This week’s discussion: Monica the Medium, Season 1, Eps. 1-4. Watch it on Hulu.
Next week’s discussion: Keys to the VIP, Season 2, Eps. 1-5. Watch it on Tubi TV.
This week your intrepid hosts descend into the Ninth Circle of Reality TV Hell for Season One of the ‘millennial’ oriented ‘Freeform’ network’s ‘medium’ show (so many airquotes): Monica the Medium. After venting their suffering via overwrought similes and mocking skits, Mike and JS discuss the show’s hybrid concept, production values, and cast of characters while asking themselves the question that is always foremost on their minds – Doesn’t anybody realize that there is a camera crew following these people all over the place?
They then discuss millennial stereotypes and the branding strategies of the network this show aired on as well as delving into the various techniques of so-called ‘psychics’ and ‘mediums.’ Finally, they finish on the appeal of medium shows and this particular show’s outlier emphasis on wholesome depictions and the promotion of a narrative of emotional uplift.
Show Notes and Links
1:05 / We commiserate about our love for this show (our TOWIE episode is here)
2:48 / Introducing the show
4:16 / The concept of the show
6:10 / 42 Minutes of Reality Masterpiece Theater
10:32 / These ‘spontaneous’ readings happen everywhere
11:02 / Talking about the ‘eerie’ FX
12:00 / The cast of characters
12:50 / Monica’s best friend, Krista
14:23 / How authentic are these conflicts?
15:27 / Ann and the role of the ‘skeptic’
17:08 / Discussing the different roles of Monica’s parents
18:27 / Why doesn’t anyone seem to notice the cameras?
19:27 / A questionable blind date
20:44 / Some producer magic at the ‘necktie party’
21:38 / Does her mediumship really scare off the guys?
22:34 / Even Monica’s friends get in on the camera obliviousness
23:19 / Monica’s reading in the clothing store
24:14 / Did Monica actually need a job or was she doing this for the show?
25:06 / Two pillars of the show: readings and college life
26:05 / The readings are so repetitive and make the show a chore to watch
26:43 / Mike’s strategies for making it through
27:37 / The college life aspects were a little bit more bearable (and more ethical)
29:00 / The strongest segments of the show
30:21 / Discussing the network and its target demographic
32:45 / JS goes on a rant about inane marketing speak
33:45 / The ‘wholesome’ nature of the show’s depiction of college life
37:30 / The avocado toast reference is explained here
38:02 / Show plays on both the extraordinary and the familiar (It’s ‘relatable’)
40:42 / The unsung hero of this show
42:30 / Transitioning from college life to the medium aspect
43:33 / We thought readings were cold, but arranged in advance
46:15 / The two different types of readings
47:17 / The idea of ‘cold reading’
48:55 / Pondering what it would really be like if this stuff was real (Where Mike stole his Jimmy Hoffa thing from)
50:10 / Motivated reasoning (Mike couldn’t find the dark room study he referenced, but here is a report of a similar study about fake séances and table levitation)
56:43 / Talking about the role of TV editing and how it emphasizes the ‘hits’ of cold reading while culling out the ‘misses’
58:47 / The caveats of Monica’s medium mentor aka ‘You don’t want to be the next Sylvia Browne’
59:53 / Transitioning to the appeal of this show and of mediums in general
1:01:24 / Mike discusses the tragic stories of many of the clients and his conflicted feelings
1:02:06 / The difficulties of processing sudden and/or premature death
1:03:08 / Comparing to religion – a desire for rationality and order (‘People aren’t suffering for no reason’)
1:04:32 / Mike talks about the role of emotion in belief (Mike mentions the ontological argument for God)
1:05:27 / The quote is here (second one down)
1:06:26 / The ethics of mediumship (or lack thereof)
1:09:10 / Discussing Monica’s motives and our take on her – delusional or duplicitous?
1:10:22 / Talking about the hybrid format of the show
1:11:30 / How much did the particularity of the college milieu contribute to the show’s success (and ultimate failure)?
1:13:00 / The show’s extreme emphasis on uplift was interesting and distinct for reality TV (although we didn’t like it)
1:14:50 / Is there a dichotomy in reality TV between uplift and humiliation?
1:15:36 / Introducing the next episode