‘Strange’ But True: TV’s Obsession With Bizarre Lifestyles

"Jazz" sinks her fingernails into some lobster and crab claws on "My Strange Addiction" (Photo: TLC)

Something strange is going on here. And it’s not just on the TLC series with the word “Strange” in the title.

That show is “My Strange Addiction,” which returns for its second season Sunday night (July 17) on TLC with more strange-but-true stories of human obsession. Front and center on the season premiere: A woman named Jazz who is obsessed with (or possibly addicted to) growing her fingernails. She’s 48 and hasn’t trimmed her nails for 22 years, TLC tells us. Her longest one is 24 inches. Tally up the lengths of all her fingernails and you get somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 feet of them, TLC assures us.

On the show – airing at 10/9c on TLC – you’ll see how difficult it is for Jazz to execute everyday tasks such as tying her shoes or typing on a computer keyboard. Apparently, Jazz’s obsession with her nails has proven irksome to her husband, who complains that Jazz pays more attention to her nails than to him. This sounds like a job for “The Marriage Ref” on NBC, but we suppose the producers of “My Strange Addiction” learned about this couple first and here is where they wound up.

Wanna see something strange? Then watch this clip from “My Strange Addiction” here:

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And while 24-inch fingernails are certainly strange, this nail tale is just one of many strange and bizarre stories and characters you’re seeing on TV these days. “My Strange Addiction” might possibly be the strangest of all these new “strange” TV shows, with its depictions of ordinary folks who are addicted to eating cigarette butts or spoonfuls of laundry detergent or the most off-putting story we’ve seen on this show – the woman addicted to scab-picking.

So what’s so strange? Well, it really comes down to this: From scab-picking to 24-inch nails to toddlers in beauty pageants, there seems to be nothing TV won’t show us these days. On that subject, we’ve been compiling a list of TV’s weirdest shows in our heads, with “My Strange Addiction” at the top of our list. What are some of the other shows?

Here’s a quick rundown:

“Hoarders” (Mondays, 9/8c, A&E): Here’s our strange addiction – this over-the-top series about mentally disturbed people who fill their houses to the ceiling with trash. We can’t get enough of this show.

“Toddlers & Tiaras” (Wednesdays, 10/9c, TLC): This show gets more extreme every season, or so it seems to us. This season, there’s even some little boys competing in these little-girl beauty pageants. Frankly, we’re finding this show a tad too icky to watch lately – and that’s saying a lot.

Watch a clip from “Toddlers & Tiaras”:

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“Hillbilly Handfishin’ ” (premieres Sunday, Aug. 7, 10/9c, Animal Planet): This upcoming series showcasing people who grab big ugly fish by hand and then pull them to the surface seemingly for the sole purpose of displaying them on TV is part of a new, growing trend we like to call “Men vs. Critters.” You’re seeing a lot of this lately – people chasing wild pigs through the woods (Discovery’s “Hogs Gone Wild,” for example), people trapping ’gators and other wildlife on all these swamp shows (“Swamp People” on History Channel, “Swamp Brothers” on Discovery), and Animal Planet’s “River Monsters,” another hand-fishin’ show. Our question is: Why are so many people bothering all these animals in the first place? Hey, you hillbilly handfisherman: How ’bout leaving these poor fish alone?

“Whisker Wars” (premieres Friday, Aug. 5, 11/10c, IFC): Attention, fingernail fanatics: You’re going to meet your match with this series from “Deadliest Catch” producer Thom Beers about men who are obsessed with growing the most flamboyant beards and mustaches that a man can grow and then competing for Best in Show.

We’ll say this: TV never ceases to amaze us. And the way things are going, there won’t be a human behavior under the sun that won’t eventually get a TV show.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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