Shopaholics Get a Reality Check on Oxygen's 'My Shopping Addiction'

From an heiress who spends thousands on fashion to a woman who can't stop hitting the shelves at the 99-cent store, the Oxygen show captures the world of overspending

Have a bit of a shopping habit you're trying to kick? Well, the up-close-and-personal view of compulsive overspending Oxygen's show My Shopping Addiction (Mondays at 11 p.m. ET) gives you might just knock the desire for senseless spending right out of you.

The show focuses on two shopping addicts per episode, and each is given a shot at rehabilitation. Both of these extreme shoppers are paired with a clinical psychologist -- either Dr. David Tolin or Dr. Ramani Durvasula -- who assigns a series of personal challenges to help them change course. Sometimes this works; sometimes it doesn't.

One thing always happens, though. At some point in every episode, both addicts make you want to throw up your hands and say, "Can you believe this guy/woman?" The series premiere, back in August, featured a 20-something, McMansion-lounging heiress who spends $30,000 a month on clothes, bags, shoes and, judging by her Chihuahuas' pudgy physiques, lots of gourmet dog food. When her friend suggests that she's being selfish, and that, you know, she might, maybe, at some point donate money to starving children in Africa, she bristles. "I'm not African," she snarls. The episode's other subject is an extreme 99-cent store enthusiast who uses her friends as a bank machine, and shows no sign of ever paying her debts. Dr. Tolin calls her a "classic narcissist" who values shopping over friendship. Meet the ladies from the first episode here:


On the upcoming fourth episode, the intrepid Tolin must contend with an unemployed young woman who reneges on her agreement to switch from spending to saving, and then lies to his face about it. (Apparently, she didn't realize that being on a reality show means having your actions recorded on video tape.) Dr. Ramani, meanwhile, counsels an image-conscious, 20-something guy who is still on his parents' dole. To make his own car payments, Ramani suggests that he give up the Ford Escalade he's driving, and trade it in for a more affordable Smart Car. Guess how he reacts? Yeah, not well.

The underlying message of My Shopping Addiction is that these people aren't merely selfish. They're suffering from the delusions of mental illness, and the consequences may be every bit as devastating as those wrought by a drug or alcohol addiction. The heiress in the show's premiere is estranged from her family and appears to have only one friend. She rejects a financial counselor's assessment that her current spending will lead to bankruptcy in four years' time, and her experience on the show doesn't lead her to curb her spending, either.

What do viewers get out of watching their struggles? It's a cautionary tale, for one. And then there's the comforting knowledge that your latest spending spree was actually pretty minor, compared to the damage these people do with a credit card!

Watch a sneak peek of tonight's episode:

 

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