Demi Lovato wants you to believe. Unidentified, the singer’s four-part documentary (“documentary”), has premiered in full on Peacock—and while the series might have all the journalistic rigor of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters or Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found, Lovato’s charisma is hard to resist.
Unidentified feels, in some ways, like a strange Franken-show—a spiritual hybrid of celebrity documentary and paranormal explorations like Finding Bigfoot and BuzzFeed Unsolved. Lovato, who recently came out as nonbinary, explains at the top of their show that while at Joshua Tree on their 28th birthday, they saw a UFO and now believe they might have experienced an alien encounter.
The show’s early episodes introduce Lovato’s sidekicks—their sister Dallas and “skeptical” best friend Matthew, who in reality loves to gush about how convinced he is roughly two minutes after witnessing... anything. We observe the singer as they receive regressive hypnotherapy in an attempt to recover any lost memories of the creatures Lovato will repeatedly, earnestly call “E.T.s.”
As Lovato notes, Hollywood has not always been receptive to their fringier interests. A clip from Late Night with Seth Meyers from 2014 finds the comedian joshing the singer for believing in aliens and also, err... mermaids. And because this is a Peacock show, Meyers eventually shows up to issue a mea culpa in light of the reporting that’s begun to emerge on UFOs.
While Unidentified begins, as its title suggests, with a focus on aliens, it doesn’t take long for Demi and Dallas and Matthew to begin communing with spirits in Vulture City—where Lovato establishes a connection with the spirit of a sex worker in a brothel whom they quickly discern “has trauma.” (And yes, Demi definitely sings “Skyscraper” to the ghosts as an “offering.”)
I fear, at this moment, that I might be giving the impression that I did not enjoy The Demi Lovato Paranormal Show. Reader, let me be clear: I loved every minute of it.
At a time when so many celebrity documentaries (read: brand-building exercises) feel so self-conscious, it’s kind of refreshing to watch Lovato embark on something less self-serious. Their myth-bolstering team can “ooh” and “ahh” at strange sights and sounds with the best of them. That, more than anything, becomes the gift that keeps on giving as they trek through California’s most credulous attractions, guided above all by the conviction that these unexplained phenomena are here to help us sort out our apocalyptic existence on this mysterious planet. And you know what, why not?
Speaking of which: Did you know that 80 percent of the Earth’s oceans remain unexplored—and that there’s one spot in said ocean that might or might not be an alien base? Check out Lovato’s episode on USOs (that’s “unidentified submersible objects”) to learn more!
Lovato has, like so many stars who came up young, survived an unimaginable amount of personal turmoil in the public eye. Hollywood appears to have become somewhat protective of them in recent years, particularly after their terrifying overdose in 2018. Unidentified makes clear that Lovato’s experience at Joshua Tree and its aftereffects have become a part of their healing journey. (It culminates in a communal meditation, in which Lovato goes UFO-spotting after a group meditation with fans to manifest a stronger connection with the E.T.s.)
But truthfully, it’s just wonderful to see a celebrity that we all know has endured so much have such a good time.
At one point in Unidentified, well before they approach that glow-in-the-dark meditation pyramid, a hypnotherapist tells Lovato that they are “glowing”—and for all four hours of this series, they really are. Clad in a dizzying rotation of flashy sunglasses and clothes that would make any zoomer drool (I’m guessing as a woman who recently turned 30), Lovato spends the entire series laughing, beaming, squeaking with excitement and wonder. Their joy, both hard-earned and infectious, goes a long way for this series; it might not convince a skeptic to believe in aliens, but it does articulate beautifully the meaning one can find in the paranormal when they stop questioning and start believing.