‘Psychic Tia,’ speaking of the dead
In this &E reality series, the central character talks a lot
August 2, 2013
Stars on reality TV tend to fall into two categories: Some have spent most of their lives acting as if they were being followed by a camera crew, so they’re already overdramatic and under-inhibited. Others are simply willing to put on an act for TV.
The title character of A&E’s “Psychic Tia” seems to fall in the first category, which is probably the category that reality-TV producers prefer. The owner of a New Jersey store called the Craft, where she does psychic readings and communicates with clients’ deceased family members, she loves being the center of attention and talking about herself.
So in between scenes of Tia performing moderately entertaining readings in which she helps people work out their issues, she boasts endlessly about her powers and goes on about her personal life. Since she isn’t as charismatic or interesting as either she or the producers seem to think, the show probably doesn’t have much of a future.
In the first episode, airing this Saturday, Aug. 3, at 10 p.m., Tia explains that ever since she was a little girl growing up in New Jersey, she’s been able to “peer deeply into your soul.” After going through the police academy, working as a crime-scene investigator and suffering a “life-threatening infection” — the odd way she phrases this personal history implies that it’s, as they say, complicated — she decided to open a store.
Usually with psychics on TV, we can see them making vague guesses — e.g., “I see an older woman” — which prompt the clients to fill in the details, which lead to a lachrymose conversation in which the psychic assures the clients that their loved one still loves them and is watching over them.
In her sessions with the dead, Tia’s guesses are nearly all “balls on,” as she and her friends say. Of course, Tia and her producers have the benefit of editing.
In the premiere, a pretty blonde named Amanda wants to talk to her deceased father. No skeptic, Amanda weeps as soon as Tia tells her that her father is standing behind her. Without fishing for details, Tia says right away that the father says there’s an issue with a ring and that Amanda shouldn’t get back together with a guy with whom she has broken up twice.
Tia also says correctly that there’s a Vinny somewhere in the picture. Since this is New Jersey, that’s a pretty safe bet.
Tia sends Amanda away with a “prescription,” a white cleansing candle that will “get rid of all the hurt.” No one mentions prices, but since Amanda is a pretty blonde, it’s possible this is a made-for-TV freebie.
The second such session in the premiere will probably make even cynical viewers choke up a bit. A family visits just before the wedding of one of the daughters. Tia says that the spirit of the bride’s sister, who died in a car crash with her baby, has come to tell the family members to stop worrying or feeling guilty and that she’ll be at the wedding. The family takes so much comfort in this that one almost doesn’t care if it’s totally fraudulent.
As usually happens in the premiere episodes of reality shows set in workplaces, the main character tells us that she has just hired an new assistant, who is usually either an attractive young woman or a flamboyantly effeminate young man. “Psychic Tia” goes with the former, a pretty, blond former pageant girl named Hailey. Tia teaches her how to burn sage, and they have a long conversation about why Tia has a shelf of penis-shaped candles.
Tia comes across as a straight-talking Jersey girl, except for one detail: She speaks with that odd accent that many American women adopt when they don’t want to sound like they’re from where they’re from. She pronounces the name of her store as “the Crahft” and pronounces the name of her client “Hector” as “Huctor.”
In the personal-life parts of the episode, Tia’s son and his fiancée come with some news. Sure enough, Tia had a premonition of what they were going to say.
The second episode, which will air this Saturday at 10:30, handles less emotionally fraught topics. A longtime client named Vita, who one hopes is putting on a sassy-Italian-American-lady act for the cameras, says that she’s tired of the guys she’s been seeing because “at the end of dinner they think they’re entitled to dip their cannoli in my espresso.” In case anyone missed it, we get two repetitions of this metaphor.
Tia advises Vita to lay off guys for a while and concentrate on passing the bar exam. “What you’re saying,” Vita says, “is invest in double-A batteries.”
Later Tia tells a restaurateur named Hector to dump the woman he’s been seeing because she’s a “stage-5 clinger.”
“Girls are evil when it comes to penis,” Tia says. “I know the way bitches think.”
Tia seems to be a natural, but we’ve all seen too many self-satisfied potty mouths on TV for her to make much of an impression. Moreover, there are plenty of other shows that try to jerk tears with paranormal uplift. Tia is probably having a prumonition of gutting cahnceled.