Ay yo, Ghosties! Welcome to the #SummerofGhosts
I have to say, in all my years of watching TV, I have never followed a show that has managed to find a way to keep it’s fans engaged over a summer hiatus. Sure, you have your re-runs, maybe a few guest appearances by the actors in a variety of other places, but never to the extent that Ghosts is doing right now. It’s ingenious because it shows confidence. It’s telling the world, “look Ma! We made it and we will be here for a while so get used to us!” As part of this campaign, CBS will celebrate the success of the show with several activations, events, and online experiences as a way to not only wet the appetites of current fans but also to bring in new fans. The show is magic and the numbers prove it. In late March, Ghosts hit a record at 6.2 million views and the CBS wants to keep that number climbing. What better way than to consistently remind television viewers that they are still here, even during the summer months. And fans have been having a great time with it too. Fans like yours truly.
A few weeks ago, I published this article, highlighting what I’d like to see the writers of the CBS version of the hit BBC show Ghosts tackle in the upcoming season, or in future seasons. One of the main things I am pushing for, however, is the premise that the woman of the house, Samantha Arondekar, is not the only person in her universe with the ability to see ghosts. I have long been a fan of stories that speak to regular humans who can do amazing things. XMen and really the entire Marvel Universe, Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World. And more recently, I’ve been intrigued with those who can interact with the paranormal, from Caspar, to Ghostbusters, to Beetlejuice, to Coraline, to ParaNorman, to Ghost Whisperer, to just about all the kids in the stories from Are You Afraid of the Dark (I’m looking at you Melissa Joan Hart).
These stories all feature a regular Joe or Jane who has been blessed with the ability to see and communicate with the Dead. They often have to balance this ability with their everyday responsibilities such as going to school, interacting with others, running a business, taking care of a family. And there is always the pressure that comes with having to hide this ability from those around them for fear that people might think they are crazy. So, when we speak of this recurring theme that seems to overpopulate our televisions during Halloween, it’s reasonable then to assume that perhaps these stories could exist within the same universe.
So to start, I feel for Sam. I really do. Just imagine, you are just minding your own business, doing what you do and suddenly boom! An accident later, you got these crazy powers that now you gotta figure out how to manage as well as figure out how this new ability is going to fit into your already busy life. You gotta admit, it’s a lot! Sam is constantly walking this tightrope of managing her own life while trying to manage this new and strange ability. And try as he might, her husband, Jay will never understand what she is dealing with. She’s like a mom really, having to take care of eight people who cannot do anything for themselves, in addition to starting a new business. For those who’ve seen the original BBC version of this show, Sam’s counterpart, Allison, has the same responsibility. We even got to see a typical morning in Button House, the original Woodstone Mansion. Allison would get up, inform her husband the bathroom was clear of ghosts so he’d feel comfortable using the loo. Then, she’d set her timer for the Captain to do his morning run, help Robin with his morning crossword puzzle, turn the computer on for Julian to play his game, turn pages in Humphrey’s and Kitty’s books, and help Mary with her reading, turn music on for Thomas, and put on tennis match videos for Pat. Sam’s done the same with her ghosts, throwing a prom for them, putting on the TV and movies for them and watching them with them, writing biographies and whatnot, sitting through therapy sessions with them, and even serving as a translator for a thrilling game of Dungeons and Dragons.
So far, Ghosts has theorized that the reason that Sam and Allison have the power to talk to ghosts is because they each sustained a head injury that put them so close to death. But I’m confident that within this universe, these women are not the only ones to sustain a blow to the skull or have narrowly escaped death in some way. There have to be others who have been in a coma for at least two weeks following some kind of accident. So how then can Sam and Allison be the only ones with a paranormal power? I say to you they are not. So submitted for the approval of #SummerofGhosts and of all Ghosties everywhere, I call this theory, “The Tale of the Shared Superpower.”
This is the story of a young woman named Samantha, Sam for short, who along with her handsome, yet nerdy husband , Jay, inherit a huge mansion from a late relative, allowing them opportunity to move out of their itty bitty NYC apartment and out to a grand estate with more land then they’d ever dream of owning. Enter a head injury later, and Sam returns home with the ability to see her ghostly roommates. Life carries on for her, her husband and her new friends as they begin to learn about one another, and learn to live with each other in harmony. But soon, Sam feels overwhelmed by the everyday responsibility of playing mother to a bunch of deceased adults. She loses her ability to set healthy boundaries and her anxiety and stress grows. Jay does what he can to support her, but because he is unable to fully understand the extent of such an isolating ability. We can look at past scenarios where people who were different or possessed powers and special skills were shunned. Hell, women who found ways to heal organically were seen as witches at one point and burned at the stake. Joan of Arc was burned to death for being able to talk with God. Sam begins to see this as more of a burden than a blessing. Her anxiety and stress lead to isolation and maybe a bit of depression as she has no outlet for her feelings, no one with whom she can share this experience and who in return would understand what she is going through.
As the Bed and Breakfast receives more visitors and receives more of a social media presence in addition to its presence on a variety of travel sites, it catches the attention of another from across the pond. Makayla Thompson is a young travel blogger and vlogger who documents her excursions across the globe for a travel magazine in her native London. Her love of travel started from a young age, as she had to move often for her American father’s military career. A woman of mixed race, she has had the fortune to use her travel writer career to visit the places from which her diverse family has come and consequently, discover her roots. In a break from her work, she attends a wedding at an old estate in the English countryside. During the course of the ceremony and during the reception she notices figures from different points in history strolling about the property. She is not shocked, however, for she too has the ability to see ghosts.
Makayla has had this ability for as long as she could remember. As a child, she’d see figures and hear voices everywhere she went. Her father took notice of what she could do and because he too had this power, he could help her better understand how to listen to these spirits and ultimately help them cross over. She did lose this ability sometimes after she entered secondary school, as she was more focused on her social relationships. She stopped believing in things that didn’t make sense and when that happened, her visions and the voices just stopped. But then, in her early 20s, she was involved in a car accident wherein she hit her head on the steering wheel, putting her in a coma for about two weeks. When she finally awoke and began her recovery, she found she was once again able to see and communicate with the dead. Now, as a side hobby, during her travels she seeks out and engages with Earthbound spirits who she finds are desperate to cross over. She learns about a new bed and breakfast owned by a distant relative of hers due to her familial research and decides to visit. She contacts the owner, Sam, and tells her that she is a travel writer for a UK publication and would like to cover her stay for her magazine. She books a few nights at the quaint Woodstone B&B and travels to the Hudson Valley, NY to check in as a guest and to document the hotel so as to bring attention to this cozy accomodation to her readers back in the UK.
By this time, Sam has found a way to manage her growing anxiety by putting her every bit of energy into running the B&B full time, sometimes working around the clock to cater to guests and to build its social media standing. She still feels close to the ghosts and still finds some time to continue to interact with them and provide for them what they ask of her. Her marriage however is struggling a bit, with Sam isolating from Jay. Jay does all he can to be supportive of his wife, even suggesting that she attend therapy. She is unsure if any therapist would understand and refuses, even though there’s a part of her that knows he is right. One day, Sam receives a request for reservation from a travel magazine writer. She is interested in learning more about the estate and promises to write a review of her stay to share with her readers in the UK. This is exciting news for Sam and Jay. They had been doing well in the area and hoped to extend their business to other parts of the Eastern seaboard but to have a write up in a magazine overseas would be unreal. They put in twice the work to prepare for the visit. Sam asks the ghosts if they would allow her a little space so that she can fully focus on ensuring this guest has a good experience. Even though they are a little hurt, the ghosts oblige, wanting to see Sam and Jay be successful. They continue to root for these kids. They cannot help it.
Makayla arrives in NY a bit earlier than she originally planned. The city is a very busy place for ghosts and she is almost overwhelmed by it all. The afternoon that she arrives at the Woodstone Mansion, she is unnaturally nervous. She’s traveled so many times before; why was this time different? She approaches the door and slowly reaches for the bell. As they normally do, Sam and Jay both answer the door and greet her with a warm and enthusiastic “Welcome to the Woodstone B&B!” She thanks them for their friendliness. Jay takes her bags to her room and Sam escorts her to the parlor where she officially checks her in. Things are normal so far.
Sam notices that Makayla seems a bit distracted during the check in process, as if she is looking for something. Sam carries on with checking her guest in and then shows her to her room.
Some time later, when Sam comes to notify Makayla that dinner is ready, she overhears her talking with what at first sounds like a phone call. Noticing that the door is merely cracked and not closed, she sneaks closer to see what the conversation could be about. Besides, this is a reviewer. This is someone who could potentially make or break them. It might be good to just get a better listen at least.
Of course they couldn’t stay away for long, she thinks after seeing Sass talking to her guest. Sam stays there for sometime, upon hearing the other voices as well. Seemingly, Makayla is very popular with the ghosts as they all have found a way to the guest room. But how was she talking to them? How were they having an entire conversation? Could she see them too? She had to know for sure. Knocking once, Sam asks if everything is alright to which Makayla says a resounding yes. She mentions they are alright. Hmm, they… why would she say they if Makayla thought it was really only her. Sam asks if she can come in, to which Makayla agrees. Upon seeing the ghosts and Makayla she reminds the ghosts that she had told them to give her guest some space. Makayla laughs and mentions that she had a feeling Sam knew she had ghosts in the house and then confirms her ability to see and hear them. She then mentions that she was at a wedding at a big house in her native England where the owner, Allison also could see and talk to the ghosts who reside there. She even mentions similarities between Sam’s ghosts and Allison’s ghosts. Sam confides in Makayla that she is only the second person after her husband who knows what she can do. To this, Makayla responds that there are more of them who have this ability, tells her story of when she learned she could communicate with the dead, how she met Allison and learned of her ability and once she hears how Sam gained this skill, she remarks at how eerily similar her experience was to both her own and Allison. Seems a good knock to the skull will do it…at first.
Makayla then goes on to let Sam know that they are related. She reveals that her father is American and was originally from Ohio. Upon researching her father’s side, she learns that his grandfather had a brother that turned out to be Sam’s great grandfather. And it is through this side that the ability to see and communicate with the dead reside. Makayla asks if Sam was able to see ghosts before her accident and at first she says no and then responds that she is unsure. Makayla responds that her father possesses this gift as did his mother and her father before her. Sam asks if she is also related to Hetty which peaks the middle-aged ghost’s interest. Makayla shakes her head and states that she does not descend from any Woodstones that she has been able to find. Rather she is related to Sam on the side that is not Woodstone and it is through that side that she inherits this ability. Fortunately with Makayla in her life now, she is no longer alone.
This is where I stop for now. As you can see, there’s a lot of possibility here, from the realization of a possible network of other ghost whisperers, if you will, to the ability to inherit this skill through one’s family much like one would inherit hand dominance or hair color. But the biggest thing I want to address with this theory is giving Sam an outlet… allowing her to experience some anxiety and distress over the isolation that having such a crazy ability can present. I want to see Sam struggle internally just a bit because it’s how good characters become better. Sam was freaked out for all of one and a half episodes just about and then just like that just said “Okay, this is something I can do… now on with my life,” much like Allison said in the original version. Fact is, most of us would freak the fuck out if we could suddenly see dead people out of no where, because friends, dead people would be every fucking where! There would be no getting away from them and I argue that although our ghosts are friendlies, there are still others who are probably pissed off that they are still here and have no way out. Gaining a power of this magnitude, and learning how to use this skill, would definately take time to come to terms with and to accept. They must be honed and the mind must be trained to separate and focus on one voice at a time, on one being at a time. Sam needs an outlet. She needs others like her, people they can talk to who get it, those who’ve been doing such work for a longer time, those who have found balance. People who can encourage her to take time for herself, to engage in self-care and to find a non-ghost related hobby that brings her joy. One cannot continue to fill the cup of others when they have nothing to pour out. It’s a full-time job, making the afterlives of dead people somewhat enjoyable. Come to think of it, we’ve never seen Sam do anything for herself or engage in any type of hobby. Without a supportive network, people who can encourage her to take care of her needs, internal conflict is bound to arise for Sam, and if that happens, it’s only a matter of time until it affects her behavior toward herself and the people in her life, with and without heartbeats.
So now, I pass the bag of special campfire dust onto you, fellow Ghostie. Would Sam do well to meet someone else with this special power? Do you think it might be her husband or someone else? Could this be an inherited ability? What other cool theories do you have about the characters? What kind of twist do you envision happening in the episodes yet to come? I’m excited to see what the next season brings and what kind of stories we get to watch. Until next time, stay Earthbound, friends.