A proliferation of paranormal shows has flooded our televisions over the past couple of decades. A few of the pioneers are still running, but many of the most popular shows have come and gone. In their wake, an impression was left in terms of how we, as a society, think and feel about ghosts.
While the majority of people don’t believe in ghosts and never will — the world at large accepts that people are investigating the paranormal and has come to terms with that. I say this, because over and over again, evidence continues to be published. Even news sites follow the accounts of paranormal investigators. It seems we’ve all grown accustomed to the question of whether a house, a pub, a hotel or other location, is haunted. We’re also accepting of the folks who are trying to prove or disprove it.
Prior to the paranormal shows, the subject was relegated to the shadows and a few mysterious individuals who devoted their time in search of the answers to the afterlife. Occasionally a publisher would print a new book and people would buy it, read it and discuss it with like-minded friends. However, it was all a matter of speculation. Was any of it true and do ghosts exist?
Before these investigators came into our lives each week through cable TV or the Internet, most people didn’t have a clue what an EMF detector was or what it is used for, paranormally speaking. Nor did the average person didn’t have a format for detecting ghosts in a reportedly haunted location.
Now we do.
With the decade-long stint of paranormal shows, many of us can banter ghost tech with the best. We know what EVP stands for and what a full body apparition is. We know how to debunk knocking, scratching, cold spots, and hair-pulling. We know how to summon a spirit by saying, “If there’s anyone in this room right now, please give me a sign.” And we know how to provoke a ghost into responding via electronic means. We also know how some folks want to see a ghost so badly, their minds will connect dots until a phantom becomes apparent through floating objects on film and patterns in photographs.
Paranormal shows have changed pop culture and have made us all a little more skeptical than we were in the last century. Maybe we’re more realistic when it comes to ghosts and spirits than we used to be. We’re less naive now than two decades ago and it’s much easier for us to spot a fake.
Recalling some of the popular paranormal shows, here are some of the most well-known, and what I think of them. You may think differently.
Paranormal Shows Review
(2004-2016) SyFy Network – On this show, two plumbers with a penchant for the paranormal set out each week to hunt for ghosts in different locations. Its focus is the work of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), founded by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. Both guys had day jobs at Roto Rooter.
The show followed a format. Each week, the team investigated a new location and started out by presenting the backstory on the case. The team would then set up their gear and investigate. At the end of the show, Jason and Grant would share their big reveal with the interested party. The show’s conclusion would declare each location haunted or not, based upon the evidence presented. Ghost Hunters episodes typically contained real-world issues with compelling evidence that kept viewers glued to their TVs.
What made this show different from others was Jason’s no-nonsense attitude which came across in the way he processed evidence and the way he handled the crew. The human, realness of the characters made each cast member either endearing or annoying — or even just attractive and nice to watch. The people we watched every week became very real to us.
The most important thing that set this show apart was the way the team debunked the evidence. Their approach was new and compelling. Orbs were not permitted as evidence, nor was subjective evidence from psychics or mediums. As plumbers, Jason and Grant had mechanical knowledge of different structures and this was employed to debunk locations. If there was knocking, they investigated it as a structural fault. They didn’t just accept that a ghost had caused it and then call it a fact.
Spinoffs: Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy
In 2019, Jason Hawes and other TAPS members will return to television in a new series called “Ghost Nation” on The Travel Channel.
(2015 – ) The Travel Channel – This is a show where they collect personal accounts of paranormal experiences and re-enact them as dramatizations on the show. After watching the TAPS team investigate on Ghost Hunters, this show seems like a setback to the paranormal community. In my opinion, the re-enacted accounts seem overblown and implausible. Critical commentaries also indicate that the victims seem to be attention-seeking. In addition, viewers notice the show uses music to emphasize the tellers’ accounts and to influence viewers’ perceptions. In my opinion, this show really needs a good debunker – or even just some solid evidence.
(2007 – 2011) A & E – This show followed the Penn State Paranormal team as they investigated claims of the paranormal. I watched one show that portrayed how kids are more susceptible to ghosts sightings. I do think it’s possible for children to have heightened susceptibility to paranormal phenomena, but on this show, it appeared to be more of a way for parents to explain non-optimum behavior. Very non-scientific, it turned me off.
In the interests of transparency, I am not a fan of A&E. Once Biography disappeared, this A&E has been struggling to find relevance. I’ve noticed lazy, degraded shows coming from this television network in recent years. I’m not impressed with its programming. It’s one of the reasons I cut the cord and don’t participate in pay TV.
(2008 – ) The Travel Channel – This is probably my least favorite paranormal show. I have personal knowledge that they faked at least one episode. That episode entailed investigating the residence of a person I know personally. I have knowledge of the person who supposedly was the ghost they encountered and feel the information was sensationalized and outright false. Lazy work in an attempt trying to get ratings. That’s all I have to say about Ghost Adventures.
(2002 – ) – It may be surprising to know that I found this to be one of the spookiest paranormal shows on TV. Derek Acorah was a psychic on the show and to me, that slant gave the show a more superstitious feel than its American counterparts. So even though I say the show is spooky, I don’t mean I think it’s believable. There’s too much table tipping going on.
Maybe it’s a European thing to give a pronounced weight to psychic or subjective accounts. To me, the inclusion of elementals and other mythical entities seemed far-fetched to me.
On the other hand, the Most Haunted team did investigate some pretty creepy destinations. They also did it in a style that was more fear-provoking than the American shows. I liked Most Haunted for its scariness, but didn’t give it much weight in the evidence department. It was an entertaining way to discover how other people viewed the paranormal and to explore the other side of the world from my living room.
(2005-2017) The History Channel – The History Channel put on an interesting show that was a third-party accounting of various ghost stories. Unlike Paranormal Survivor and other shows, this was more of a documentary format and its quality was professional. The show ran for 9 seasons and consisted of 97 episodes. I found it interesting. Instead of being a turnoff like other shows, it was more of a jumping-off point for further personal research. It didn’t have to be more than it was. I liked A Haunting.
Those are my opinions on paranormal shows. The only show – paranormal or not – that has ever kept my interest was Ghost Hunters. Confession: As I mentioned, I’m a cord-cutter. Ghost Hunters was the ONLY reason I paid for pay TV for so many years. However, Ghost Nation appears to have promise. Once it starts, I guess I’ll may have to get connected to pay TV once again.