Hollywood Medium's Other Scam Involves Telling Celebrities to Their Faces That He Doesn't Recognize Them


This is just plain rude.

One of the conceits of E!’s Hollywood Medium is that its titular, self-proclaimed clairvoyant, Tyler Henry, has no idea which celebrities he’s going to meet before he shows up at their doors. This creates a work-around his tendency to share easily Googleable facts with the celebs as he nervously twitters, scribbles on a piece of paper, and supposedly relays messages that are coming from their dead loved ones. He couldn’t have Googled this stuff, you see, because he had no idea whom he would be talking to. So when he tells his guests things they already knew, things anyone with working WiFi could easily discover, this warmed-over content is special because of its supernatural delivery method. The medium’s medium is the message.

Because this is such a supposedly crucial aspect of the show, Henry mentions whether he recognizes his latest “client” or not virtually every time he meets one. The thing is, the “success” of these readings never varies—they are just as jaw-dropping to the celebs that Henry recognizes (like Nancy Grace and Janice Dickinson) as they are to those he doesn’t (like Tom Arnold and Jaleel “Urkel” White). Because there’s no significant variation from the approximately three-fifths of the celebs he doesn’t recognize versus the two-fifths of those he does, the only reason to keep bringing up his recognition is to remind viewers that he’s going in cold and that everything you’re seeing is spontaneous. This, my compass (not a spirit in my ear, but a bullshit meter in my gut) tells me, is a sleight of hand for the sake of making television.

A consequence is that not recognizing people has become Henry’s “thing.” He gets to be brutally honest about whether he knows his “clients”—often to their faces—because, well, that’s his thing. He never recognizes people (except when he does). That’s his thing. Isn’t it cute? I slam people’s feet in car doors. It’s my thing. Tee-hee.

For real though, can you imagine how much easier life would be if you never had to pretend that you recognized someone you don’t? Or if you could just speak freely about something as tethered to people’s sense of self-worth as their basic identity, with no regard to their feelings on the matter whatsoever? How easy and cathartic life would be! This is maybe Tyler Henry’s biggest scam.

A lot of these celebs are B-, C-, or D-list and below. Few people at the top of their game are going on Hollywood Medium. This means that not only does Henry “read” you by assuring you that everything is wonderful with the dead people who were once in your life, he reads you by reminding you that your quest for fame and mass adulation has fallen short, at least, of his purview. What a guy. Enjoy the video.

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