It's Clean House, hands down. No question.
If you've never see the show, it goes like this. People whose homes and lives are overwhelmed with clutter and disarray call for help, and are descended upon by brassy diva Niecy Nash and her trio of expert fixer-uppers. They cajole, wheedle, shame, and bribe the homeowners into unclutching their crap, then (in unparalled hypocrisy so achingly beautiful it brings tears to my eyes) unload it onto other people at a yardsale, whose proceeds contribute to the redecoration of their homes.
On every show, these people -- who, remember, have called Clean House knowing darned well what they do -- stand around shocked and in denial about the very crap that forced them to call, saying things like:
- "Those dolls are my babies."
- "But I love that broken sewing machine!"
- "My grandma gave me that macaroni."
- "That's a project I'm planning on working on."
- "I paid good money for that in 1987!"
- "Do you know how hard that is to find?"
- "Oh, but I collect bread bags."
- "That phone book has sentimental value."
- "I'm saving that for my children."
It. Is. Tragic. One does not "love" things. One loves people. One loves dogs. Not cats, of course; cats are evil. But you get the idea; do not love anything that cannot, at least in theory, love you back.
"That's nice, Scipio; what does any of that have to do with comic books?"
Quite a lot, actually.
First, there's the cluttered home that is the DCU (or, really, any publisher's "universe" over time). Every once in a while, the accumulated baggage has to be evaluated, sorted through, and prioritized. One must retain the essential, jettison the extraneous, and repurpose the salvageable. Closet room is made for new colorful characters, literary rooms are furnished with new plots, and the carcasses of broken-down crossovers are cleared from the yard.
Those housecleanings can be rough. Even a "Clean House" fanatic like me can cling tightly to purposeless continuity tchotchkis, blinded to how refreshing a clean literary house can be. But I try to remember that all the clutterbugs on the show who actually trust the experts to do their stuff are always -- ALWAYS -- delighted with the results (and even if the specifics of the design aren't perfect, the streamlined living space is a refreshing new start). Well, not always; there was the legendary Judge Dragon from the first season, but she was obviously seriously disturbed and clearly not an appropriate model of behavior.
Second, there's the cluttered homes our comic books find themselves in. When I meet new people and they learn of my interests, they usually say, "Oh, so you collect comic books?"
I always say the same thing: "No. I just read them."
If you watch a lot of Clean House (and I do; I TiVo it; I burn it to DVD; I watch it on the laptop while sunning at the beach), you'll notice that the word group "collect / collection / collectible" crops up FREQUENTLY. It's the ultimate red flag and the Clean House crew never fails to swoop down mercilessly on these pointless "collections" of frisbees, shot glasses, soccer balls, and salt-&-pepper shakers.
Starting about 10 years ago, I started purging my accumulated back issues every couple of years. Without looking at anything within the boxes, I mentally pick out some things I want to keep, pull them out, and farm out the rest.
The first time I did, I advertised the bulk of my collection as being for sale. A young couple came to check it out. As the husband (the real buyer, of course) looked through the books, his eyes spun pinwheels as he marveled at a literal myriad of stories he'd never heard of. They were young; they were poor; they couldn't afford more than a third of what I was asking for.
But they got it all anyway. The opportunity to share the joy those old stories had given me with someone who cared about the DCU as much as I do -- I couldn't put a value on that.
Another time, instead of selling them, I donated all but a few choice ones to a local charity, a home for children with AIDS. It's tax deductible, you know.
Last time, I forfeited them to the Big Monkey E-bay store to help jumpstart the business. I'll probably be doing that again soon. I'll pick out a few things to save, like my Detroit League run; I mean, it's not like that's going to be in trade paperback any time soon. But the rest of everything else "pre-Infinite Crisis" will go out to give someone else pleasure.
I've got enough to do reading my new comics without pretending that I'm going to go back and spend time re-reading my "collection".
PLEASE. Consider selling, donating, or giving away your old comics to help perpetuate our hobby. Besides; you deserve a Clean House.