I was writing an article when I realized I needed a clear idea about when this whole amateur investigation reality-television thing became popular. So, I started a list. (I’m a good Googler.) Here is a list of TV shows (series) that portray the paranormal as real or examine it as possibly real. Some are reality-type shows, some are documentaries. (Therefore, I have also included some shows on here of a skeptical nature.) Some are not wholly paranormal-themed but they contain an element that suggests a particular subject or event is beyond that which is currently accepted in the scientific community. I realize the line can be blurry.
Since one of my areas of interest is how the media promotes a view of science and the scientific to the public, I think the popularity of these shows is important. There is some research into how paranormal/supernatural themed shows affect the public belief in the paranormal, but there is LITTLE to NO research on how reality-type shows affects this or, regarding my interest, how the public perceives the “scientificity” of these shows.
I cataloged 125 shows ranging in premier dates from 1949 to some upcoming ones on the horizon. Many are available across the world and on DVD and even online. But, I stuck with only English-language shows. I wasn’t out to make a comprehensive list but if you have any additions or corrections, let me know.
I think you’ll notice some trends and copycat shows. Obviously, the proliferation of channels in the 21st century and the need for cheap and plentiful programming became a driving issue. You don’t have to pay amateurs who want a TV deal as much as professional actors. Yet, it presents a new and interesting perspective. And, there are possible ramifications for the public understanding of science.
More to come on that…