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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this eerie reality series explores alleged paranormal activity affecting both children and adults. The discussions about ghosts, demons, and the occult may be frightening for young kids (and those who just get freaked out by that sort of thing). Expect some use of language like "damn" and "hell" (stronger words are bleeped). The show includes footage of Christian rituals like prayer, sprinkling holy water, and exorcisms.
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What's the story?
PARANORMAL STATE is a docuseries that chronicles the research activities of a team of college students who investigate alleged cases of paranormal activity. It centers on Pennsylvania State student Ryan Buell, whose frightening childhood experience with what he believes to be a supernatural entity prompted him to create the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) in order to help people find explanations for strange things happening around them.
Is it any good?
Buell and his senior team members spend hours training students and investigating cases that range from strange noises to alleged demonic possessions. Trained therapists and members of the clergy often join them. The team uses electronic voice phenomena, video cameras, and other technology to monitor visitors from the "beyond." Cleansing rituals -- including the use of holy water, prayer, and exorcisms -- are used to push spirits away and bring peace.
The series attempts to present paranormal research in a way that's both clinical and informative. And Buell tries to sound scientific by keeping a "director's log" (which sounds oddly like something straight out of a Star Trek episode). But the show is more eerie than educational, as viewers watching while the team tries to communicate with the spirit world during "dead time" -- the time of night when paranormal entities are most active. Furthermore, Buell's frequent discussions about fighting evil make this series darker than other shows that deal with "the other side" and might be too frightening for young and/or more sensitive viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different ways that the media uses the idea of ghosts and spirits to entertain audiences. How do movies like Ghostbusters, The Exorcist, and The Sixth Sense depict the paranormal? Why do people purposely choose to watch things that will frighten them? What's the appeal? And what role does the belief in spirits, ghosts, and the paranormal play in our lives and in our culture?