From the moment you turn on your television, until the time that you finally pull yourself away from the box, you’ll be bombarded with stereotypes; the inner-city thug, the aloof skateboarder, the prissy high school cheerleader. These ideas are ingrained in us from years of ingesting Hollywood blockbusters and basic cable dramas. What happens when you thrust a much smaller niche into the mainstream can be much more interesting.
In 2004, the then-SciFi Channel premiered Ghost Hunters, the now iconic tale of two Roto-Rooter employees who hunted ghosts in their spare time. When lead investigators Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes weren’t waxing poetic over a broken bathroom fixture, the program would depict the boys trying to debunk any and all claims of the paranormal for scaredy-cat homeowners. At first, Ghost Hunters seemed a lot like This Old House with Bob Vila – only shot entirely in night vision. The later episodes brought with them a more “on the hunt” feel, where the group would spend more time searching for ghosts than searching for practical and natural explanations for their experiences.
That same year, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin began filming Ghost Adventures: The Documentary, a full-length feature in which they investigated several locations in their home state of Nevada. This film would be released in 2006, and would propel them into a TV deal in 2008. This particular show does very little to debunk the claims detailed by the haunted, instead choosing to provoke the entities in hopes of capturing high-quality evidence.
Paranormal State, A&E’s first foray into the genre, debuted in 2007 and follows Ryan Buell and his team of investigators to primarily residential cases where they spend most of their time trying to comfort the homeowners and their families. This is the only of the “big three” programs to consistently use pyschics and mediums, and it’s also the program with the most controversy. (Search Paranormal State on Wikipedia for a fun read).
Of course, these aren’t the only examples of paranormal television, but they seem to be the most watched and most-enduring.
Now, I pose the following questions to you, the real-life paranormal enthusiast, to see exactly what you think of television’s portrayal of our collective interest: