For most of us Truebies, there's been a Bon Temp-shaped supernatural hole in our hearts ever since HBO's True Blood came to an end. Though the series had a great run, it's eventual end left us with no viable replacement, and no way of truly satisfying our fix for southern supernatural shows.
Luckily, NBC's #MidnightTexas has arrived to save the day, and it's the perfect mix of mystery and fantasy. The show aired its first episode a few weeks ago to fairly high viewing figures, and has so far managed to effortlessly blend the southern vibes of True Blood with a unique supernatural outlook. Though it undoubtedly shares similarities with True Blood, its actually the show's differences that make it a worthy replacement, ensuring that Midnight, Texas is more than just a carbon copy of a show we already love.
Similarities To True Blood Compliment The Show
The main similarity between both shows is their mutual setting. Southern mystery series are what author Charlaine Harris does best and Midnight, Texas is no different. The show follows psychic Manfred Bernardo as he moves across the country to Midnight, Texas for a better life. Of course, if things went smoothly, there'd be no books or television series, so naturally, Manfred experiences a few issues with his move.
Manfred moves to Midnight on the advice of his late grandma - who he sees and speaks to regularly - which is how he discovers that Midnight isn't just a small town in the south. In fact, it's a safe haven (of sorts) for supernatural beings, including town vampire, Lemuel. Although everyone in Midnight is fairly welcoming to Manfred, sensing that he too has something a little off about him, there are those who remain suspicious.
Olivia, played by The Vampire Diaries' Arielle Kebbel, is the town assassin with a truckload of secrets. We're also introduced to Fiji Cavanaugh, a Witch played by Luke Cage's Parisa Fitz-Henley, who's arguably the most friendly of the bunch after human waitress Creek, played by Sarah Ramos. Two of the most interesting characters on the show come courtesy of Jason Lewis and Yul Vazquez, who play fallen angel Joe Strong and Reverend/Weretiger Emilio Sheehan.
Despite his fallen angel status, Joe is said to be constantly watching over the town. We see him take flight in Episode 1, sprouting the most magnificent white wings from his back for a fallen angel. He becomes increasingly worried as the show continues, sensing that darkness and evil are on their way to Midnight.
Manfred Bernado Vs. Sookie Stackhouse: Characters With A Quirk
One of the really great things about True Blood was Sookie's characterization over the course of the show. She started off as a character with a quirk - a girl who could read minds and who the entire town thought was a weirdo, not unlike Manfred. As the show continued, Sookie became proud of her gifts, causing the nature of the show to change. She went from a complete outcast to Bon Temps' saving grace.
For #MidnightTexas's Manfred, you get the sense that he's lived his life as an outcast, just like Sookie. He arrives in Midnight as somewhat of a loner, with no family or friends and a hell of a lot of personal demons. Though this differs from Sookie, who lived her whole life in Bon Temps, and formed close friendships with its residents as she grew up, it's clear that Manfred will form similar friendships as the show progresses.
When he first arrives in Midnight, Manfred seems reluctant to showcase his abilities. However, as the series moves forward, Manfred realizes that Midnighters stick together and help one another, allowing him to becomes more comfortable with his abilities. He uses them openly to help solve a murder case, banding with the other Midnighters when one of their own is wrongly accused.
He very literally invites the other Midnighters into his home, allowing himself to be momentarily possessed to help solve a murder. This isn't unlike Sookie, who used her gifts more openly as True Blood progressed.
Manfred even makes the step towards placing his own trust in the residents of Midnight, when his Grandma encourages him to seek help for a problem he's having. This leads him to the door of resident Witch, Fiji Cavanaugh, who ends up helping him eradicate his problem almost entirely.
Differences Between These Shows Are Also A Strength
Just as Midnight, Texas and True Blood have their similarities, they also have their differences, and it's these differences that make Midnight, Texas so good.
One of the most notable differences is in the show's special effects and cinematography. Naturally, the show's only in its first season, so we can't and shouldn't expect groundbreaking effects any time soon. Regardless of this, there's a notable difference between the show's effects in comparison to True Blood's. The Lemuel's vampire speed and Manfred's apparitions have a decidedly supernatural aesthetic that True Blood's never had.
While True Blood normalized the supernatural world, Midnight, Texas provides a paranormal view of its supernatural characters. It chooses not to normalize the creatures and supernatural beings that inhabit the town of Midnight.
One of the major differences between the two shows is their narrative perspectives. True Blood followed Sookie's story, and as she started out on the show a fairly naive character, so too did the perspective of the world in which she inhabited. As Sookie grew older and wiser, the perspective became more adult - True Blood is known, after all, for having some pretty raunchy scenes!
Though both Manfred and Sookie have their quirks, their personalities differ significantly. Where Sookie tackles her problems head on, Manfred runs from his, and it's this trait that leads him to Midnight in the first place. The difference in their attitudes and personalities makes for a significantly different narrative perspective, which means a completely different outlook on the supernatural.
The focus on Manfred and his psychic abilities means the show seems closer to something like Ghost Whisperer than True Blood. This side of the supernatural (i.e not your typical creature features with vampires & werewolves at the forefront) makes for an incredibly interesting journey, as certain creatures are removed from the spotlight.
Even though the show features a vampire and a were-tiger, neither of them follow the predictable tropes commonly seen on televison. Lemuel, for example, isn't your typical vampire, and in no way acts like those on True Blood or The Vampire Diaries. He doesn't need or drink blood to survive, and a chance encounter with a mysterious woman led to him having the ability to survive purely by taking someone's life force. Early on, we see him take away some of Olivia's sadness, and we see him kill two vampires simply by touching them. Their bodies drop to the floor as corpses, meaning Lemuel never really needs to feed, or bare the guilt associated with it.
But Can Midnight, Texas Truly Replace True Blood?
In short, yes. Though the supernatural fantasy genre blew up a few year ago, with almost everything in entertainment catering to the new-found obsession, the industry has since moved on. Shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries are gone, with Teen Wolf and The Originals set to follow. So, shows like Midnight, Texas and Freeform's Shadowhunters provide the perfect replacement.
For those seeking an adult-like fantasy show, Midnight, Texas is the perfect choice. You get all the hype and excitement of supernatural fiction without the #YoungAdult tropes commonly associated with the genre.
If Midnight, Texas seems like your kind of show, tune in Monday nights on #NBC!
Will you be watching Midnight, Texas?