Thursday’s “Ghosts” finale featured a romantic revelation nearly 250 years in the making.
As haunted estate inheritors Samantha (Rose McIver) and husband Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) prepared their spirit-filled pile for their bed and breakfast guests in CBS’ hit freshman comedy, ancient emotions were unearthed.
Fan-favorite militiaman ghost Captain Isaac Higgintoot (Brandon Scott Jones) finally expressed his feelings for his one-time Revolutionary War rival Lt. Col. Nigel Chessum (John Hartman).
It was a restrained emotional skirmish in which only mutual “I like you’s” were exchanged. But the tender words in front of the paranormal comedy’s misfit spirits carried power and ended a season of missed opportunities for affection.
“(Isaac) has been in the closet for 250 years,” says Jones, 37, who identifies as queer. “So this coming out experience was so explosive to him. What’s really interesting is this kind of story is usually reserved for younger people – the idea of identity and figuring out who you are. But all this is happening to someone 300 years old.”
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The paranormal problems for Isaac and the eccentric collection of house-haunting souls have proved popular viewing, making “Ghosts,” adapted from a British series, TV’s top-rated new comedy, averaging 8.3 million viewers within a week of each new episode.
CBS signed on for a second season in January to follow Isaac and fellow specters – including arrow-through-the-neck scoutmaster Pete (Richie Moriarty), viking Thorfinn (Devan Chandler Long), Native American Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) and Victorian-era Hetty Woodstone (Rebecca Wisocky), the original homeowner.
“This show resonates in a very divisive time in American history,” says executive producer Joe Port. “It shows this group of disparate people, who didn’t know each other in real life, forced together in this afterlife. In our show, there’s more that unites us than divides us.”
This was made clear in the season-long comedic love story between American soldier Isaac and British Nigel, who form a friendship despite their warring sides and disparate worldviews – not to mention the mid-season revelation that Isaac had accidentally fatally shot Nigel while admiring him through his newly invented rifle scope. (Isaac later died of dysentery).
With each episode, Isaac has come to the realization “that he is definitely gay and the cracks are beginning to show, He can’t keep this facade going,” says Jones. Isaac slipped and said “I love you” to Nigel before comically pretending he said something different in episode 8. In episode 15, Isaac came out to Hetty to explain why he wouldn’t canoodle with her.
Jones says there was a lot of collaboration with Port and executive producer Joe Wiseman over the finale moment with Nigel, discussing whether to make a grander statement than “I like you.”
“There was going to be a relationship proclamation like ‘I love you’ or ‘This is my boyfriend.’ But the more we talked about it, the more we felt that he’s so reserved, go for an authentic payoff,” says Jones. “An actual kiss would almost blow Isaac’s mind. We could spend an entire season around him kissing a man.”
Jones believes the final scene is “really funny and subversive” while making an important statement on a popular network family comedy.
“I’m aware that we do a 21-minute episode with commercials. So there’s only so much story we can actually tell,” he says. “But a character grappling with this from a different perspective is so, so important.”
It’s even more valuable amid the “socio-political climate around the LGBT community,” with legislation “preventing people from being able to express who they are fully,” says Jones.
Isaac and Nigel’s finale moment was cut short by the ring of a doorbell by another breakthrough: Sam and Jay welcomed their first bed and breakfast guests after many setbacks.
Next season promises a new chapter for the visiting patrons and the budding relationship.
“We definitely want to see what Isaac and Nigel are like in a relationship and see where that takes us,” says producer Wiseman, “We’re working on that now.”
Jones is confident that the two partners will at least make for good comedy.
“The fact that I killed him – he’ll always be able to hang that over Isaac’s head,” says Jones. “But to watch two antiquated people with such opposing politics and worldviews is going to be very funny.”