Ghost Hunting, Entertainment and Friendship: A Fresh Perspective in the Paranormal World
Ready to tackle America’s most haunted locations with a positive, humorous, and respectful attitude, brothers by choice, if not by blood, Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass, and Marcus Harvey are the stars of Discovery+’s latest paranormal adventure: Ghost Brothers: Lights Out.
Following the success of their previous paranormal investigation TV shows, Ghost Brothers, Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, and Fright Night, the trio premiered their straight-to-streaming series on April 17th, 2021, with the release of the first three episodes of Ghost Brothers: Lights Out.
Though viewer statistics are not readily available for shows hosted solely on streaming platforms, Dalen, Juwan, and Marcus built up a base of 450,000 average viewers for their original 2016 Ghost Brothers series. With the ease of on-demand viewing that streaming offers, Ghost Brothers: Lights Out is likely gaining new fans each day. Could you be one of them?
Ghost Brothers: Lights Out Air Date
Although their previous TV shows were hosted on TLC Destination America and the Travel Channel, Ghost Brothers: Lights Out is exclusive to the Discovery+ streaming service. The first three episodes were added to the service simultaneously on Saturday, April 17th, 2021.
The first episode, Roff Family Rituals, in which the brothers investigate the spirit of a possessed girl in Watseka, Illinois, remains one of the series’ highest-rated episodes. Though ratings dip slightly for the other two episodes released on the same day, they remain some of the most popular of the entire series.
Creation and Production
Ghost Brothers: Lights Out is produced by LA-based studio Painless Productions, a long-time collaborator for Travel Channel and Discovery+ shows, including the previous paranormal project The Dead Files.
As well as sharing a production studio, The Dead Files and Ghost Brothers: Lights Out also share executive producers Jim Casey and Ross Kaiman, who previously worked with the brothers on Fright Club. Another Fright Club alum, the third executive producer, Rob Saffi, has worked on Paranormal Lockdown as a showrunner and My Horror Story and The Holzer Files as an executive producer.
Other production staff include:
- Shawn Sheridan – Story Producer
- Robb Jacobson – Story Producer
- Patrick Luce – Story Producer
- Christopher Michael Cagle – Senior Producer
- Jai Harris – Supervising Producer
- Olivia Curtis – Producer
- Mike Therrien – Producer
- Hannah Altman – Producer
Cinematography is headed by Sam Weinstein, also of Paranormal Lockdown fame, with still photography by Jennifer Butkiewicz. With such a large production team, it’s no surprise that Ghost Brothers: Lights Out also benefits from a large post-production department, including an editorial department, sound department, and separate series music department.
Ghost Brothers: Lights Out Cast Members
As the first all-black paranormal investigation team, the Ghost Brothers are pioneers of “candid and unorthodox” attitudes that were perhaps previously unseen in the genre. Let’s take a closer look at the brothers and their previous experiences with the supernatural:
Having met Juwan during his time at Atlanta University’s Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, the pair currently own the fashion label Loren Spratt together. “The Bad Boy of Paranormal,” Dalen is known as the risk taker of the group, happy to venture into high-activity areas that the others will not. Dalen is responsible for the brothers’ paranormal investigations, anecdotally kicking down Juwan’s door at 2 am on one fateful day in 2011, shouting, “WE SHOULD HUNT GHOSTS!”
As well as his day job designing for the Loren Spratt label with Dalen, Juwan, the “Paranormal Poppy,” lures spirits in with his undeniable charm. As an Eagle Scout, Juwan finds innovative ways to connect with spirits by offering a respectful attitude rarely expressed by other investigators. He helped Dalen with their joint YouTube channel, where the videos that would form the basis for their TV shows were uploaded.
A barber by day and paranormal investigator by night, Marcus is the biggest believer of the three. However, far from being timid and terrified, he has earned the title “Soul Brother” because he brings a light-hearted and comedic tone to episodes. He met Dalen and Juwan when cutting their hair at the Atlanta University Consortium and was brought in just before they filmed the Ghost Brothers pilot in 2014. He also helps the boys stay true to their routes, saying a prayer before they enter their chosen location.
Each with a distinct attitude to the world beyond our own, the brothers strike a balance in their personalities and investigative methods, resulting in some exciting evidence of the paranormal.
Primary Focus of the Show
In their introduction to every episode, the Ghost Brothers claim they’re ready to “separate the horror from the hype” by cutting “through the legends and the lies.” Straying from their previous format used for the original Ghost Brothers and Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests spin-off, Lights Out sees Dalen sending his bros into the location under investigation entirely alone, with no knowledge of the spirits they may encounter.
Dalen guides Juwan and Marcus through the property in his so-called mission control center. The brothers believe this method can provide the soundest proof of the paranormal as if Juwan and Marcus’s findings line up with Dalen’s knowledge of the location, and it’s clear that the stories have substance and something genuinely supernatural is afoot.
Even though Juwan and Marcus enter blind, Dalen provides the audience with the entire contextual history of the location beforehand. The brothers use a variety of tools to conduct their investigation, such as:
- Night-Vision Cameras
- Thermal Cameras
- Ouija Boards
- REM Pods
- Ovilus V
- Spirit Boxes
- Shadow Detection Technology
They waste no time entering the location, communicating with Dalen via walkie-talkie as he guides them through the property using floor plans. To break up the episodes, Dalen speaks to the home or property owner and others who’ve had spooky experiences there.
Then, after their blind investigations are completed, the threesome enters together to run further experiments and draw out any present spirits, poltergeists, or demons. Finally, the brothers take their findings to the property owners and close the book on the case.
Ghost Brothers: Lights Out Impact on the Paranormal Community
Being the only crew of African-American ghost hunters, Ghost Brothers broke boundaries with its original release in 2016. The continuing success of the trio with Ghost Brothers: Lights Out proves there’s a definite market among paranormal TV show fans for never-before-seen attitudes and camaraderie between hosts. However, as a straight-to-streaming show, new and potential viewers would be forgiven for thinking that the series may have taken a hit in terms of production value.
On the contrary, Confreaks and Geeks called the show’s format with Juwan and Marcus as the blind investigators an “awesome twist” on the original series that pairs the host’s genuine friendship with an attempt to prove the paranormal once and for all.
Fans echoed this statement, with one IMDb user commenting, “It’s so different and fresh. They seem to be genuine and not scripted/acting. Nothing like Ghost Adventures. They bring some comedic relief.” However, the brothers still keep the audience hooked through genuinely terrifying moments well known to paranormal TV shows.
This balance means, in general, the paranormal community has received the show well. The brothers’ investigations of well-known haunted locations offer a unique tone and entertaining viewing, if ultimately nothing new in terms of findings and stylistic convention. Fans of other paranormal TV shows will appreciate the originality of the new format, as well as tried and tested elements such as historical overviews, haunting music, and a few jump-scares here and there.
Ghost Brothers: Lights Out Seasons and Episodes
There are two seasons of Ghost Brothers: Lights Out available to stream on MAX (previously Discovery+), each with eight episodes of around 45 minutes. With the brothers’ original series on the same platform, fans are spoilt for choice regarding on-demand Ghost Brothers content.
The Most Popular and Well-Rated Episodes
As previously explained, since the series went straight to streaming, exact viewer numbers for Ghost Brothers: Lights Out is hard to come by. Based on IMDb user ratings, the most popular episodes are the first four of the first season:
- Season 1, Episode 1: Roff Family Rituals
- Season 1, Episode 2: Dead and Forgotten
- Season 1, Episode 3: Death Sentence
- Season 1, Episode 4: Cross My Heart
However, IMDb’s rating system and user behavior skewed this data. The best advice is to start at the first episode of the first season, get a feel for the series, and then try episodes based on which hauntings and locations interest you.
Famous Guest Appearances
The Ghost Brothers bring on at least one paranormal expert per episode to share their experiences with the location. Two of the most popular guest appearances are:
The guest for season 1, episode 2, Chip Coffey, is well-known as a self-made psychic in the paranormal TV sphere. Aside from his show Kindred Spirits, he has previously appeared in Paranormal State and as a guest investigator in Portals to Hell. He helps the brothers investigate Eloise Asylum in Michigan, guiding the second part of their exploration based on his psychic instincts.
Appearing in the second episode of the second season, Dan Smith grew up in a haunted property and had been investigating the paranormal for almost thirty years. As well as releasing two in-depth investigations in book form, he has also appeared in Portals to Hell, Ghost Hunters, and Most Terrifying Places in America. He assists the brothers with their investigation of Bobby Mackey’s Music World.
Controversies and Criticisms
Despite their supposed dedication to finding genuine evidence of the paranormal by checking whether independent experiences align with the legends, Ghost Brothers: Lights Out has been hit with the age-old accusation of paranormal TV show fakery.
One review, which praised the crew’s chemistry, also touched on this possible staging, stating, “Their reaction was so downplayed considering they just caught the best paranormal evidence in history. There’s no way that was legitimate so now all other evidence cannot be taken at face value.” Viewers have commented that this is “always disappointing for people who take this stuff seriously.”
Additionally, the Ghost Brothers have been accused of using infamously unreliable tech such as REM pods, which can reportedly be set off by something as natural as spiderwebs or wind. This is made worse as they rarely act to disprove their findings during or after investigations.
However, with most, if not all, paranormal TV shows using the magic of editing and post-production techniques, accusations of fakery are nothing new. Most audience members know that not everything they see is completely genuine and therefore don’t seem to be turned off by this criticism, especially when the hosts make up for it.
This isn’t the Ghost Brothers’ first rodeo, so enhancements were made long before Lights Out aired. Ghostly Activities stated that, while the original “Ghost Brothers first season was pretty awful…Things are much different now [with Lights Out].” Throughout their time as ghost hunters, the trio has improved their investigative techniques and camaraderie to heighten both areas of the audience experience.
After the final episode of season 2 aired on October 21st, 2022, Ghost Brothers: Lights Out fans have been left in the dark for 2023. No word has been given about whether the show will be renewed for a third season. However, fans should not despair as the trio is still active, regularly partaking in paranormal podcast episodes.
When it comes to the paranormal TV genre, hosts play an important role as the bridge between haunted locations and an engaged audience. Often, hosts’ personalities and public personas become larger than the series in which they got their start. The Ghost Brothers seem to do the opposite, with the leading trio remaining humble and relatable in their investigations after breaking out in 2016, especially with the use of talking heads segments that increase this audience-host connection.
Despite the brothers’ experiences investigating the supernatural and their god-fearing relationship with the afterlife, they don’t claim to be experts or behave like they know more than the audience. Instead, the series acts solely as an investigation and presentation of their findings, with some much-needed comic relief along the way. This is not the only way they break with tradition, however.
For paranormal fans of color who have long gone without their due representation in the genre, Dalen, Juwan, and Marcus soar above stereotypes to provide a paranormal TV show that is unique by its very existence.
The Ghost Brothers take their investigations seriously, with their friendship and entertaining interactions a happy byproduct of their experiences. While they stick to some conventions, namely discussing with property owners and previous paranormal investigators, using standard ghost-hunting technology, and perhaps adding some degree of fakery, they also use a unique format, break the investigation up into two or even three parts, and pace the 40-minute episodes excellently.
Can you jump straight into Lights Out without watching the previous seasons of Ghost Brothers and Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests? Yes, as the only thing you’ll miss out on is some context for their past experiences and investigative methods. However, these are revamped for Lights Out as it is, and the original Ghost Brothers series is available on MAX too.
If you’re looking for a slightly more personable hosting group than other paranormal TV shows that still do their best to treat potential hauntings with sincerity and diligence, Ghost Brothers: Lights Out may be for you. Though the show does not break from the genre’s stylistic traditions, they offer a fresh perspective on little-known locations. Perhaps try one episode and see what you think.