Surviving Death – Netflix Season 1 Review

Season 1

Episode Guide

Near-Death Experiences
Mediums Part 1
Mediums Part 2
Signs from the Dead
Seeing Dead People


There’s a lot we don’t know about death. We don’t know what happens to the body after this plane of consciousness. Through the ages, there’s been thousands of different ideas and theories, ranging from the Western perception of Heaven and Hell to the Egyptian theory of your heart being weighed on Anubis’ scale against feathers. And then there’s the ideas of reincarnation, living in a computer simulation or just nothing; an endless void of blackness. Ultimately, we don’t know what happens.

The fact that Netflix’s latest docu-series Surviving Death is listed under the reality-TV category should tell you all you need to know about this one. While there are enjoyable elements of this, and just enough science to keep you watching, it’s wise to take this one with a pinch of salt. As one of the scientists tells us in the first episode “We don’t have enough evidence to say what happens” and this statement ultimately sums up the entirety of this series.

While the opening episode about NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) does quite a good job balancing things out, from here it’s all downhill as the subject of mediums, seeing dead people and past life experiences are explored. Each of these episodes take a good 10-15 minutes before even getting to the science and even then, it’s simply not enough to back up what’s being told in any great detail.

In terms of structure though, Surviving Death does do a pretty good job balancing out a number of different eye-witness accounts and ideas with the history of said chosen topic but a lot of this material isn’t particularly thought provoking or deep.

While I don’t doubt the eye-witness accounts for any of these people, the lack of critical questions or thought provoking analysis for anything that’s being said, or why so many reports are different, is a bit of a disappointment.

For the record, I do believe in life after death and in reincarnation too. Personally, I believe that when we die our past life is examined by a panel of faceless spirits or “guardian angels” that determine whether we return to this plane of existence and live again or move on to something else after completing our life’s goal. While this all sounds fantastical and far-fetched, if I said this in front of a camera you’d want scientists to question and pick apart my ideas, right?

Unfortunately, Surviving Death too often introduces us to scientists or researchers who simply sit and talk to men or women and take their word as gospel. There’s no neuro-science, no brain scans, pressing questions or body language detection.

For example, in episode 6 a boy apparently has knowledge of his past life in Hollywood. His Mother reads a letter about his experiences as a child, loving the Hollywood sign and creating his own mini-movies while playing with toys.

In a one on one interview with the scientist, this boy is asked whether he still has memories of his past life. He looks away, rolls his lips inward and casts his gaze away from the camera before uttering “Not very often.” These point toward not being truthful but it’s never once called out. And that sadly goes for a lot of what happens in this series – especially the two episodes dedicated to mediums.

Ultimately though, if you enjoy shows like Most Haunted and Ancient Aliens you’ll absolutely be in your element here. There’s enough eye-witness accounts and life stories to fill out the run-time and a minimal amount of science squeezed in to try and explain this phenomena. Unfortunately Surviving Death is nowhere near critical enough and the show is unlikely to change your opinion on death one way or another, making for a rather shallow and disappointing experience.

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  • 3.5/10
    Verdict - 3.5/10

3 thoughts on “Surviving Death – Netflix Season 1 Review”

  1. A school for mediums in the Netherlands…the usual lineup of spirit guides and seance doowhackery..spiritual music..various voices employed..a nine year old spirit called Tommy ffs..who, incidentally, says he’s very important (in his Mickey Mouse squeak) and ‘responsible for the ectoplasm’. Total bull. And still they fall for it. This series is utter bunk.

  2. Hey Paul, thanks for commenting!

    You’re right, the reincarnation episode does introduce some intriguing material but again it’s only relating to 2 eye-witness accounts. In fact, 30 minutes is dedicated exclusively to Ryan’s story. Within that, the scientist mentions he made “over 200 statements” regarding his past life and then quickly acknowledges that 50 of them were correct. If you pause the episode during the camera panning down the sheets of paper, some of these statements are ridiculously broad and generalized. “He had a maid” “He had a gun” and “He was a smoker” were three that instantly stuck out to me. It’s also a shame they didn’t dive into South East Asia and interview people there – especially after making a point of mentioning how reincarnation cases are prevalent on that side of the world.

    I’m not discrediting either of these eye-witness accounts of course, I guess I was just disappointed with it as I hoping they’d dive into the neural science a bit more. Do these kids have different brain waves when thinking about a past life? What about hypnosis? Could they use that to try and distinguish if the brain changes while tapping into that past life? etc. So I’m not scientist and I absolutely don’t have the answers – but sadly this show doesn’t have any either!

    Thank you again for taking the time to read the review, it’s very much appreciated!

    -Greg W

  3. The first 5 episodes are wack but I don’t know how you could watch the ‘Reincarnation’ episode and disregard that material. The investigation was led and verified by a clinical psychiatrist with great mathematical probability. I don’t believe in mediums, ghosts or any of that other garbage but the scientific data on reincarnation was hard to ignore in that episode.

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