Ghost BFF is a new webseries about mental illness and the paranormal hosted on WhoHaHa. The show chronicles the journey of 20-something Amy, who is haunted by the ghost of her deceased friend, Tara. After committing suicide a couple of years prior, Tara returns from the dead to critique Amy’s life choices.
The show offers a spirited reinterpretation of what it means to be a ‘best friend forever.’ It’s a combination of 13 Reasons Why meets Hamlet, or A Beautiful Mind meets The Sixth Sense. The webseries is a ghastly comedy, dealing with the sensitive topics of anxiety and suicide with an unworldly sense of humour.
Vanessa Matsui, creator and one of the stars of Ghost BFF, told The Varsity that the show is loosely inspired by a very good friend who almost died by suicide following a period of depression.
“At around the same time that I was helping to take care of her, an acquaintance of mine died by suicide and another friend was suicidal,” said Matsui. “I felt like there is this epidemic of girls in their twenties who were really suffering, and no one was really talking about it.”
The show uses comedy to discuss taboo subjects, said Matsui. “It’s not so much ‘laughing at depression,’ but maybe more like, finding that laughter can be cathartic.”
A public service announcement about mindfulness ends every episode, to provide information to the viewers.
“Mindfulness is synonymous to self-love and self-care,” said Katie Nolan, one of the show’s co-writers and producers. “[It’s] remembering to stay in the present moment as much as possible, and not judge yourself too harshly.”
Matsui said that the practice of mindfulness is a cost-effective, evidence-based way to help cope with stress. Nonetheless, the show’s crew didn’t want to be “too invasive or pushy” with the mental health education aspect, said Nolan. Rather, the PSAs are meant to serve as helpful tips and information for interested viewers.
“We didn’t want [the] show to come across as an after-school special, and really wanted to create a show that could stand on its own as a binge-worthy series,” said Nolan. “I think we achieved it, and managed to create something extra that will hopefully soothe a lot of people.”
The show itself does have some problems, particularly in its limited characterization of Tara. Tara is both a metaphor for Amy’s anxiety and her own character, one who can be manipulative, selfish, and judgemental. She does occasionally become ‘Tara, the friendly ghost,’ and she and Amy are seen getting along like the BFFs the show claims they are.
“She is the catalyst. I have my friends who are not necessarily good for me but they definitely keep life interesting. And fun,” said Matsui.
The show often tackles social issues, and may not always succeed in their nuanced portrayals. Still, it is applaudable for its willingness to tackle such difficult issues.
Other aspects of the show will leave fingerprints on the window of a viewer’s soul. Scenes like Amy’s final soliloquy show the potential of the show to craft relatable and honest characters, and then connect them to advice that can create a positive impact.
Although Ghost BFF can’t solve your problems for you, you’ll certainly finish it in high spirits.