lay on their bathroom floor and pour a bucket full of coffee into themselves, sometimes up to four times daily. It’s weird, it’s gross, but it could be worse, you know? The reveal, after the intro focused on Trina’s love for the enemas, that Mike does them too? Pure comedy. If you’re not on board after this clip, there’s no helping you.
Earlier this year, my cat passed away due to lung cancer. After getting home from the vet that last time, there wasn’t much I felt like doing. Most TV felt like a burden, even sitcom comfort food like Parks & Rec felt too emotionally taxing. I was clicking around, looking for something distracting to watch. You cannot imagine the wave of emotion I felt upon discovering that My Strange Addiction was streaming on Hulu. My partner and I spent the rest of the night watching My Strange Addiction, revisiting our old friends like Nicole, who liked to dress up as an S&M horse (she calls it “Pony Play”) and Lacey, who compulsively smells the disembodied head of her doll Suzie Q. Visiting with these weirdos was a great way to take my mind off of everything else going on. Sure, it’s trash, but it feels like my trash.