As COVID-19 continues to keep most of the world shut down, there hasn’t been a lot of movement in the world of fake history and imaginary aliens. However, the Raelians offered a little bit of humor this weekend when they tried to spin a brush-off from the United Nations as a triumph.
Due to an increase in workload thanks to COVID-19, needing to watch my son much of the day while we are confined to quarters, and a general slowdown in fringe history claims due to the virus drowning out most other discussion, I did not have time write a blog post today. I hope to return tomorrow to review Ancient Aliens, if only in abbreviated form.
With nearly a third of Americans sheltering in their homes under government order and many of the other two-thirds staying in out of prudence and caution, television viewing numbers are growing. Ancient Aliens saw some interesting ratings changes this past weekend. Its total number of viewers did not rise significantly—coming in at 1.043 million—but the number of younger viewers watching nearly doubled. A chunk of the show’s older viewers tuned out (they seemingly flocked to cable news coverage of the corona virus), but younger viewers switched to Ancient Aliens to make up the difference. Oddly, The UnXplained with William Shatner, which previously had more total viewers and more viewers 18-49 than Ancient Aliens, saw its ratings fall to just 883,000 viewers as younger fans apparently sated themselves on Ancient Aliens and turned the channel or went to bed.
Scott Wolter did another interview, this time with biophysicist and pyramid conspiracy theorist John DeSalvo on the Science and Paranormal Hour radio show. DeSalvo appeared on an episode of America Unearthed and claims to have lost half his listeners as a result. That’s neither here nor there, nor is the fact that I can’t stand his voice. He sounds like a midcentury children’s show clown, and for me it was like listening to fingernails on chalkboard. His habit of shouting all of his questions made it still worse, his effusive praise of Wolter notwithstanding. (Even Wolter noted that DeSalvo was blowing smoke up his ass.)
After two weeks of near record-low timeslot ratings for Rob Riggle: Global Investigator, the Discovery Channel pulled the show from its desirable Sunday timeslot and benched it until next month. The show will return on Thursday nights in April to burn off the remainder of its season. The misbegotten series wasn’t funny enough for comedy fans, and it offered nothing new to fans of fake history, putting it in the uncomfortable position of alienating two audiences at the same time.
This week, my 70-something aunt said that she and my uncle weren’t concerned about coronavirus or the precautions in place to prevent its spread because she believes it is a Democratic Party hoax to take down Donald Trump after impeachment failed. She thinks the whole world is conspiring to fake the disease to hurt Trump. My father told me that a friend of his said his ex-wife has the same belief. As my aunt and uncle aged, they moved steadily to the right, going from blue collar Democrats who proudly framed photos of themselves with Clintons in the 1990s to staunch Republicans after 9/11 and becoming die-hard Trump supporters in 2016 thanks to a combination of nationalism, xenophobia, and cultural anxieties. So that’s where we are as a country. Regular Fox News consumers have developed bizarre ideas about what the network had called the “Virus Impeachment Scam” until late last week, and now there’s no good way to undo it.
As coronavirus continues to shut down much of global life, there isn’t a lot of news from the world of fake history, space aliens, and other imaginary things. The real virus commands much more attention than fictitious threats. So, today I am going to devote some of my time to making progress on revising the chapters for my upcoming book on pyramid legends. I’m not sure what will happen when the deadline hits since the publisher currently has its offices closed and the staff are working remotely, though not consistently. In the meantime, here are the latest ratings figures for Rob Riggle: Global Investigator and Ancient Aliens in a week when people are stuck inside and watching more TV.
As you might imagine, the global standstill created by the coronavirus pandemic has also slowed down the purveyors of pseudohistory, who have fewer conferences to share their new claims and whose TV series are beginning to see production delays. So, today I thought I’d take the time spent socially distancing from everyone to discuss my new favorite category of TV series to watch on Netflix, Spanish dramas—the ones from Spain, not just in Spanish. I burned my way through their Brazilian shows, which were generally quite good, and most of the French ones, too. I didn’t really get into the formless Dutch blob of a supposed thriller Ares, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the exceptional quality of Spanish dramas. Once you adjust to the Spanish style of somewhat mannered and overdramatic acting, it becomes quite interesting to see how Spanish TV producers remix and play around with templates and forms pioneered on American TV and add an extra layer or two. They also seem to move much faster, which is, like British series, a function of generally shorter seasons.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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