Commentary: ‘Ghosts’ Illustrates That People Are Fundamentally Good

by Frank Martin

Stories that focus on the afterlife have a certain amount of groundwork to lay. Nobody really knows what happens when somebody dies — especially if they are working under the presumption of ghosts, spirits, and a heavenly beyond. A lot of times, this structure is at the mercy of the story’s genre and tone. If it’s a horror story, then the assumption is that the afterlife is a torturous one or, at the very least, ghosts are malicious. But if a story is a comedy, it has a certain leeway to play with. And in terms of the CBS sitcom Ghosts, the choice is to illustrate that, when faced with an eternal afterlife, people are genuinely good at heart.

The premise of Ghosts is fairly simple. A woman inherits an old house haunted by ghosts from multiple eras. After sustaining a head injury, she miraculously can see them. She then decides to turn the house into a bed and breakfast while navigating the various ghosts’ personalities and intricate relationships. They essentially become friends, each helping the other navigate life and the afterlife.

As a sitcom, the show is light and touching. This mainly stems from the ghosts’ friendly nature despite the fact that they all come from different generations and that some have been dead for hundreds of years. It’s certainly possible that an eternal afterlife without the prospect of entering paradise can turn someone cruel, especially since they are spirits capable of haunting the living. But the ghosts seen here aren’t like that. They remain good people despite their cruel situation and the temptation to maliciously hurt others. In the realm of horror, ghosts are vengeful and capable of doing real harm. So it’s nice to see a story that shows how people can hold onto being good despite being in a terrible supernatural situation.

Ghosts airs on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

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