A new docuseries released on Netflix, Surviving Death, chronicles what happens in the afterlife. More specifically, it dives into ghost stories, near death experiences, mediums, and even reincarnation. Could these machinations of the afterlife be completely honest, or are they just as fake as our imaginary middle school boyfriends?
The documentarian who created Surviving Death on Netflix, Ricki Stern, is not new to the filmmaking game. She’s been in the thick of it for years, and created the highly watched Surviving Jeffrey Epstein. Despite her credibility, however, many Surviving Death skeptics have painted the show as absurd and the stories told as presumably fake.
Whether ‘Surviving Death’ on Netflix is real or fake is up to the viewer.
When creating Netflix’s Surviving Death, Ricki Stern wanted to take a close look at the stories of life after death. Each episode in this six episode series chronicles a different myth of the afterlife. Knowing the Netflix audience, Ricki knew she couldn’t just throw invisible ghosts onto the screen and call it a day without skeptics calling it totally fake. Instead, she brings in scientists and “psychical researchers” to offer up explanations for these eerie experiences.
However, the series also acknowledges that it’s impossible to have any sort of belief in the afterlife without being open to it. Surviving Death is basically saying that if you’re going to be a skeptic, you’ll never have the proof you need to believe in the afterlife. Netflix’s Surviving Death is based on a book by the same name by Leslie Kean, who also tries to bring a scientific lens to what comes after death. The goal of both the book and the series seem to be just to elicit the possibility that the afterlife may not be completely fake.
Despite the science, many viewers think Netflix’s ‘Surviving Death’ is fake.
There are scientists and researchers who come in to examine the stories told on Surviving Death, like Mary Neal’s near death experience where she claims she was dead for 30 minutes underwater, and in that time, “she felt her spirit peel away from her body and travel up to a brilliantly colorful, flowery ‘heaven’ where time and space shifted.” However, these scientists seem to be skewed toward believing that the afterlife could be a possibility, and offer no concrete, physical, or scientific evidence that it’s more than fake.
I’m on episode 2 of #SurvivingDeath on Netflix and I was REALLY spooked until “Tommy” was introduced. Now I think this whole show (or at least most of it) is fake 😂🤦🏻♀️— SM. (@sarahhhhbelle) January 11, 2021
Some Reddit users were skeptical of Surviving Death from the get go. One poster claims that Mary Neal’s story, while it may have felt like a half hour to her, was probably only five minutes, but there are no facts to debunk Mary’s perspective. Another user conflates Surviving Death to fake UFO conspiracy theories, asking why there is no evidence of a UFO if everyone has a camera? Even a blogger for 106.5 The End radio, who says she is a genuine believer in some aspects of the afterlife, agrees that it’s hard to believe that “physical mediumship” is anything but fake.
'Surviving Death' might not be fake to the subjects, even if it feels fake to Netflix viewers.
One of the main criticisms of Surviving Death is that everyone on the show is stricken by grief. Many times, the people interviewed were not believers in the afterlife, and only after a loved one had died did they open up to the possibility that an afterlife might not be fake. The idea that we see what we want to believe is overwhelmingly apparent in Surviving Death when the grief-stricken subjects are searching for a way to connect to their lost loved ones.
First episode of #SurvivingDeath looked promising. Episode 2 & 3 moved into mediumship. What an absolute crock! Ectoplasm? Oh FFS they've watched Ghostbusters too many times. @netflix surely you could have looked for realism, not this fake garbage. Money wasted on this production— Lydia Rhiannon (@LydiaAmesha) January 9, 2021
Not only that, but if the afterlife were real, a Yahoo journalist asks, “Where are the bitter, angry ghosts who want to vent to those they left behind? More pressing still, where are the spirits who, rather than telling their relatives pat sentiments about love and forgiveness, are eager to report back about what life after death is really like?”
It could be that, while the stories documented on Surviving Death may not be fake to the subjects themselves, they may not be as real to those of us watching, searching for answers more than connection.
You can watch Surviving Death on Netflix now to make your own decisions.