Afterlife Explored in I Survived ... Beyond and Back
- Friday, October 21, 2011
What kind of feedback in general have you received from viewers of I Survived ... Beyond and Back since it’s been on the air?
In general it’s obviously been positive. We’ve decided to revisit the series. It rated very well just on a basic numbers game of television. It’s started off very well in its first six episodes which was what inspired us for the purpose of keeping it going. But I think we walk in a very safe kind of sort of path on this. We’re not taking a position on it. I don’t think should we be taking positions; I think it would be sort of unfair to certain viewers. This is all such powerful content. I think we’re here to have people decide for themselves. So to that point, I think it’s been overwhelmingly positive and [people are] interested in seeing more. Hence, more episodes.
On the flip side, there are some people who just don’t want to think about what happens after we die. They just don’t want to “go there” so to speak. What would you say to someone like that who might assume this show is a downer?
I guess for starters I would argue that those people are probably in the minority. I think almost every major faith or religion has a fundamental element that is what do we have to say about this huge mystery of life. For most people it is in their minds. But I know what you’re saying, that there’s some people that maybe have that gut reaction that it sounds like a downer. If you watch I Survived, I mean that’s a pretty scary show. There’s death-defying moments. [I Survived ... Beyond and Back] has a very different tone. You’re dealing with someone like Noelle who’s talking about her brain was hanging out of her skull. These are some horrifying things, but minutes later she’s saying how beautiful it was. So I think I guess the short answer to your question is that I think people would be surprised how uplifting a show about dying can be, if that makes any sense.
How would you say that working on this show has affected you personally? Has it caused you to think or rethink some ideas or beliefs you have about what happens after we die?
I mean you know that there will be the skeptics. We’ve done on other shows that kind of venture into the paranormal, and you know there’s an inherent sort of divide that many people have between being a skeptic and a believer. And it’s a very easy place to be a skeptic. But at some point—and this is sort of something that we’ve sought out in the casting, and when I say "casting," at some point we have to choose which people we’re going to focus on for our shows. And I think it’s very important that the folks we’re talking to don’t seem like out there, sort of marginalized personalities. They’re regular people. And I think at some point when you hear enough regular people talk about an experience they’re having, you start to see connections. You start to see common themes, and you start to see the things that are just not explainable. So I think on a personal level I think I have a very sort of open point of view that there’s a lot of questions in life that the more you try to answer everything the tougher it is on you. There’s a lot of things you’re never going to get an answer to. But I think this show for me, and for other people who are advocates for the show around here, it encourages you to continue leaving the mysteries open. You don’t really know until you experience for yourself, and I think in this show we’re giving people a window into something that there’s only one way they’ll ever really get to know it.
Has there been one story so far in the history of I Survived ... Beyond and Back that has really touched you personally or is one you’ll never forget?
For very personal, selfish reasons because I’m a scuba diver. In the first six episodes, there’s one of a guy who he made the classic mistake when you’re a scuba diver—you never take the regulator out of your mouth. And he sort of suffered the accident that every time I’ve gone scuba diving they always tell you don’t do this and don’t do that. So it’s sort of interesting to watch it play out in the story. So maybe on a superficial level just because it hits a place that is probably is one of my ultimate fears of having an accident happen.
There’s one that’s coming up this season that I think viewers will like a lot. She’s a true cowgirl, she’s a middle-aged woman [named] Kathy. So she worked in Kansas and was part of a company that they work at sale barns and livestock sales, and she and her coworkers were bringing in a whole herd of cattle. And she was riding her favorite horse, a horse called Rancher. And once she got into this sort of arena there was a bull that was being sold for auction that day that was just in a bad mood. I mean I don’t know enough about bull psychology, but it was in a bad place. And somehow it just sort of had a problem with the horse that she was on, and it just made this really awful grunt and then just charged straight at her. And it toppled the horse, and basically I think the horse itself fell on top of her and it sort of mangled her body. But she’s an amazing character. She looks like she walked out of a western. Her storytelling . . . she could read the phone book to you. And you know the flavor of the story and the location . . . the witnesses were all other cowboy characters from the livestock auction and were just amazing, salt-of-the-earth personalities. And she goes to a very heavenly place while they’re working frantically to save her. She experiences some pretty amazing visuals and life moments, but again there’s just something really powerful about the way she tells her story. I think it might be the third episode . . . the second or the third.
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