Commentary

'Ghosts': Beyond The Laughter Is A Sitcom That Cares

A good time was had by all when five cast members of “Ghosts” met a sellout crowd of their fans at the Library of Congress in Washington earlier this month.

For all involved, the event was a learning experience because at the heart of this silly, funny sitcom is nothing less than American history.

Now in its third season and renewed for a fourth on CBS, “Ghosts” is about a young couple who inherit an old mansion in upstate New York.

But lo and behold, the mansion is inhabited principally by eight restless spirits -- each representing distinct eras in American history.

Five of them came to the Library of Congress, but not in costume or character. They were (l-r in the above photo provided by CBS): Asher Grodman (Trevor, stockbroker from the year 2000), Danielle Pinnock (Alberta, 1920s speakeasy performer), Roman Zaragoza (Sass, 17th century Lenape), Richie Moriarty (Pete, 1980s girl scout troupe leader) and Rebecca Wisocky (Hetty, Gilded Age matron).

In the photo, they are seen looking over some of the artifacts from the Library’s collections that were curated and displayed to reflect the times in which their characters lived.

“The Library staff had selected some unique items from its collection relating to each character, which they then presented to the cast and put out for public display before the screening,” said an observer who was there. “The cast was incredibly moved by what they saw.”

The evening event included a screening and a panel discussion with the cast moderated by Roswell Encina, chief communications officer of the Library of Congress.

The event was free to the general public, although reservations were required in advance. The event drew a capacity crowd.

“Ghosts” has emerged as a viewership magnet for CBS, where it airs Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, and on other platforms of Paramount Global.

The company is particularly pleased with the show’s performance on the streaming platform Paramount+. 

“The season 3 premiere [in February] delivered nearly 13 million viewers with L+35 multiplatform viewing, and streaming in S3 is seeing massive growth, up +64% over S2,” says CBS.

While its characters from the spirit world spring from different eras of U.S. history, “Ghosts” is first and foremost a comedy, not a weekly history class.

Still, fans on social media seem to appreciate the way the show’s characters from times and places far removed from each other interact.

In one instance, Hetty the Gilded Age matron found the battle for women’s suffrage distasteful and uncouth.

But from the vantage point of the Roaring ’20s, Alberta the speakeasy singer schooled her on the importance of women having a voice in the life of their country. 

The 19th Amendment giving women the same voting rights as men became law in 1920.

In another example, Isaac, a soldier who died in the Revolutionary War, came to terms with his homosexuality with support from his ghost friends.

By all accounts -- including considerable press coverage -- the Library of Congress’ evening with “Ghosts” was a resounding success.

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