i know i already blogged about “obsessed”

But here’s a piece I wrote for Public School Intelligentsia that I like. Plus I have this need to have all my writing in one place. OH NOES MAYBE I HAVE OCD.

news_generic_obsessed-300x160Move over Intervention, there’s a new reality show (that I will actually watch and enjoy) on A&E! Obsessed is about people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder who allow themselves to be videotaped and submit to 12 weeks of Cognitive Behavorial Therapy in an effort to get their anxiety down to manageable levels. Meaning, they no longer scrape out their colon with a toothbrush for three hours every time they poop*.

Unlike Intervention, where the subjects are being tricked into the titular confrontation, the people on Obsessed sign themselves up for it. And there’s no “Gotcha!” moment, like the addicts walking into the intervention. This show’s parallel is probably the “exposure” part of therapy, where they’re forced to confront whatever makes them the most anxious. It’s also the part of the show where Dr. Shana, this show’s version of Jeff van Vonderen or Candy Finnegan, really shines. Whether she’s making a patient hold a butcher knife to her (Dr. Shana’s) throat (!!!); or asking “Can I get a 1-10 on vaginal secretions?”, she is Obsessed‘s rock star.

It’s probably no accident that the one patient who seemed to annoy most viewers (judging from the Television Without Pity forum for the show, anyway) may not have been for real. “Rick”, from last week’s episode, is allegedly so terrified of death that he takes several fistfuls of vitamins, runs everywhere, and compulsively works out a bazillion times a day. In his street clothes. He must smell wonderful. Anyway, in the end the the only tic he could manage to give up was his habit of clockwise twirling every time he entered or left a room. He’s like a smelly Eric Zoolander with terrible hairplugs!

But! The crafty commenters at Videogum have uncovered the fact that “Rick” is really Rick Rosner, Professional Crazy Person:

The first comment on yesterday’s Obsessed recap concerned one of the episode’s two subjects, Rick, who, commenter ElBomb noted, is named Rick Rosner and has “a documented history of doing stupid crap to get attention.” His claims of being the smartest man on earth have landed him a Domino’s commercial and multiple appearances on talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. There is indeed a long documentation of Rosner’s stunts, but I couldn’t find anything more compelling than his 2000 appearance on Errol Morris’s documentary TV show First Person, in which he describes his obsession with scars, being too smart for Harvard, and putting himself on a diet of lettuce and dog biscuits, which gave him hemorrhoids so bad he had to wear a maxi pad.

You got punk’d, A&E! Maybe you should put Rick’s face on a urinal cake.

I went into this expecting it to be another gape-at-the-freaks hour of television (I am really a very lovely person), but halfway through the premiere I felt this strange, unfamiliar emotion. It was… sympathy! For people on reality teevee! We’re sold.

*Actually happened!

i can’t believe i haven’t blogged about this yet: “obsessed” (the A&E show, not the lame “fatal attraction” rip-off)

Last week was the premiere of A&E’s new show Obsessed, about people with moderate-to-severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The show focuses on their compulsive behaviors (germphobia, fear of driving, pulling out hair, etc.), and gets them to sumbit to Cognitive Behavorial Therapy, where they confront their triggers in an attempt to normalize their reactions through exposure. It follows a little of the same formula as Intervention, except the patients aren’t being tricked in any way (unlike the addicts on Intervention who think they’re filming a documentary about addiction and don’t know they’re being set up for the titular confrontation). It’s kind of an odd experience seeing people on reality shows that are sympathetic, instead of the famewhores and drugged-out messes that usually populate them. (Although I do empathize with a lot of the addicts on Intervention, it must be admitted that sometimes I just want to smack them. Like Allison the amazing duster-huffer.)

I couldn’t find any clips of last night’s show online, but it featured a young woman named Nicole who had the most seemingly random tics I’ve ever heard of. We’re all familiar with the stereotypes of compulsive handwashing or repeatedly checking to make sure the stove is off. But Nicole had two triggers: She was totally freaked out by her mother’s and brother’s — and ONLY her mother’s and brother’s — hands, especially if they were holding something “softly” or “delicately”. She was eating with her mother, and every time her mother put the fork down on her plate, Nicole would have to pick it back up and BANG! it down on the plate until it “felt right”. She was also extremely bothered by her mother’s “K” sounds, and every time her mother said something with a K or hard C, Nicole would have to make this exaggerated “KCH!” sound in her throat. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the seaon, although I suspect the hair-puller featured in the clip above will have me cringing non-stop. But I hope the show can bring attention to OCD and show that it’s a disorder that can seriously affect the quality of the sufferer’s lives. It’s certainly not cute or funny, like Monk. (I actually enjoyed the first couple seasons of Monk, which clearly showed how lonely and isolated the disorder made Monk feel. But it eventually descended into broad laugh-at-the-freak comedy, and I stopped watching it.)