Ranae Holland is probably the key ingredient that makes the Finding Bigfoot show work so well. Yes, it's frustrating to watch Ranae shoot down entire claims made by witnesses, but she is also the reason why many people love the show. Although the show's entire focus is about searching for the elusive Bigfoot, Ranae the "skeptic" actually represents a lot of viewers who are like her. According to the show's executive producer Keith Hoffman, the viewers want to see people who don't just "totally believe."
The Seattle Times interviewed Ranae to ask her what it's like to be "the Skeptic" on the Animal Planet TV show. She tells us Finding Bigfoot is something that makes her feel more connected with her father who recently passed away in 2003:
Her interest in Bigfoot dates back to watching "In Search of ... " and 1970s-era Bigfoot movies with her father. Although she's a fan of the mystery of Bigfoot, she does not believe the creatures exist.
"I can't wrap my head around that there's a bipedal primate running around the woods of North America. ... There's not enough proof to say I believe," she said.
"But I'm fascinated by the idea of the phenomenon and intrigued by the reports. ... I'm curious by nature and I'm a problem solver. So I say, 'Here's the mystery, let's figure it out one way or another.' "
Holland said her role on "Finding Bigfoot" is to make sure the show's true believers "are not pulling stuff out of nowhere." She wants them to apply scientific methodology to their expeditions.
After Holland's father died in 2003 and she found herself in the woods, she went online to find reports of Bigfoot sightings. That's how she established an email and phone relationship with Matt Moneymaker, founder of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization and one of the stars of "Finding Bigfoot." He gave her access to the group's database of Bigfoot sightings.
"I love to find out Bigfoot stories wherever I'm doing field work," Holland said. But she had no aspirations to appear on TV before "Finding Bigfoot" and initially rejected invitations.
After seeking advice from respected science community colleagues, she gave in.
"They were like, 'Why not?' And I said, 'But if you Google my name, "Bigfoot" will come up.' And they said, 'You know in your heart you're a skeptic, and anyone who knows you knows how you feel and that you love Bigfoot stories,' " she recalled.
"And being on the show has not affected me professionally at all."
[...] Holland said she's having fun tramping woods all over the country with the "Finding Bigfoot" crew. She especially enjoys when the show invites locals to town-hall meetings to discuss their own Bigfoot encounters.
"Doing this Bigfoot show at times makes me feel close to my dad," she said. "Seeing 10-year-olds come to the town halls with their fathers really brings my relationship with my father full circle."
For those who are unfamiliar with the Finding Bigfoot, it's format is similar to other paranormal cable series like Syfy's "Ghost Hunters" franchise and A&E's recently concluded "Paranormal State."
The first season of "Finding Bigfoot" aired during the summer, drawing an average 1.2 million viewers, making it one of Animal Planet's top series. A second season is in the works for early next year, and a two-hour special, "Finding Bigfoot: Birth of a Legend," airs tonight at 9.
Finding Bigfoot: Birth of a Legend