Wiggin’ out about TV

OK, so everyone has their quirks that they don’t like to admit. But most likely even the weirdest of habits you have don’t compare to the people featured on TLC’s, “My Strange Addiction.”

Now in it’s fourth season, the show has featured every type of weird, gross, mind-boggling addiction you can think of, and I’m sure they won’t stop there.

We’ve seen semi-normal addictions, such as thumbsuckers and crazy cat ladies, but the 2014 season has brought some strange things to viewers’ attention. Someone from Williamsport was even featured on the show – a woman who sniffs gas obsessively.

My favorite so far has to be “The Mattress Eater” from this season, who has consumed about a square foot of mattress a day for more than 20 years. While “Jennifer” doesn’t state anything traumatic going on that led to her beginning this strange obsession, she does say she craves it the most after having sex, which seems a little too convenient. Her family speaks of her sneaking in their rooms and eating their mattresses and they also state that she clogs the toilet on a regular basis from the foam that isn’t being digested.

Jennifer does see a doctor who harshly warns her that this behavior is going to kill her, and she needs to stop now. The reality check seems to bring her “food” choices into perspective, and she vows to change her ways. After that though, TLC doesn’t really show her trying to quit, and we are left with the hope that Jennifer will stop eating mattresses.

That’s one thing about “My Strange Addiction” – they present the problem, but never give a solution. Some of the episodes are very real diseases, such as ones dealing with trichotillomania (a compulsive urge to eat or pull out one’s hair) to serious body issues. In the “Living Doll” episode, one of the girls even admits she eats little portions to stay as perfect and tiny as a doll. There is a woman who is addicted to plastic surgery, having breasts that could potentially collapse her rib cage because they are so large, and a man who has set out to become a human Ken doll.

These are obviously people dealing with something bigger than a “hobby.” And to present it in a manner that these people are actually funny, and we can find humor out of their serious problems is a little unsettling. Some of the “addictions” seem too funny to be true as well. There’s a man who is in a romantic relationship with his car, another man who is in love with his blow-up pool toys such as dolphins, and a woman who eats her cat’s hair and also grooms it as well. It’s hard to believe that some of the people act like they don’t have a problem and I’m certain every single case shown needs a severe reality check.

But it works for TLC. Shock value is absolutely what’s keeping this show alive. But as long as there are people willing to show their “dirty little secrets,” TLC will give them their 15 minutes of fame.

“My Strange Addiction” is on TLC, 10 p.m. Wednesdays.

Bethany Wiegand is a Sun-Gazette Lifestyle and Entertainment reporter. She can be reached at bwiegand@sungazette.com.