Reality TV’s 5 Best Paranormal Shows

AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” FX’s “American Horror Story.” And NBC’s all new ghoulish series premiere of “Grimm.” Scripted television is finally getting the hint from the successes of reality TV that stories on the dead are ratings gold.

Since the scariest time of the year is fast approaching, what better way to freak ourselves out than to chat about the best paranormal reality TV out there. Sure, the supernatural-reality world is as ubiquitous as candy corn, but we’ve round up our top creep-fests.

Ghost Adventures (Travel Channel)
Think of it as “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” meets the supernatural world—hilarious in that “dude!” sorta way and slightly scary at the same time.

Even though “Ghost Adventures” is a few years old (it premiered in 2008), we still can’t get enough of trio Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin traveling the country with their ghostbusting detector gadgets and occasionally getting “possessed” by violent spirits, seeing freaky old lady apparitions in rundown insane asylums, and screaming out “Hey, bra! Whoa, you got scratch marks on the back of your leg, man!”

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The only legit moments that are spine tingling are when the crew uses their digital voice recorders to play back voices of the dead—especially if the voices are supposedly little children. Eeeek! Oh, and another thing worth mentioning: Zak’s schizo hair gives us nightmares, too.

Celebrity Ghost Stories (bio.)
Do famous people sometimes see the undead? Apparently, they do, which is what makes “Celebrity Ghost Stories” doubly fascinating.


From Jerry Stiller to Bret Michaels to Joan Rivers—these celebrities all have their own personal haunted experiences—(although we think Joanie may have just seen a reflection of her own face). Thankfully, the show’s dramatizations aren’t too cheesy, which adds to the creepy factor…but you know what’s even more creepy? Listening to Marilyn Manson share his story about his brush with Satanism! When we saw this episode, our hair turned whiter than his foundation!

Paranormal Challenge (Travel Channel)
We find this series hilarious even though it’s not necessarily supposed to be. Hosted by “Ghost Adventures” Zak Bagans, “Paranormal Challenge” is a competition, in which two teams—armed with ridiculous amounts of ghost-detecting contraptions—attempt to capture the most impressive evidence of paranormal activity in a haunted location.

Even though most of it plays out in the dark, it’s hardly scary. Rather, it’s just fun to watch Joe Smith and Grandma Jean go hog wild in creepy and unfamiliar territory.

Paranormal State (A&E)
Headed by founder Ryan Buell, a bunch of collegiate kiddies (a.k.a. Paranormal Research Society) go on a rampage looking for ghosts and demonic phenomena across the country.

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Although we find Ryan’s dramatic narration a bit annoying, we dig “Paranormal State.” There’s a reason why it’s one of the top-rated shows on A&E—it’s actually kinda spooky. It also seems a little more believable than the other ghosthunting shows since the investigative team doesn’t always find paranormal activity in every location.

Long Island Medium (TLC)
There’s always a teensie bit of creepy in any show dealing with the dead, but “Long Island Medium” offers a lot more sentimentality, along with a touch of intentional humor.

It’s trippy to watch medium Theresa Caputo get bombarded by spirits desperately trying to communicate with their loved ones as she tries to run to the bagel store or get her oil checked.

And although we’re mostly sniffling along with her clients as they hear messages from their deceased friends and family, the two things that manage to frighten us every time we see them are Theresa’s French manicure and porcupine hairdo. Must be a Long Island thing.


The Dead Files (Travel Channel)

Can you imagine actually feeling a ghost lay on top of you while you’re trying to fall asleep? This is one of the many reasons why “The Dead Files” is by far the scariest series we’ve seen—literally, no bones about it.

It’s an interesting twist on paranormal reality TV in that you have a retired NYPD homicide detective Steve Di Schiavi and physical medium Amy Allan separately investigating the same haunted location via very different methods and at the end of the show, come together to compare their findings.

Steve and Amy are an interesting dichotomy of characters, and the fact that the latter can actually become possessed by a spirit gives us ridic goosebumps.


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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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