What the hell is up with the proliferation of paranormal shows on television right now? I’m not talking about scripted shows like Supernatural or whatever 90210-meets-Witches-of-Eastwick mashup that’s currently on the CW – instead I’m wondering how Haunted Collector got greenlit for a second season. How many dybbuk-possessed chifforobes could there possibly be rolling around out there on Antiques Roadshow?
Now, full disclosure: I have to admit I actually haven’t seen any episodes of Haunted Collector; I just didn’t see the need for it, considering I’ve seen both Ghost Hunters and New Yankee Workshop and I didn’t see the need for a show that combined aspects of both. It’s not just Haunted Collector though, there’s Celebrity Ghost Stories and Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Witness and… well there’s no less than sixteen shows currently airing on American cable television, all of which are listed as “unscripted” paranormal television shows, according to Wikipedia (and we all know how accurate Wikipedia is). Enough, people; it’s time to think up something new instead of just trying the whole “It’s like Die Hard, but on a boat” trope.
In a way I suppose you can blame the advent and over-saturation of the “reality” television show for this. What used to be noteworthy for its uniquity became just another drop of piss in an ocean of crap, with The Real World and Survivor and Big Brother and The Amazing Race and Rocket Surgery With The Stars and god knows what else. Eventually television executives just ran out of “real world” things to make shows about, so they started in on closely-related genres; with Ghost Hunters becoming so popular, it was only a matter of time before imitators began to spring up and completely inundate cable networks with a tidal wave of knock-offs. I can only hope that the genre just collapses under its own weight and takes all these shows with it instead of having there be a billion shows all trying to be an unscripted version of The X-Files.
How stupid do television executives think the average American television viewer is? I suppose that’s probably the worst question to ask. I mean some credulity is expected, especially from younger viewers – as a kid, I eventually realized that professional wrestling was fake before it got too embarrassing to think otherwise, mainly because I couldn’t figure out why some of these guys didn’t go to jail for hitting each other with like chairs and bricks and stuff. “Don’t any of these guys have lawyers?” I would scream at the television on Saturday mornings, trying not to spill my bowl of Cheerios. This was usually followed by my college roommate coming in and telling me to put on some fucking pants already. Obviously he was not a fan of the People’s Champion.
I’m not even trying to say that paranormal investigation is staged or made-up in the same way that pro wrestling is fake. Personally I believe there’s some freaky shit out there that we can’t explain but that needs to be recorded and analyzed in as scientific a manner as possible. I’m not into healing crystals or auras or using dowsing rods or any of that stuff, but if I’ve got an EMF detector, a FLIR camera, a night-vision HD camera, a Geiger counter, or whatever else I can get my hands on, and I record actual weird shit, I’m going to believe that a lot sooner than an hour-long episode of World’s Most Haunted Police Precinct Bathrooms or whatever else is on the Biography Channel in between Hitler’s Last Stand and Ancient Aliens.