Revisiting the Most WTF Parts of the Most WTF Show: Jennifer Love Hewitt's 'Ghost Whisperer'
Friends, since I started writing for Pajiba last summer, I have occasionally mentioned my love for Ghost Whisperer on the Overlord Slack, and it is always met with crickets because, apparently, there are no other Ghost Whisperer lovers on the staff. That’s crazy to me, because the show is absolutely bonkers in a way that no other show I’ve ever watched is and it’s given me a lot of joy over the years. So much so that I wanted to outline some of the most WTF moments over the course of its five seasons in the hopes that I can inspire someone, anyone, to let the sheer insanity of Melinda Gordon and crew enter into their lives as well. Won’t you join me?
Note: Obviously there are spoilers here, but honestly, Ghost Whisperer isn’t really a show that you can get spoiled on because every episode is basically the same.
First off, to appreciate Ghost Whisperer, you need to know what it’s all about. The pilot episode begins with Melinda Gordon and Jim Clancy on their wedding day. Melinda has a heartfelt moment with Jim’s brother, where he tells her all about the kind of guy Jim is (I mean, I hope she knew already, she did just marry him) only twist Jim’s brother has been dead the entire time. Welcome to Ghost Whisperer, friends.
Also, Jim and Melinda met because he was a paramedic, and her apartment burned down. Also, at some point in the show he goes to night classes and becomes a doctor, because if I know anything, it’s that accredited medical programs offer night school.
Almost every single episode follows the following formula:
Ghost haunts someone in a spooky way, appearing decayed or in the manner in which they died.
Melinda sees said ghost, in some contrived manner, but she is never scared. She is the Ghost Whisperer.
Melinda tells person being haunted that they’re haunted, but person refuses to believe Melinda.
Spooky thing happens.
Melinda approaches person being haunted. They believe her this time. They are ready for Melinda to whisper to the ghost.
Melinda confronts ghost. It stops being scary-looking and now looks like how they did in life.
Ghost asks Melinda to solve a mystery or do a personal favor for them.
Ghost comes to original haunting person to apologize and say goodbye, which Melinda will convey to formerly haunted person.
Ghost goes into the light.
Seems simple and dumb, right?!
Wrong. So, so, so, so wrong.
See, the genius of Ghost Whisperer is the blaséness of which they treat death, and the increasing ridiculousness in which people die and what favors they ask her to do.
The Ghost Dog and the Orphans
One of my favorite episodes is early on in Season 1, because it sets the tone. A bunch of orphans died in a fire, which is treated as some whimsical experience, and now they’re child ghosts haunting a building that is going up for auction, along with their ghost dog. Melinda, of course, gets the Orphans to cross over once she finds their long-lost friend who survived the fire, but the Ghost Dog remains…and remains. She brings in Caesar Milan at one point to try to get the Ghost Dog to go into the light. Ghost Dog never does and eventually she stops mentioning Ghost Dog. For all we know, the Ghost Dog is still with Melinda to this day.
In season one, Melinda’s sidekick was played by Aisha Tyler, who was honestly far too good to be on the show. I’m sure Aisha agreed, which is why she was really only on for one season. You know how they write her off the show? They drop a literal full-size plane full of ghosts onto her car. She is the only on-ground casualty of the plane crash. These things happen. Melinda’s unfortunate task is to gently let Aisha know that she’s dead (sometimes ghosts don’t know that on the show) and then help her cross over. The process is complicated by a weird, scary looking dude who pops up to terrorize Aisha’s character*, but this is Ghost Whisperer after all, and Melinda helps her cross over.
(This is the ghost plane getting ready to cross over, obviously)
*This scary guy is set up to clearly be a massive antagonist for Melinda for the season and yet? He’s never seen or mentioned again. Plotlines get picked up and dropped at an alarming rate on this show. You’re lucky if they hastily kill off someone just to show that they’re gone, and basically, they always kill off the person because why not? This is a show about whispering to ghosts, after all. The cheerful acceptance the leads feel towards death on this show is alarming to the outside observer.
After Aisha leaves, Melinda becomes friends with a professor of the occult played by Jay Mohr. He mainly exists to pine after happily married Melinda, so he leaves the show for reasons after season 2, I think to go study witchcraft in the jungle, or something like that, which means we get a new sidekick…
Jamie Kennedy, who twist, can also whisper to ghosts. Only unlike Melinda, he cannot see ghosts. That leads to some funny exchanges between the two, or at least what passes for funny exchanges in Ghost Whisperer. I should note that Jennifer Love Hewitt was dating Jamie Kennedy at the time. I should also note that his character’s parents are dead in the series, and Melinda helps them come to terms with the fact that his mom was a lesbian unbeknownst to his dad. The twist is, they both decide to stick around, living in their son’s home, unasked, for the rest of eternity instead of crossing over. Ok!
Camryn Manheim was there, also.
Her Husband Dies, But It’s Ok!
So, Christine Baranski has one episode on the series where she plays Jim’s mom. Keep in mind that she only has one child because her other son has died (Is wedding ghost brother ringing any bells?!?!) Guess what? Jim dies too! Don’t worry, Christine Beranski is never mentioned again, so you don’t have to deal with the crushing reality of a mother who has lost all of her children. Forget it, it’s Ghost Whisperer!
Also not to worry, because Jim, instead of crossing over, decides to jump into the body of a man who is brain dead, because that’s a thing that can happen once or twice on Ghost Whisperer and never mentioned again.
Here’s the real twist—Jim can’t remember he’s Jim, he thinks he’s the dead guy (not-Jim), but Melinda knows, and only sees Jim in the husk of the other guy. Everyone else thinks the other guy had a miraculous recovery. (Everyone in not-Jim’s life is handily cut out of his life, so you know, I guess that little part doesn’t really matter.) So obviously Melinda has not-Jim move on to her property and is really alarmed when not-Jim’s ex shows up to woo him back. She’s played by Teri Polo but it doesn’t matter, because not-Jim sort of dies again, only he’s revived by Melinda and now he knows he’s not not-Jim, but Jim-Jim! Hooray! No one ever mentions the fact that Melinda gets with the dude who moves onto her property less than a week after her husband died, not even the mailman.
Also, this song is played every time Melinda stares at longingly at not-Jim. Here is a Ghost Whisperer fan video set to the song in an alarmingly low-res video. You’re welcome.
The guy who plays Jim in all of his ghostly and earthly iterations is very good looking, also.
The Undertaker Who Dumped Bodies
Of all the WTF plotlines on the show, this is probably one of them.
Long story short, an undertaker named Carl was dumping bodies in a lake rather than properly burying or cremating them. That pisses off the spirits in charge of the afterlife (who we were only introduced to the concept of in that very episode, if I recall) so they make Carl become a watcher, and from then on, he pops up to give Melinda warnings and tell her when things are about to go down. He’s ok, I guess. He mainly just, ya know, watches.
Melinda and Jim’s Son
So Melinda and Jim have a son in season 5. His name is Aiden and he’s the f*cking worst. The season opens by skipping 5 years ahead, so now we have to deal with a f*cking child Ghost Whisperer. No one wants that, but the best part about this kid is that he looks like a meat suit of Jim’s original, now decaying body, and not like the meat suit that Jim’s spirit is currently inhabiting, and yet? They never mention how or why that is. Ghost sperm must be powerful stuff. At least on Ghost Whisperer.
There is a City Underneath a City, Where Ghosts Roam the Underworld.
This is mentioned a few times, Melinda goes and pokes around, and as far as I know, it’s never mentioned again. Maybe this is where the Ghost Dog went?
Season three is all about her dad, and twist! It turns out her dad isn’t who she thought he was. Also, a ghost possesses his body right before he tries to kill Melinda, and throws him down a flight of stairs killing him instead. Also, twist, who she thought was her dad wasn’t actually her dad, and her biological dad has been dead and literally buried in the basement of the house she grew up in, for the past 30 years. Final twist, he was the ghost that possessed her not-dad’s body to kill him. Oh Ghost Whisperer, never change.
None of what Melinda wears while she’s out awhisperin’ is practical. In fact they could usually be classified as ball gowns. They are glorious.
Friends, these are only the plot points that I thought up in the first five minutes of brainstorming about what made Ghost Whisperer, Ghost Whisperer. I hope it has inspired you to take a chance on this insane show, because it has given me hours and hours of enjoyment. I’m sure it will do the same for you.
Header Image Source: ABC Television
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