Paranormal: the new “normal” on TV?


I am not particularly drawn to the paranormal.

As I mentioned previously, I had a few issues after my brother tricked me into seeing

Poltergeist. And

it’s not just that I get scared. (Of course, it’s partly that I get

scared.) It’s also that it’s just not my thing most of the time. I did

watch The Twilight Zone, and I like the occasional campy heaven-and-hell–themed

movie (Two of a Kind, Oh God, Switch). And there’s The Hunger. But that’s not about the vampires.

It seems, however, that my tastes do

not reflect the current television lineup. Alessandra Stanley, the

New York Times TV reviewer who recently expressed dismay at how insecure the new Jaime Sommers is, notes that this season is paranormal-heavy.

I must say I agree with her that it is pretty weird.

She noted that a few of the paranormal shows have been

on for a least a couple of years:

The Ghost Whisperer



And then, of course, last year

introduced Heroes.

This year, however, it seems

the real explosion has happened.

There’s Moonlight, about a vampire private investigator.

And then there’s Journeyman,

about a guy who time-travels within his own lifetime to fix things from

the past.

I’ve seen one episode of this,

thus far. It’s not living up to Quantum Leap (I did that paranormal

series!) yet, but we’ll see.

I have not watced Pushing

, about a “piemaker-turned-detective who can raise the dead long enough to ask them

whodunit,” but it sounds kind of fun.

And then there’s Reaper, about a kid whose parents sold his

soul to the devil.

And, of course, Saving Grace, with Holly Hunter and a country-singing

angel named Earl.

(Irrelevant aside: I was once

mistaken for Holly Hunter’s personal assistant.)

And in production are New

on Fox (about a secretly immortal New York City police

officer. He saved a Native American girl way back in the day. Waaaaay

back.) and True Blood, an HBO vampire series featuring Anna


And that’s not a complete listing

of all the paranormality!

In the Times

article, Stanley proposes a couple of possible explanations.

“Nobody really knows where network

executives come from or where they go after being fired. Perhaps those

neatly groomed suits marching in lock step through Burbank are themselves

the undead, demons, witches and vampires who suck the blood of Nielsen

pollsters, turn viewers into zombies and howl at the Moonves. They are

taking over the planet one show at a time.”

“ … howl at the Moonves” — get it? (Oh, that made me chuckle.)

But she also noted that “[t]rends,

like zombies, tend to rise again, and certain periods have been marked

by an increased fascination with the occult.” During times of seemingly

uncontrollable chaos, people are often drawn to supernatural explanations.

(It seems there was a lot of interest in the occult after the Civil

War.) She suggests that given global warming, international terrorism

and the like, perhaps people want to be both entertained by the paranormal

and to entertain the fantasy that there are paranormal explanations

and solutions to these frighteningly human problems.

Or perhaps television executives really are

the undead.

Of course, as one who never even watched Buffy or The X-Files, I cannot come up with

a better explanation.

What do you think? Do you watch these

shows? Any idea why there are so many of them?

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