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 series features frequent scenes of implied paranormal activity, including shadowy human shapes, moving inanimate objects, and recordings of disembodied voices muttering things like "so much pain." There's lots of screaming, crying, and other signs of obvious emotional distress as novice investigators (a.k.a. normal people with insatiable curiosity) spend nights at reportedly haunted locations to look for evidence of ghosts. Many talk about feeling spirits try to choke or pull at them, and all are convincing in their fear. Violent acts like murder, suicide, and torture are described in detail. Clearly this series isn't for young kids (or sensitive older ones).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE SCARIEST PLACES ON EARTH is a reality TV-style investigation series that places willing participants in reportedly haunted locations and documents their impressions of paranormal activity. The series -- hosted by Linda Blair (The Exorcist) and narrated by Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist) -- visits famously spooky locations like Manresa Castle in Washington and Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia. In each segment, a team of novice investigators moves in for a night to test the paranormal claims. Armed with video cameras, flashlights, and, in some cases, high-tech equipment like thermal cameras and highly sensitive voice recorders, the subjects set out for a night of ghost hunting.
Is it any good?
The visitors are usually greeted almost immediately (thanks to editing, no doubt) by an inexplicable sense that they're not alone; as they proceed on their tours, many see strange happenings like inanimate objects moving, glass breaking, and blurry shapes passing by. Some claim to hear voices, and those with recorders capture and replay phrases like "so much pain" and "out, out, out." Others describe physical encounters with spirits, whom they say pull on them, choke them, and pass through their own bodies.
Not surprising, there's plenty of screaming, crying, and obvious emotional distress on the investigators' part -- the frightening content is guaranteed to upset sensitive viewers even at the teen level. Many viewers probably won't be surprised to hear that skeptics question the series' credibility (which may be why it doesn't offer any time to anyone who could offer alternative explanations for the supposed paranormal activity). In the end, viewers must decide for themselves whether they believe the investigators' claims. But regardless of credibility, the show is tense and frightening. This is definitely a know-your-child situation, so be sure to take a close look at disturbing content like descriptions of death and violence and supposed ghostly encounters to assess whether your young viewers are ready for it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ghosts. Do you believe in them? Why or why not? Do you believe the investigators' claims? How come? How plausible is their evidence? Is it possible to believe what you see on TV in this high-tech age? How easily could evidence be fabricated? Why do you think this show doesn't include expert accounts from skeptics? Does the fact that it only presents one side change your opinion of its credibility? Why or why not?