Episode 18 – Celebrity Paranormal Project

 

This episode: Celebrity Paranormal Project, Season 1, Eps. 1-4.  Watch it on Tubi TV.

Next episode: Blind Date, Season ???.  Watch it on YouTube.

Since Halloween is coming around the bend, we decided to do an appropriately spooky themed show for this episode.  This week we discuss the zany mélange of celebrity and the paranormal from VH1, Celebrity Paranormal Project, where D-list celebrities stumble around haunted institutions with EMF meters and séance scrolls, talking to ghosts of people who have never existed.

After discussing the concept and structure of each half of the mash-up, we talk about the fakery on behalf of the production team and parse out the differences between the authenticity of the paranormal activity and the authenticity of the cast’s reactions.  We then move into whether the idea of ghosts is plausible in general and the scanty nature of the ‘evidence’ involved.  Finally, we examine the role of gender and the show’s interaction with broader horror tropes before ending with a comparison of this show to other paranormal reality shows we’ve watched and theorize why this show failed when it had such a broad appeal in the abstract.

Finally, we’re going to be taking a break for the holiday season to get a couple episodes in the bag and we’re going to be releasing less frequently next year, unfortunately.  It was just a case of JS having significant career and family obligations and Mike realizing the weekly grind of podcast post-production wasn’t terribly sustainable.  (We were a bit naïve going into this about the work that would be involved, obviously.)  That being said, we are hoping that having more time between episodes will lead to a higher quality podcast and we are kicking around some ideas between us on what we can do to facilitate that, so if you, the listener, have any ideas on that front that you’d like to see implemented, this would be a great moment to get in touch with us.  Thanks for listening so far and have a wonderful holiday season!

Show Notes and Links

1:28 / Introducing this week’s show (eventually); Mike mentions America’s Smartest Model, The Surreal Life, and Flavor of Love

3:20 / Based off an earlier reality show, MTV’s Fear

4:12 / Running down the concept and episode formula

7:28 / Talking about the ‘Heart of the Haunting’

8:17 / This show borrows heavily from horror tropes and narratives

8:41 / Briefly comparing the tone to other ‘ghost hunting’ shows

9:18 / Transitioning to the ‘celebrity’ aspect of the show

10:29 / We never see the production crew, but they are out there (unlike the ghosts)

11:08 / Many of these ‘celebrities’ seemed to be there as product placement for other VH1 reality shows (and Baywatch)

11:51 / Discussing how the types of celebrities on the show differed by gender

12:32 / They really dug deep on some of these credentials

13:38 / Segueing into the perennial authenticity question

14:00 / Many of the narratives in this show appear to be invented

14:42 / Discussing the shenanigans of the ‘ghosts’ (aka the PA’s)

17:15 / Our favorite obviously producer-planted ‘relics’

19:12 / The questionable physics behind the ‘ghost catcher’

20:13 / The show relies heavily upon re-enactments

22:20 / Comparing the tone to other paranormal shows we’ve watched (Finding Bigfoot, Monica the Medium)

23:20 / Discussing the authenticity of the celebrity reactions

24:32 / There was a strong correlation between celebrities already believing in the paranormal and finding ‘evidence’ of paranormal activity; Mike mentions Casper the Friendly Ghost

25:25 / Concept of ‘heightened suggestibility’ – Some of the fear has a rational basis (fear of the dark, fear of being alone)

26:00 / Mike’s storytime – freaking out at a ‘haunted house’

27:52 / JS had a ‘jump scare’ moment watching the show

28:40 / A few of the celebrities express skepticism or ambivalence

29:37 / Segueing into the plausibility (or lack thereof) of ghosts in general

30:54 / JS has the answer; Mike brings up Last Thursdayism

32:05 / JS discusses the odd cultural specificities of American ‘ghost stories’

33:40 / Nobody suggests that we look for ghosts in Auschwitz

34:11 / The Finding Bigfoot Problem: Shouldn’t we have better evidence than ‘whispers’ on digital voice recorders or thermal blips?

35:48 / The gendered nature of the ‘freak-outs’ – Did the selection process play a role?

37:23 / A couple of examples of women behaving against the grain

38:28 / Mike brings up an episode where a male celebrity is called a ‘little girl’

39:05 / Discussing the objectification of the female celebrities, the objectification is reminiscent of many horror flicks

41:00 / Comparing this show to Monica the Medium (uplifting vs. frightening – sincerity vs. cynicism)

43:52 / Unlike Monica, you don’t need to buy into the existence of the paranormal to be entertained

45:00 / The show was entertaining in small doses, but the formula began to get repetitive

45:34 / The high points of the show depended on the specific celebrities, but too many celebs were just there to look good

47:45 / Comparing the failure of this show to the (relative) success of its predecessor

48:45 / JS pitches a CPP All-Star reunion show

49:36 / Closing with the appeal of the show

50:33 / JS was surprised this show only went for eight episodes

51:01 / Mike thought it might have been viable if the editing was tighter and the celebrities were stronger

51:58 / We discuss the production costs and fantasize about the production company going the full Bridezilla

53:38 / The logistical difficulties of maintaining the show in terms of having enough different locations to explore

55:30 / An announcement for our listeners: taking a holiday break and a new release schedule for next year (aka podcasting was more work than we had originally bargained for)

56:45 / Talking about our first episode of the next season: Another First Love, this time from Mike

58:18 / The usual stuff: contact us, like our Facebook page, rate/review and subscribe

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Episode 17 – Hell’s Satans

 

This week’s discussion: Hell’s Satans, Season 1, Eps. 1-5, 7-8.  Watch it on Tubi TV.

Next week’s discussion: Celebrity Paranormal Project, Season 1, Eps. 1-4.  Watch it on Tubi TV.

As promised last week, we have a special guest host, our friend Dave, who requested that I curate a shortlist of shows for him to pick from, so I went to the smorgasbord of reality television known as Tubi TV, and he settled on the show Hell’s Satans, about a misfit moped gang from the college town of Richmond, VA.

After discussing the concept, characters, and episodes, we segue into our main discussion of just how constructed this reality show is and how the mockumentary that inspired the show informed our views on the show’s structure and message.  We also discuss issues of the show’s worldview, whether reality TV needs villains to be compelling, and return to some of the podcasts’ favorite hobby horses, like stereotypes, ‘hanging out’ and Mike name-dropping Jersey Shore.

Show Notes and Links

1:10 / This week’s guest host

2:03 / Introducing this week’s show

2:53 / The high concept; Mike does the Sons of Anarchy and Jackass comparison again

4:10 / Our impressions of the gang members

4:35 / Travis – comic relief

6:00 / Discussing the ‘One-Eyed Turtle’

7:00 / Pat – the leader of the group

8:21 / Jessie – the enforcer

10:04 / Rachel – the wild child

11:05 / Discussing the ‘lost episode’ (at least lost by Tubi TV)

12:41 / Chance and Brooke – friends with benefits

14:46 / Quick hit summaries of Episodes 1 and 2 – intro and initiation

15:37 / Episodes 3 and 4 – job hunt and party

17:03 / Episode 5 – ‘Survivor’ style camp-out

17:58 / Episodes 7 and 8 – Puerto Rico trip

18:56 / How constructed are these narratives?

19:44 / Dave thought it was a strange mix of the real and the manufactured

20:30 / Mike thought the narratives seemed a little too clean, compares the show’s structure to a sitcom

22:25 / Discussing how real the ‘college party’ in Episode 1 was

23:23 / The implausibility of the Puerto Rico trip

24:24 / Travis’ ‘nude modeling’ session

25:02 / Mike brings up Jersey Shore (again)

25:46 / Dave thought this show was less manipulative than something like Toddlers & Tiaras

26:36 / Discussing the confessionals

27:08 / Talking about the antecedent for this show, Satan Since 2003

28:00 / Dave’s impressions of the mockumentary

28:38 / A synopsis of the mockumentary

30:08 / Mike’s impressions of the mockumentary (the quote from the producer is here)

31:17 / How the mockumentary informed our reading of the reality show

32:55 / Returning to the topic of stereotypes and reality TV (Mike’s ‘theory’ was stated in Episode 1)

33:47 / Dave thought the mockumentary complimented the show well, made him think more about the intent behind the structure

34:39 / Mike thought the mockumentary confirmed his feelings about the behind-the-scenes manipulation

35:12 / How (sub)cultural specificity can inform what reality TV producers are and aren’t able to do

35:56 / This show lacked the ‘villain edit’ found in many reality shows

36:42 / The optimism of the show, Mike compares it to Snooki & JWoww

37:00 / The positive portrayal of this group is reflective of broader cultural changes

38:10 / Segueing into the show’s target demographic and worldview

39:05 / It was interesting that much of the show’s content cut against the ‘carefree’ worldview the group is selling

40:40 / Comparing the show to our (admittedly hazy) recollections of Jackass

41:50 / Talking about moments where the show touches on social class

42:43 / Does this show have the legs for a second season?

44:42 / We thought the show was entertaining, but a little bit generic

45:40 / How much overlap would there be between an interesting second season and a marketable second season?

46:13 / The show was pretty tame and inconsequential despite the antics and squabbles

47:00 / Does a reality TV show need a villain to be entertaining?

48:05 / Would the missing episode have contained a fight with actual consequences?

48:50 / Mike gives his opinion on ‘villain edits’, mentions Jersey Shore (take a drink) and the first season of Project Runway

50:19 / Coming back to the idea of reality TV as ‘hanging out’ once again, Mike mentions the loathsome Keys to the VIP

51:17 / Introducing the next episode

52:41 / Ending with announcements: contact us, like our Facebook page, rate/review, and subscribe

Episode 16 – Judge Faith

 

This week’s discussion: Judge Faith, Season 2, Eps. 1-4, 7-10.  Watch it on Amazon Prime Video. Watch it on YouTube.

Next week’s discussion: Hell’s Satans, Season 1, Eps. 1-5, 7-8.  Watch it on Tubi TV.

This week your intrepid hosts return to the courtroom for the show Judge Faith.  We go into an in-depth discussion of several episodes, often directly comparing the show with our previous venture into courtroom reality TV, Divorce Court, which we discussed back in Episode 5.

We discuss the commonalities in structure between the two shows as well as their shared strange tonal variation, while remarking on the considerable differences, such as Judge Faith’s more distant and legalistic temperament and the more substantive ways in which this show actually interacts with the legal system.  There is also quite a bit of discussion about issues of socioeconomic class and education and how the ‘informal agreements’ common among the American ‘underclass’ are a poor fit for our legal system.  We end with a discussion about the problematic nature of ‘law as entertainment’ and the intersection between educational status and legal complexity, with Mike adding a postscript to his critique of how the classist perspective of courtroom reality TV often misses the forest for the trees.

Show Notes and Links

1:20 / Thankfully Christian numerologists were wrong for once

2:45 / Introducing this week’s show

3:40 / The concept of the show (our episode on Divorce Court is here)

4:43 / Mike takes JS for a trip down Memory Lane

6:48 / Our impressions of the host (You can see her Miss America talent routine here)

8:02 / The ‘expert witnesses’ made an impression on JS

8:55 / Mike was struck by the judge’s legalistic demeanor

10:08 / Mike thought her lawyerliness made her seem more distant than Judge Toler

10:59 / Why Mike hoped this would be more interesting and distinct (Judge Faith’s Twitter)

13:13 / What stuck out to JS from Episode 1

14:33 / Episode 2 – eviction dispute

15:41 / This episode had quite a bit of legal explanation

16:40 / The tonal variation of the show – this episode was much more realistic

17:23 / The motif of ‘informal agreements’

18:45 / Claimants often come from the lower socioeconomic strata

19:31 / Discussing the case ruling

20:28 / The difficult situation of the claimants

21:43 / Episode 3 – a serious look at a light-hearted matter

22:45 / Crossover exposure for the show LA Hair

24:40 / The economics of court TV payouts and reputational hits

26:20 / Blowing over the laptop case from Episode 4

27:18 / JS’s favorite case – the Tinder scam artist (Mike mentions the Cecil the Lion brouhaha)

29:29 / The plaintiff stood out for being a ‘doctor’ (but not a real doctor)

31:06 / A brief aside on demographics of the claimants

31:44 / Discussing the legal merits of the ruling

33:21 / The difference between arbitration and regular court

34:20 / Episode 7 – thefts and theatrics

35:12 / How much was the laundry case choreographed?

36:40 / The humorous tone of this episode

37:07 / The (possibly dubious) ruling; Mike mentions kabuki theater

39:01 / The second half – possibly sponsored by Nutri-Bullet

39:56 / The wrinkle to the case – criminal vs. civil

40:48 / Episode 8 – accident claim dispute

41:33 / The most interesting and realistic case

42:37 / Discussing the complexity of the ruling

44:00 / The show’s weird use of ‘my friend’

44:24 / Episode 9 – tent revival in a courtroom

45:12 / The class and educational background of the claimants

45:41 / This episode seemed like a weird outlier to Mike

46:38 / Did the actual case even matter?

47:30 / This episode seemed to be a strong reflection of what this show’s target audience craves; Mike mentions Tyler Perry

48:53 / Mike briefly goes over the ID theft case in Episode 10

50:43 / The problematic nature of ‘law as entertainment’

51:58 / JS compares this style of show to the ‘CSI Effect

53:03 / Is there any potential redeeming educational value to courtroom reality TV?

54:18 / The educational episodes seemed few and far between

54:51 / This show engages more directly with the legal system than Divorce Court, which might give it more potential to mislead the average viewer about the realities of the court system

55:30 / Does the inherent complexity of law subtly bias the legal system against those less educated?

58:32 / JS argues that the legal system does attempt to take into account those issues

1:00:35 / Does the law have potential to alienate poorer citizens who rely on ‘informal agreements’?  Can the complexities be fixed or is it just the nature of the beast?

1:01:54 / The law is often complex because society is complex and human relationships are complex

1:02:53 / A brief aside on class issues and the show’s ‘law-and-order’ perspective; Mike compares the ID theft case in Episode 10 to the Equifax breach (Mike didn’t mention his similar critique in the Divorce Court episode, but consider this a coda)

1:04:53 / JS wraps up with some reflections on how his barometer has changed

1:05:15 / Introducing the show for the next episode; Mike mentions Sons of Anarchy and Jackass

1:06:45 / Our announcements (for real this time): email us, rate/review us, and subscribe