I feel like this blog doesn't always go a good job of honoring Lifetime's true contribution to the cultural landscape. Lifetime movies are all well and good, but what does the network do the rest of the time? Lifetime-caliber actresses can realistically only do so many terrible TV movies before they OD on painkillers or are lured away by sweet NutriSystem endorsement deals. Even accounting for reruns of The Golden Girls, this can leave gaps of 3 hours or more in Lifetime's daily programming. Luckily, reality shows can fill that gap by being inexpensive and feeding on the average person's shameless love of voyuerism to draw in viewers. Unfortunately for the Lifetime network, most good ideas for reality shows have already been stolen by Big Broadcasting. We can only thank the muses that, in their divine wisdom, smacked Lifetime's programming executives upside the head with a slice of fried gold called America's Psychic Challenge! I watched the pilot episode thanks to MyLifetime, and let me tell you, it is exactly as amazing as it sounds.
Have you ever won a round of "What Number am I Thinking Of?" Are you a real whiz at Go Fish? Have you ever gotten a nosebleed while listening to Don't Fear the Reaper? Then you may be ready to compete with these entry-level witches and warlocks:
Jackie Barret: Oh lordy. Jackie is a psychic spirit and medium who works on America's Most Wanted and is a member of the Voodoo Temple of New Orleans, where she earned the name "White Serpent" by "walking with the dead". I am not exactly sure how walking with the dead works, but I have seen all of the Evil Dead movies, so I guess at some point she had to murder a bunch of coeds in a cabin? Anyway, however one walks with the dead, it seems to involve being a massive bitch to everyone you interact with. This lady is reality TV gold in all of her skin-crawly glory.
Jamie Clark: Jamie is a daytime radio host who also happens to have psychic powers. He shares these powers with the world through empowerment seminars and taking calls from his gullible listeners. How can we not believe in a psychic with such luminous contemporaries as Rush Limbaugh, Joel Osteen, and those guys who rent conference rooms at the Hilton to trick you into selling door-to-door knives? Jamie has this annoying hyper energy usually associated with gym teachers and golden retrievers, and I hate him.
Karyn Reese: Karyn is a former stockbroker who decided she could no longer ignore her psychic abilities and decided to leave the financial world in favor of spoonbending at county fairs (or tarot reading, I forget). Is it a coincidence that she "rediscovered" her abilities about the same time the market bottomed out? Heavens no.
Zenobia Simmons: Besides being named like a Star Trek villain, Miss Zenobia just isn't that interesting. She's a psychic seer that is more bubbly and enthusiastic then a kindergarten spelling bee contestant, and I guess she is a record executive, though I doubt she remained one for every long after people saw her on this show.
So in every show, there are three psychic challenges for the Midnight Society to overcome. The challenges for this show were:
1: Where's Waldo? For the first challenge each psychic was taken to a condemned hospital and asked to locate someone hiding on the second floor. Though every psychic took time to note that someone had been in "intense pain" in the building and spent hours pawing walls and muttering about energy, not a single Merlin among them actually located the hidden dude successfully. Jamie picked the room next to Waldo, which was allowed for partial credit. Zenobia picked wrong and whined about how she hated being in spooky places, which is weird from someone who claims to communicate with the dead, but whatever. Jackie and Karyn, who also failed completely, blamed the ghosts of the dead for hanging around and crowding the live dude's aura. It takes some real balls to pin your failures on a dead guy, but the psychics rose to the challenge!
2: Guess Who: Celebrity Edition Each psychic was put in a room with a celebrity behind a screen. The psychics then stood in front of the screen and tossed out vague things that could be related to that person, such as "likes music" or "writing a book" or "has eyes". You know, very specific details like that. Then the celebrity came out and did a series of verbal backflips to justify the things the psychics said about them. Is it surprising that the celebrity was Lisa Williams, start of her own equally-stupid Lifetime show? Much like the last challenge, the psychics acted like complete fucking babies when they screwed up. Karyn complained that she was "underscored" and that Lisa was not trying hard enough to connect the vague string of factoids to her life. Jackie hated the challenge, and got pissed when the host called her out on her whining. She retaliated by doing a psychic reading for the host instead, where she claimed that the spirits told her to tell him that he is a depressed failure and that he needed to watch his cholesterol. I kind of loved Jackie at that moment.
3: Clue This was pretty much the most tasteless thing I have ever seen in my life, and that's counting that Natalee Holloway movie. In this challenge, the psychics were taken to the scene of an unsolved murder. It was the home of a family who had lost a son to a drive-by shooting in the front yard a couple of years back. The family sat inside of the house and listened to the psychics wander around and make vague guesses as to how the tragic death had taken place. This was really uncomfortable because the family was clearly still in mourning, the mother choking up and even weeping a few times as the jackasses stumbled around in their front yard and said things like "Uh, maybe someone got shot?" and "My psychic powers tell me that they must really miss their brutally murdered family member." Everyone failed pretty hard except Zenobia, who made enough lucky guesses that the family invited her in for a private reading. Miss Z. held the mother's hand and reassured her that her son missed her and there would be a break in the case "very soon". It is difficult to offend me, as you can tell if you have read anything I have ever written, but this segment actually angered me. It was so exploitative and nasty to watch that family cry. Fuck you, Lifetime, for tricking these poor hurt people into believing this mentalist bullshit instead of dealing with their grief in a healthy way.
The one super-great thing in the show was that ever commercial break, they had a mini-challenge for the audience to flex their psychic muscles with. If you make it past the daunting "which telephone will ring" challenge, you can take on the "which state is this person from" challenge. If you get the "guess which card is the Jack of Hearts" challenge on top of that, you'd better call the Pentagon right away so we can start using your mindblowing abilities to thwart terrorist plots and secure global freedom! Imagine how shocked detained terrorist suspects will be when you guess that they "enjoy eating" and "sleep sometimes"! Those launch codes will be ours in no time!
Who won? Who lost? Who gives a shit, this is all garbage and you know it. If you're deeply invested, or you watch to get some laughs at a bunch of grown-ass adults playing a very spooky game of pretend, I suggest you watch it on MyLifetime.com. Just leave me out of it.