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Ghosts

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Paul Asay
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Samantha sees dead people.

It’s a new thing for her. Ever since she took a tumble down the stairs and “died” for a good three minutes, the opaque curtain between life and death has been more like plastic wrap. Now, it seems that she’s one of the lucky few who get to talk with the organically challenged—those who haven’t been whisked off to the traditional afterlife and are instead stuck here with the living.

And man, are there a lot of dead people to see.

Blame HGTV.

WRAITH HEALER

It all started when Samantha inherited a massive 300-year-old  house in the country from one of her otherwise relative-less relatives. Though she and husband, Jay, were doing just fine for themselves in New York City, the charm of this monstrous mansion was just too much for Samantha. She knew that with a little fresh paint, new plumbing and loads of tutorials from home renovation experts, she and Jay could turn the place into a fantastic B&B.

“You’re a chef!” she tells Jay. “That’s half of the ‘B’s’ right there!”

But after she trips on a vase and tumbles down the stairs, Samantha suddenly finds that she and Jay are living with the non-living—unfortunate souls who’d died both tragically and comically on the property. From a Viking named Thorfin to a hippie named Flower, many a ghost has a sad story to tell. And now—after all these years/decades/centuries—they have someone new to tell it to.

All this extra company occasionally puts a strain on Samantha’s many home-improvement ambitions and, occasionally, her marriage. Few of us would want ghosts tipping over teacups, much less materializing in our bedrooms to sing jazz standards. But she and Jay have too much money sunk into this place to back out now. They’ll just have to make it work.

Besides, these ghosts have a way of winning over their spirits–and their affections.

GRIM FROWNING GHOSTS

CBS’ Ghosts is an American remake of a 2019 comedy of the same name on Britain’s BBC 1. I can’t vouch for the quality of the original. But the American version feels clever, if a little uninspired. The jokes feel predictable. The setup feels familiar (at least if you’ve seen Ricky Gervais in Ghost Town).

And that’s before you navigate the show’s considerable content issues.

Now, certainly, many shows—perhaps most shows—have more to worry about in terms of sex and violence and whatnot. But for a TV-PG program, Ghosts has more problems than you might expect.

We’re talking about dead people, first of all, who all bear the instruments of their own destruction. While the wounds aren’t too grotesque and it’s all played for laughs, you do have a resident who lost his head when he lost his life. It sometimes falls to the ground, leaving a walking body with a bloody stump on top. Others met their ends from bear attacks or arrows to the neck. Not to mention the collective group of creepy ghouls in the basement.

You’re stuck with the same clothes you were wearing when you died, too, and one ghost died without his pants on (likely while in the midst of an illicit tryst). While most of his critical parts are covered by his shirt most of the time, he sometimes lifts his arms up—necessitating suggestive pixelation. Another ghost is gay and, though he comes from the Revolutionary War period, he still finds himself engaged to another male ghost from the same time period. Another character was apparently part of two, shall we say, unconventional marriages. Still, others get into relationships and openly talk about their sex lives.

Spirits, sexual allusions and crude jokes seem to go hand-in-hand here. Oh, and we hear bathroom humor along with some profanity (which feels like too much for this TV-PG series).

And need I say that, given the premise of the show, we deal with some rather questionable theology? Certainly Ghosts suggests that the soul is eternal … but it’s also easily stuck outside the (rather nebulous) afterlife.

Episode Reviews

Feb. 15, 2024–S3, E1: “The Owl”

A ghost named Flower is taken up into “paradise.” Samantha and her husband try to renovate their barn, but their attempts are delayed when Thor believes that an owl is really his lover, Flower, reincarnated.

When Flower leaves for paradise, the ghosts use a term for her departure that could also refer to a sexual act. (This joke and its crude sexual connotations is used in many conversations.)

Two male ghosts are engaged and attempt to plan their engagement party amidst the chaos and speak about their desired “betrothal.”

A male ghost says that he can feel a breeze around his nether-regions. Thor says that he and Flower practiced “positions unseen in a thousand orgies.” A female ghost was “high and naked” in a picture, although we only see her bare shoulders.

A female ghost says that she once had to apologize to a family because their child, a factory worker, was killed when their hair was pulled into a loom.

Thor threatens to burn down a barn in his anger.

Samantha’s husband tells Thor that he believes in reincarnation, something that Thor begins to believe himself. A female ghost says that when ghosts leave earth they go “to paradise.” Another says that they simply “move on.”

The phrase “Oh god” is repeated multiple times, as is the phrase “p-ss off.” Words such as “d–n,” “a–” and “h—” are heard a few times. A ghost says “cheese and crackers” a few times.

Oct. 7, 2021 – S1, E1: “Pilot”

Samantha and Jay are willed a massive home in the country. Jay wants to sell the thing, but Samantha would like to live there—perhaps turning the mansion into a beautiful bed and breakfast. But when Samantha takes a tumble, the story takes a turn.

Samantha falls down the stairs after tripping on a vase. And while the scene is played for laughs, she “dies” during the fall. (She’s later revived, but she still spends multiple weeks in a coma.) The ghosts, obviously, know what it feels like to die—and we see wounds on several. One man suffers the indignity of having his head knocked off, revealing a bloody stump underneath. (When the head is safely mounted on the body, you still see a suggestive bloody line across his neck.) Another walks with an arrow through his neck. Still another shows off some claw marks from a bear. The previous owner of the house dies in bed, with her spirit quickly zipping off to the show’s version of an afterlife.

Ghosts ogle the new living arrivals. When one says that Samantha’s body is “slamming,” a queer Revolutionary War vet thinks he’s referring to husband Jay. “Indeed, he would make a fine militiaman!” he says. We hear several other references from him expressing his appreciation for the male form (particularly Jay’s male form).

Other ghosts are aghast at Samantha’s short skirt. They muse that it would be fun to watch a young couple in their house. “H— yeah!” says one, with another meaning in mind. We see two people make out in bed. A ghost mentions that she had been married to two separate couples in her life—one in a commune and another in a cult. Samantha and Jay apparently engage in HGTV roleplaying games. And when Jay suggests they shake things up a bit, Samantha says, “don’t kink-shame me.” After Jay and Samantha fight, a dead Viking says that Jay won’t be “laying with her for several moons.” We see the pixelated privates of a ghost.

We hear one use of the word “b–tard” and other scattered profanities, including “h—” and “d–n.” God’s name is misused about 10 times.

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paul-asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

kristin-smith
Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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