Getting STRANDED: A letter from @joshuagates.
First off, I want to say thanks. Thanks to everyone who has watched STRANDED so far and to everyone thinking about tuning in tonight. Our first four episodes have been a blast to share with you, and I’m thrilled that so many people are enjoying and talking about the show.
Last week’s episode was a wild ride and probably the most polarizing episode yet. Many of you expressed support for Shannon, who came unglued during her residency at Burn Brae Manor. Others were much less sympathetic to her plight and found her breakdown frustrating. Her fear inspired many of you to ask questions that get to the very heart of what STRANDED is all about. What do we expect from our participants? What makes someone a good candidate? What is evidence and what is perception? And most importantly, how can one get on the show?
So. I thought I’d offer my two cents.
When we set out to create a new paranormal series for Syfy, it was really important to me that we not forge a cookie cutter replica of an existing format. To those who have voiced an opinion that the participants on STRANDED aren’t “professionals,” you’re exactly right. To be frank, I think Syfy has enough professional paranormal investigators. Between the Ghost Hunters, the Zaffis family, team DT, Haunted Highway, etc., it feels to me that the channel is bursting at the seams with seasoned paranormal sleuths (I’ll reserve judgment on the “Deep South Paranormal” team, but they get an A+ in beard grooming). STRANDED, on the other hand, offers something that we haven’t seen much of in paranormal programming: raw emotion.
When we watch Jason and the GH team on an investigation, they don’t break down and sob - and we don’t expect them to. They’re doing a job, and as viewers, we hold them to a level of professionalism while they do it. But out in the world, my experience has been that many of the people who have encountered a paranormal event are terrified by it. When you meet someone who claims to live in a haunted house, they almost never have the benefit of using a thermal imager or an EMF detector. They simply saw something or heard something. In short, they experienced the unknown and investigated it with the only tools at their disposal: their eyes and ears. STRANDED invites people to move into a number of these purportedly haunted locations to see if they experience the same phenomena as those who came before them. It isn’t about conducting a perfect investigation, scrutinizing every electromagnetic spike, or doing a formal evidence review with a client. Rather, it’s an experiential investigation that challenges the participants to debate and evaluate their views on the paranormal while conducting a very personal search for evidence of the unknown.
The question I’m interested in is how a person’s observations mingle with fear, paranoia, blind faith, and hardened skepticism in these environments. As viewers, we get the opportunity to watch the participants through a voyeuristic lens and make our own judgments about what constitutes evidence of the paranormal, and what is a product of the mind’s eye. Some investigations are going to be thorough; others are going to be fraught with hysteria. The show offers a democratic look at real people coming face to face with the unknown. The results are often terrifying, uncomfortable, occasionally hilarious, and always unpredictable.
Over the last few years, I’ve received countless letters and e-mails asking how fans of Destination Truth could be guest investigators on the show. We loved the idea, but with insurance, safety, and scheduling concerns, it proved too difficult to realize. Similarly, when I’ve hosted Ghost Hunters Live, fans have been hugely invested in the show. The channel has even made a point of offering exclusive online cameras, chat rooms, and the infamous “panic button” to directly involve viewers with the investigation. For me, STRANDED grew out of this direct feedback that so many of you offered up. And so. This is a show designed for you. If you’re a fan of the paranormal (believer or skeptic), this is a series that you can not only appear in, but decide the content and film your own investigation.
(To those asking about why I’m not in the show: I don’t think I belong in it, though I appreciated the support! STRANDED tells the stories of the participants. I think their experience and footage should speak for itself).
To the thousands of people who have reached out asking about how to be on the show, the answer is simple: keep watching it and get others to watch it! Our sincere hope is that Syfy orders another season of the show and that we’ll be able to offer many more people the opportunity to get STRANDED.
I’m really encouraged by all of the positive feedback. We made STRANDED for you, and whether you love the show or it occasionally drives you nuts, I think the series is provoking fascinating debates about the paranormal. I look forward to continuing to hear from you in the weeks ahead and, hopefully, to inviting anyone who's interested to star on future episodes of STRANDED.
Cheers and best wishes!
STRANDED. Wednesdays at 10/9c on Syfy.