The Whispers, a show about children in Washington, D.C. who have an imaginary friend who encourages them do heinous acts, may not return to TV for a second season. The Whispers‘ delayed premiere was held on June 1, instead of mid-May, yet had excellent ratings of 5.7 million viewers.
These numbers mark the highest summer ratings for a scripted series, and resulted in even better DVR ratings. While The Whispers is still up and coming and ratings are not an issue, the ongoing success of this show is all but certain. According to ABC, the network has two weeks to make a decision about renewing the series. This time frame is very short for such a decision in this industry. The show will have run for only five weeks by June 30, the date the series is contracted to end, but ABC hopes they can extend actors into July 15. This will give them more time to make a decision regarding the future of the show.
The show received a rating of 7.7, according 2,412 votes on IMDB. This makes it difficult to believe that The Whispers may not return for a second season. Although there have been other creative works about children and the presence of ghosts, such as the famous Sixth Sense, Casper and The Messenger, the very idea of the paranormal is a subject that interests a wide audience. The Lifetime Movie Network has an open casting call for stories of possessed children for their show, Ghost Inside My Child, which is currently in its third season.
It is not uncommon for children to have imaginary friends. According to a study at the University of Oregon, 37 percent of children have them. The Parenting and Child Health Network believes that invisible friends help the child grow through certain stress they may be experiencing, or that the child may simply be creative and imaginative. It is also common that children will grow out of the phase of imaginary friends to play with and talk with, once they reach an age where they socialize with other children regularly and can form real friendships. A study led by Dr. Evan Kidd, a psychologist at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, found that children with made-up friends are generally more developed than their counterparts who do not have them. Kidd found that children with imaginary friends have both better communication skills, as well as higher emotional response. Most children with imaginary friends are either the oldest child or only children.
Parents can sometimes believe that children are speaking to a friend, God, sometimes the devil or evil spirits and ghosts, although none of the aforementioned have been proven. Pediatric sites and parenting blogs recommend playing along with the imaginary friend of a child, without fostering it too much and without allowing the imaginary friend to be the only friend to the child. Additionally, it is important to continue to discipline the child when necessary without allowing for the imaginary friend to take the blame for any misconduct.
While the simple truth is very separate from fiction, it is easier to believe that imaginary friends are entities known to children because they have been described as having personalities and characteristics. Influencing ghosts and possession by ghosts make for much better television, which makes it surprising that The Whispers may not return for a second season.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
Deadline: Early ‘Whispers’ Renewal? Series Faces Pickup Decision as Cast Options Expire
Carter Matt: ABC May Have to Renew or Cancel ‘The Whispers’ Within Next Seven Days
Parenting and Child Health Network: Imaginary friends
Boystown Pediatrics: Imaginary Friends: It’s Okay to Believe
Image Courtesy of Zach Stern’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License