Ghost Whisperer

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Welcome to day seven of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge. This evening we will take a look at a young woman with a rather unique ability. To a horse whisperer, the ability to speak with horses is a wonderfully rewarding gift, but for a ghost whisperer, I suspect you could consider this ability more of a curse. Sure, she gets to meet new people, but they’re generally not in the best of moods!

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 Jennifer Love Hewitt, star of Ghost Whisperer. Photo by Tom Sorensen.

Poor Jennifer Love Hewitt. If she isn’t being chased by an anonymous slasher killer (I Know What You Did Last Summer), she is followed through her home and popular antiques store by anonymous ghosts! Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer, a woman who had the ability to see and speak to ghosts. She tries desperately to live a normal life with her new husband, and run a successful business (Same as it Never was Antiques–great name!), but the ghosts always seem to get in the way.

Due to her supernatural abilities to communicate with ghosts, Gordon feels a responsibility to these earth-bound spirits, a moral obligation to help them solve whatever unresolved issue is keeping them tied to this earthly plain so they can walk into the light. In some ways, Ghost Whisperer is a mystery. In order to assist the ghosts, Gordon must first investigate the reasons why the spirit is bound to the earth. Generally, the clues come to her in a rather violent manner–ghosts can be noisy, obnoxious creatures when they’re trying to get your attention!

Melissa Gordon

Melinda Gordon lives in a fictional city called Grandview, which is in New York. Melinda’s work with ghosts involves a variety of tasks. Generally, though, she must pass on a message to someone who is still living, thus resolving the unresolved issue that keeps the ghost hanging around.

An example of the “message” is “Life on the Line,” one of my favorite episodes, and one of the saddest episodes. (Of course, when you’re dealing with the dead, all episodes are sad.) Melinda’s assistant, Delia (Camryn Manheim), is trying to buy a new home, but she keeps receiving a 911 call about a boy who was run over by a lawn mower. Melinda connects with the ghost of a boy named Josh who clearly is trying to bring his family back together after the tragic loss of their youngest son.

The message involves a lie, and this is the mystery Melinda must solve. After a great deal of investigative work she ends up at the hospital with the family. Devin, the older son, has been injured. The family is all there, and Melinda tells them that Josh wants them to stop fighting over “the lie.” This creates some confusion among the family members until it is revealed that the father took responsibility for the death of Josh. In reality, Josh insisted on riding on the tractor mower with his older brother and was rough-housing when he fell and was run over by the mower. Devin feels responsible for the accident and emotionally devastated by the fact that his father took responsibility for the accident. Josh feels that he has destroyed his family by causing his own death and cannot move on. Josh and Devin’s parents finally tell their sons they love them both, that the accident was just an accident and no one’s fault, and Melinda helps Josh move into the light.

The inability of the ghosts to move on is not due to some sin they committed, but their own guilt or fear of judgment. Melinda helps them clear their conscience. She plays both investigator and psychologist in this show.

Melinda’s Family, Friends, and Assistants

Thankfully, Melinda Gordon does not live or work alone. I would think the stress of day to day hauntings would drive her insane without a little help from her family and friends! She is married to Jim Clancy (David Conrad), an paramedic/firefighter who eventually becomes a doctor, and her son, Aiden Lucas (Connor Gibbs). Melinda’s relationship with her husband takes a strange turn in 2009, and personally, I suspect this may have had something to do with the show’s cancellation. Jim is killed while on duty and rather than “stepping into the light,” he steps into the body of a dying man, Sam. Melinda quickly figures out that Sam is her husband, but Sam is doubtful. The audience sees Sam as David Conrad, so they have no doubt that Jim has taken over Sam’s body. When Sam finally realizes that he is Jim, at the end of the season, the couple also learns that they are pregnant with a son, and their son eventually has even stronger supernatural abilities than his mother. It was an interesting creative risk, but I thought it was too much of a stretch and didn’t like the Jim/Sam switch.

In the early seasons she has a close friend and assistant, Andrea Marino, played by Aisha Taylor. Marino is Melinda’s best friend and helps her run the antique store. At the end of the first season, Andrea is tragically killed, but her death is referred to often throughout the run of the show.

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Camryn Manheim plays Delia Banks in Ghost Whisperer. Photo by David Shankbone. 

Melinda then meets Delia Banks (Camryn Manheim), who is one of my favorite characters. Banks is trying, unsuccessfully, to make a living as a real estate agent to support herself and her son, Ned (Tyler Patrick Jones for seasons 2-3, then Christopher Sanders) and eventually works with Melinda in the antique store. Ned, her son, catches on to Melinda’s gift fairly quickly, though Banks takes a long time to realize that Melinda communicates with ghosts. When she first learns that Melinda is struggling with something supernatural, she suggests Melinda might need a psychologist, but she eventually accepts the fact that Melinda is gifted.

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Jay Mohr plays Professor Rick Payne in Ghost Whisperer.

Melinda also works closely with a Professor Rick Payne, played by Jay Mohr. Payne works at Rockland University and assists Melinda in the investigative part of her work, as well as trying to figure out what the ghost wants her to do. Payne is literally a pain at first. He is obnoxious and irritating at times and begins the show by mocking Melinda’s claim that she can communicate with spirits, but his character gradually becomes more comforting and friendly. He leaves in the fourth season for the Himalayas.

The Beginning and End of the Ghost Whisperer

The Ghost Whisperer pilot aired on CBS from September 23, 2005. Jennifer Love Hewitt was one of the producers. The show was based on the work of clairvoyant and spiritual medium James Van Praagh. The individual stores were inspired by the work of television personality Mary Ann Winkowski who also has paranormal experiences. The show was cancelled on May 18, 2010 after five seasons.

I believe Ghost Whisperer was cancelled for two reasons. First, I think the death of Melinda’s husband and his entry into Sam’s body was too far-fetched for many viewers, including me. I also believe the show ran out of stories–how many times can you create a unique plot with the same basic outline? Someone dies, they remain on earth due to unfinished business, and Melinda helps them walk into the light. Eventually, the episodes begin to resemble each other and lose their originality.

Sources:

  • Dos Santos, Kristen. “Who Got Jennifer Love Hewitt Pregnant?” EOnline News. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  • Ghost Whisperer. Dir. Kim Moses. Creator: John Gray. Perf. Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad, Jay Mohr, Camryn Manheim. Sander/Moses Productions, CBS Paramount Network Television, ABC Studios. Running Time: 44 min.