Dead End: Paranormal Park

Paranormal Park





Marsella Evans

TV Series Review

Most amusement park haunted houses are filled with animatronic spiders and scary strobe lights and ghosts stuffed in every closet. But the haunted house where Barney and Norma work—well, not all the scares are just technological creations. And the ghosts? Zombies? Demons? Yeah, they can be quite real in this theme park.

Blame the dog. Barney’s demon-possessed dog.

Things That Go Bump in the Park

This spooky show is in the same animated tradition of Gravity Falls. But this one is different, and not just because takes place in a theme park instead of a tourist trap. The characters are also meant to check the box labeled “diverse.”

Barney, the main character, is trans, and his counterpart Norma is neurodiverse (a term sometimes given to those on the autism spectrum or those whose thought patterns are atypical). The two have to face their anxieties, learn to trust each other, and grow as people while stopping the piece of demon- soul trapped in Barney’s dog Pugsley from causing various shennagians.

See, this green glowing guy—a demon-king named Temeluchus—needs to possess something to be alive, and Pugsley is as good a vessel as any. Because Pugsley still obeys Barney’s commands (mostly), Barney and Norma are able to keep the demon under some semblance of control.

Meanwhile, seemingly friendly red demon Courtney accompanies them on their escapades and she helps them on occasion … when it’s worth her while. A a few demon books and Norma’s detailed knowledge of the park also help them keep everything under control. Together they stop the crazy happenings in the park from causing harm to themselves and others. After all, what else would they do with their time?

The show is meant for a younger audience. Obviously, the fact that Paramormal Park features a trans character will be a deal-killer for many families. And if that’s not enough to dissuade, the inescapable demonic elements likely will be.

It’s too bad that the setup of the show is so problematic. It’s funny, ironic and well paced. The writing is fun, creative and clean … aside from the difficulty of a trans protagonist and a demon antagonist.

Dead End: Paranormal Park will probably not be a show that most families will want to visit.

Episode Reviews

June 16, 2022—S1, Ep1: “The Job”

Barney and Norma meet on the bus to a job interview at Phoenix Park. Norma knows all about the suspicious park from her past research, but Barney just wants an escape from his parents’ expectations. The two discover that the interview is actually a plot to find someone for the demon king to possess, and they have to get Pugsley back when he becomes the unfortunate vessel.

Barney has a contentious relationship with his family. Norma is sheltered and struggles with typical social interaction.

The genre of the show is a blend of fantasy and horror, so it includes hauntings, ghosts, and all sorts of supernatural bad guys. None of the origins of these being are explained much, but it is established that Courtney has been cursed to live at the park and serve the demon king, who can blast demons out of existence with some sort of green energy.

Norma and Barney are almost hurt falling off an amusement park ride, but they manage to save Pugsley in the end by capturing the demon king’s soul in a picture.

Barney starts sleeping at the park in a coffin to avoid his parents and learns that Pugsley can now talk because a bit of the demon king is still inside him.

June 16, 2022—S1, Ep2: “The Tunnel”

Norma and Barney start their day at work with orientation, and a big group of retired mascots have  somehow come to life. Barney must adjust to life with a talking dog,. The gang has to figure out how to settle down the mascots, who are scaring guests.

The episode shows Norma’s anxiety when she was little, and Barney considers his challenges getting his family to accept his new trans identity. He tells Norma that he is trans and enjoys being at the park because people don’t have previous perceptions of him.

Barney begins to develop a crush on fellow male park employee, Logan. Barney says that Pugsley is his family.


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Marsella Evans 2022 intern
Marsella Evans

Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.

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