Last September, as NBC’s Midnight, Texas neared its Season 1 finale, I feared End Times were upon us.
Though the summer series’ ratings had risen throughout its inaugural run, it was far from a lock for a renewal. The drama, loosely based on Charlaine Harris’ novels, was very quirky. It was about a ragtag bunch of supernatural beings living in a small, desert town. And though Midnight, Texas had heart, style and a healthy sense of what it was (and wasn’t), it also had some of the worst special effects seen on TV since Supernatural‘s Leviathans.
But I had fallen in love with it. And though I didn’t have a lot of hope, I didn’t want to see Midnight end. “The series built a world quickly, and well,” I tweeted at the time, “and it’s a world I like being in.”
Tonight’s episode (8/7c), sadly, really is the end of that world: Though the show eventually received a Season 2 renewal, NBC cancelled Midnight, Texas on Friday, meaning that the season-ender will have to serve as the series finale, as well. And because one of the show’s recurring themes is about how you always have to push on, even when things look bleak, I couldn’t let the series end without trying to bring a few more of you weirdos into the Midnight flock.
For the uninitiated, a quick catch-up: Midnight is a tiny Lone Star hamlet where the veil between our reality and the realm of the dead is quite thin. The town therefore has a mystical energy that attracts supernatural beings, many of whom have put down roots, charmed by the community’s tendency to accept outsiders, no questions asked. Among Midnight‘s denizens are Manfred, a psychic medium; Fiji, a witch; Lem, a vampire; Joe, an angel; and Olivia, an assassin-for-hire. (Full disclosure: The show asked me to moderate its New York Comic Con 2018 panel, which I did with gusto. I was not compensated in any way for that duty.)
I’ll be the first to admit that Midnight isn’t for everybody, even if you’re someone who enjoys cavorting among the Angels and the Salvatores of the TV world. First off, it’s bats—t. The storytelling is quick and dirty, with a “yeah, we know, but let’s just go with this” zeal that reminds me of Sleepy Hollow‘s early days. (Seriously: Last week’s penultimate episode featured incestuous ur-witches, an angel who voluntarily cut off his own wings in grief, and the beheading of the series’ main character.)
Second, the source material hews close enough to Harris’ other big television adaptation — True Blood — to draw comparisons, but not close enough to automatically suck in those who worship at the altar of Sookie Stackhouse. And third, those Season 1 effects really can’t be mocked enough: Indeed, they were a huge part of why my colleague Dave Nemetz panned the premiere back in 2017. (I can happily report that things look much more believable in Season 2. Or, as believable as floating sex and soul-butterflies that live in people’s chests can look.)
Yet for me, the way the members of Midnight‘s core group rally around each other trumps all. That’s thanks to the series’ writing team, which is great at nailing small-yet-important moments, and the excellent cast, whose chemistry gives the show a warmth and cohesion that ranks right up there with the ensemble work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Grimm.
During the aforementioned beheading, Arielle Kebbel’s Olivia and Dylan Bruce’s Bobo pleaded with Francois Arnaud’s doomed Manfred to keep his eyes on them as he died. “Look at me,” Olivia said through her tears. “We’re family. You’re not alone.” Was I dubious that Manfred was actually going to bite it with one more installment left in the supernatural season? Yes. (Though, as of the end of the episode, he’s real dead.) Did the moment make me cry, nonetheless? Absolutely.
Know what else makes me a little verklempt? The fact that the cancellation means so many people will miss out on the little details that make Midnight so damn good. Here’s a sampling. The show features multiple interracial couples. Its gay main character — Jason Lewis’ Joe —is the town’s oft-referenced moral compass. Manfred is a Dumpster fire of a hero whose sassy (albeit dead) grandma has to show up from time to time to set him straight. And wow, the slow-burn love story between Parisa Fitz-Henley’s Fiji and Dylan Bruce’s Bobo in Season 1 was at once achingly sweet and blisteringly hot… and it only got better/more complicated in the sophomore run. A bit of a spoiler: The cliff from which the couple’s tale hangs in the finale is a stunning one… or, it would be, were it ever to find resolution.
Unfortunately, unless some other network swoops in to save Midnight, Bobo, Fiji and the rest of the Midnighters are going to be left dangling. Because I’m unable to weave a spell like the town’s resident witchy woman, we’ll never know whether bringing the show back in the summer (where it started) or making old episodes easily accessible (they’re still not) would’ve made a difference.
Yep, this is where the fabulous freakshow ends. It’s too bad — you really should’ve bought a ticket.