There’s a new show on Syfy called Collection Intervention starring Elyse Luray, who goes around to out-of-control collectors and tries to get them to sell off parts of their collection. So far, she’s talked to crazy Barbie collectors, over-the-top Star Wars collectors, massive comic collectors etc.
But in watching the show, I’ve realized that she’s really not a collector, or doesn’t seem to understand collectors, she’s used to dealing with investors. All she tells these people is how much it’s worth and how they ought to get rid of things. That’s just not the collector mentality. She seems utterly clueless and doesn’t comprehend that the vast majority of collectors just don’t care what their collections are worth because they’re never going to sell them!
Now myself, I am a collector. I collect things. I do not do it because someday I’m going to get a payday when I auction it all off, I will never sell a single piece of my collection in my lifetime at any price. I’m just not interested. If she came here, I’d tell her to get stuffed. I don’t need her because I don’t have a problem.
My wife knew I was a collector when we met. She’s a collector too. She understands me. I understand her. Neither of us is out of control and both of us have realistic expectations.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who have problems, but it isn’t a problem with collecting, it’s a problem with not knowing when to stop. It’s a problem with self-control. Now if she actually wanted to curate people’s collections, help them focus their collections, help them organize their collections, I wouldn’t say. A lot of these people really do need help in that direction and they may find, in the organization of said collection, that they have some elements that could be sold off. That part is fine, but when you walk in the door and immediately declare half of this collection has got to go, that’s stupid.
The other big problem that I see in most of these cases is that the spouse/significant other really is a jerk. Let’s be honest, these people should not be together. Collectors and non-collectors just don’t work most of the time. They are fundamentally different and they will never truly understand each other. A collector has a drive to collect. It’s something inside of them. It will never go away. They should never be asked to get rid of their collection, yet that’s exactly what every single one of these non-collector mates want. When I watched the episode with the guy who had 30,000 comics, his fiance was a total bitch at the beginning. It’s not like she didn’t know he was a comic collector, she has no room to complain because she made the decision to move in with him. My solution to that problem immediately would have been “pack your bags and get out bitch”. She did improve toward the end when she saw him struggling, but I still don’t give them a very high chance of a long-term relationship. She just doesn’t understand what drives him.
The show would be much better if, instead of Elyse trying to get people to part with their collections, it was a show about organizing and understanding their collections. It should be a show about “wow, look at what you’ve got here!” and not about “how much can you sell it for?” This isn’t “Collection Intervention”, it’s “Collection Destruction”.
I was going to evaluate Elyse’s “advice” from the website, but I think a better way is to just look at the cases in detail, since we’re only 3 episodes in and 6 actual cases. So here we go:
The first episode started with Consetta and Garet, whose Star Wars collection went wild and consumed their lives. Yes, they have a lot of stuff and it does take up every square inch of their house, but I’m not convinced the answer is to start selling things. The collection didn’t seem to be causing any problems, except for space. There didn’t seem to be any monetary issues or relationship issues, a better solution, IMO, would have been to sign a deal with, say, Rancho Obi-Wan, to display portions of the collection. Consetta could have loaned items to the museum on a rotating basis, which would have cleared up space in her house. When things come back, more things go out. There was no need to sell things, just because Elyse said so.
The second part was a Catwoman collector, Mark, whose wife, Lolly, was upset because he was amassing a huge collection. Now here, I will agree with Elyse that he had to sell some things because he was driving the couple into bankruptcy. You have to be financially responsible for your life, you can’t just buy things because you want them and go into debt. However, this is where we first see a non-collector wife becoming a problem. She doesn’t understand her husband. Then why in the world did she marry him?!?!? He had to hide all of his collectibles in the garage because she didn’t get why he collected. Another marriage destined for failure.
Moving to the second episode, we start off with Beverly, a fanatical Barbie collector. Again, Elyse immediately starts pushing her to sell things and only focusing on things that are worth big bucks. She’s filled up the closets of her sons with Barbies and they’re complaining. Well here’s an idea, over-18 sons, why don’t you go get your own places? I kind of doubt you’re paying rent. Eventually, she starts getting rid of some of her contemporary items when she realizes she’s not that interested in them, which nets her a Barbie #1.
Second, we get Jack, fanatical Hot Wheel and G.I. Joe collector and his bitchy wife Debbie, who wants him to get rid of it. Elyse suggests they drag his collection out onto the lawn to take a look at it and doesn’t understand that he doesn’t want his collection exposed to the elements, particularly the beating sun which fades colors. Even after she agrees to put up a tent, they’re still piling his stuff out on tarps. I’d be pissed too! Jack and Debbie weren’t financially hurting, what was wrong with renting a storage unit, or heck, building an outbuilding on their extensive property to store the collection?
Finally, at least so far, is comic-collector Joe and his whiny fiancee Rebekah. She acts like she had no idea he was a collector. Hey bitch, don’t like it, move out. Yes, I can understand not wanting boxes of comics piled all over the house, but find a solution for the problem, which is better organization, don’t go trying to sell things off. Joe was entirely right when he said he didn’t want to sell anything. Why should he? The biggest tactic that Elyse uses is guilt. Other people are sad because of what you do! You owe them! He doesn’t owe them shit. They chose to be there, they knew he had a collection, he’s hardly the worst collector I’ve ever seen. Either accept people as they are or take a hike.
Then comes Transformers collector Dahveed who can’t tell the difference between his collection and his toy-store inventory. Here, I admit, this guy has a problem. It’s not that he collects, it’s that he’s already said he’s going to sell some of the toys, he just can’t bring himself to do it. And of course, Elyse, instead of looking at his inventory piled all over his condo, she goes straight to his collection and starts pointing out pieces he ought to sell. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE STUFF HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING?!?!? What an idiot. He goes out and buys cases of figures because he can’t buy just one from his sources, then all the extras are piled all over. There are plenty of shots in his condo where he has piles of identical figures and she ignores them, she goes straight for the rare stuff in his personal collection.
In the end, collections are a good thing, they are a positive thing, but only when they are kept under control. Someone who goes bankrupt to buy collectibles needs help. Someone who just hoards mounds of stuff needs help. Yet that help is not “sell it off”, it’s “be in control”. Elyse doesn’t understand how to help people be in control or be organized or be intelligent in their collecting habits. All Elyse understands is “SELL! SELL! SELL!” This is not a show for people who revel in collecting or enjoy seeing what people collect, it’s a show for people who want to point at the freaks and laugh as their life’s work is ripped asunder.
Update: I wasn’t going to do this, but the 4th episode was perhaps the worst example of this kind of behavior out of Elyse. She meets Howie, an Americana collector who has his house piled high with movie posters, books, albums, etc. He says he’d dreamed of putting on an exhibition for years and she suggests that he do that, plus take other things he’d like to sell along so he can get rid of the stuff he doesn’t want while sharing his collection with the world. So far, so good, I thought it was a good idea, plus it got him sorting through his collection to find out what he wants to display, and hopefully, organizes it better. We get to the exhibition and not only is Elyse clueless about how to treat collectables (putting them in direct sunlight, see episode 2), then she starts pushing Howie hard to sell the material he’s exhibiting! Whatever happened to the stuff he’s supposed to be selling?!?!? It’s like walking into a museum and telling people not to buy from the gift shop, go for the exhibits!
What a fucking bitch.