Guilty Pleasure No. 39: Ghost Whisperer


Once upon a time, there were two shows about women who could speak with the dead.

One show ran from 2005 to 2011.  It starred a future Oscar winner and, over the course of its run, it was nominated for a bunch of Emmys.  It may have never been a huge hit but it received decent ratings and, even more importantly, it was a critically acclaimed.  The show claimed to be based on fact and it took a low-key, procedural approach to its stories.

The second show ran from 2005 to 2010 and it starred a multiple Golden Globe nominee and it was never nominated for any major Emmys.  (The first season, however, did receive a Teen Choice nomination.)  Like the first show, it was never exactly a big hit, though it did have a loyal audience.  Whereas the first show was acclaimed by critics, the second show was routinely dismissed.  If the first show was subdued and low-key, this second show took the exact opposite approach.

The first show was called Medium.

The second show was called Ghost Whisperer.

I watched both of them and I can tell you that both had their strengths and their weaknesses.  Medium was, at time, genuinely creepy and Patricia Arquette gave an admirably serious performance.  At the same time, the show was often so serious that it was a bit of a drag to watch.  You may have believed that Arquette could talk to the dead but you never really bought into the idea that they would want to talk to her or anyone else on the show.  In short, Medium was good but it wasn’t much fun.

Ghost Whisperer, on the other hand…

Listen, I’m not even going to pretend that Ghost Whisperer was a great show.  It was a frequently silly and over-the-top show.  Jennifer Love Hewitt played Melinda Gordon, who lived in Grandview, New York and who owned an antique shop called — I kid you not — Same As It Never Was Antiques. The dead would come to Melinda because they still had feelings that needed to be resolved on Earth before they could cross over into the afterlife.  Sometimes the ghosts were in denial.  Sometimes they were rude, violent, and scary.  Sometimes they were just mildly quirky.  But they always ended up happy that Melinda was able to find a way for them to move on.  Over the course of five seasons, the show developed both the quirkiness of the town and the mythology behind the ghosts themselves.  We learned about the Watchers and the Shadows and the Shinies and the Book of Changes.  We also learned a bit about Melinda’s history.  Season 3 ended with Melinda helping her deceased father go into the light and you better believe I cried.

If Medium was an often dour, somber, and deliberately frumpy show, Ghost Whisperer was bright, fun, and unapologetically glamorous.  While poor Patricia Arquette always seemed to be carrying the entire weight of the world on her shoulders, Jennifer Love Hewitt always appeared to be having a blast playing Melinda.  While she may not have been as good as an actress as Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Love Hewitt always brought just enough natural enthusiasm to the role that she could make even the most hackneyed of dialogue believable.  When I looked over some of the reviews of Ghost Whisperer’s first season, the immediate thing that I noticed was that many of the critics (in particular, the male critics) were obsessed with pointing out that Jennifer Love Hewitt was continually dressed and filmed in such a way to emphasize her breasts, as if there’s some sort of crime in being proud of what you have.  But for me, as someone who shares the struggle of trying to find cute clothes for big boobs, it was empowering that Melinda didn’t hide her body, her personality, or her beliefs.  As played by Hewitt, Melinda was confident,  outspoken, and unapologetic.  Yes, she dressed a certain way.  Yes, she looked a certain way.  Yes, she believed that she could help ghosts cross over.  And if anyone had a problem with it, so what?  Melinda was a role model who never really got her due.  If I ever find myself speaking to ghosts, I hope that I handle it half as well as Melinda did.

Ghost Whisperer ended in 2010 and Medium ended in 2011.  Medium may have been nominated for more awards but guess which one I’ll always make a point to watch in syndication?

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars

14 responses to “Guilty Pleasure No. 39: Ghost Whisperer

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