WonderCon 2017: Cast of Midnight, Texas Talks Love, Terror, and What to Expect from Season 1

Let’s be real; there are about 1,000 genre shows out there right now. And not all of them are great. We might be in the golden age of television, but that doesn’t mean that every new show about superheroes, space, or the supernatural is going to be a gem. I won’t go naming names here, but it seems like even the most ill-conceived shows can ride this era of good feelings into an easy Season 2 (or 13).

Now, as a professional nerd, I have the luxury of checking out all of these shows while I sink further into the person-size indentation on my couch. But you’re a hard working dude/gal and need to know what’s what before signing up for six seasons and a movie.

So when you hear that “Midnight, Texas” is an upcoming supernatural thriller/character drama, your brain probably jumps to HBO’s hit softcore vampire bloodbath “True Blood.” Which is correct, since both “Midnight, Texas” and “True Blood” are adaptations of book series by Charlaine Harris. Although set in a totally different world, there are immediately recognizable elements. You’ve got monsters, the people that love them, and a whole lot of danger lurking around every corner.

If you’re a fan of Harris’ work, you’ll know that the show “True Blood” took significant creative liberty with the franchise. So going into a meeting with the cast at WonderCon 2017, my main question was how the show would compare to both “True Blood” and the Midnight, Texas novels. The first person I got to sit down with first was Monica Owusu-Breen, executive producer of “Midnight, Texas”:

Monica Owusu-Breen: “Midnight, Texas” is based on a trilogy of books by Charlaine Harris about a small town in the middle of nowhere, a weird town where no one wants to go. Our lead man moves into this town and realizes there’s a lot of strangeness to it, which is good, because he’s strange too. It’s a town of supernatural people and the people who love them. It’s also on a veil to hell, and that veil might be fraying. That’s something that you’ll learn in the second episode.

Arielle Kebbel as Olivia, Peter Mensah as Lemuel

So you get a pretty good sense of what to expect from that description. But for fans of Harris’ other works, I wanted to know specifically what the fans of the novels would get out of the show and how it would compare to “True Blood”:

Monica Owusu-Breen: The character hearts in “Midnight, Texas” are the same as the novel, but the pace is much faster. The characters in the books will take time sitting around and cooking and just talking about things, which I loved and it was so fun being in that world, but you have to develop TV with incident and action. It’s the spirit of the book on steroids. I think the differences between “True Blood” and “Midnight” are the themes. “True Blood” is about sex, desire, and bodily fluids. “Midnight” is about community, family, and love. It makes it a lot less HBO necessary, but it’s the same level of wonder and creativity. It has a sense of humor, too. Charlaine’s supernatural characters aren’t just their supernatural powers. They’re funny, sexy, they fall in love and get mad. Very three-dimensional characters. That was the same with “True Blood,” but I think our stories center around different things. Because the themes are so different, there’s never been a moment where I wanted to do something and they said no. Which surprised me because we go to some intense and dark places. I kept expecting someone to tell me, “Monica, you can’t do that.” And they never did. We’ve had a lot of support.

So maybe no boobs, but still plenty of human-on-supernatural creature romance. Hey, I’m an adult; I can admit I’m into sexy vampire love bites. Who doesn’t love watching their favorite characters struggle with their feelings leading up to a climactic kiss during the finale? Big manly dudes can cry too, you know.

Next up was Jason Lewis, who plays the angel Joe Strong in “Midnight, Texas.” He had a bit more to say on these themes of love and community:

Jason Lewis: That’s one of the things that I think is great about this. Even though this is a Charlaine Harris novel, this is a very different world from “True Blood.” We’re not a vampire show; we’re a show that has a vampire in it, among many other things. The external forces are much different. We’re a gathered family protecting our way of life. There’s a specific message “Midnight, Texas” gets across. When you’re sitting alone in your room, which I did a lot as a kid, feeling like a freak, it’s hard to realize you’re not alone. Just because you don’t fit the zeitgeist the media pushes in your current circumstances, it doesn’t mean you don’t matter. I don’t think anyone on this planet doesn’t deserve a space.

Jason Lewis as Joe Strong

Co-star Arielle Kebbel, who portrays Olivia Charity, elaborated on what this meant on a character level:

Arielle Kebbel: We’re all dark characters with our own batch of secrets. As the series goes on, you’ll get some insight into each of our stories. With Olivia, she’s had a really traumatic childhood. It’s led her down a very specific path, with a lot of anger to work out, but also a fiercely protective side. A central theme of the show is that you don’t know who someone is just based on what they are.

I don’t think that any of us should be surprised at the obvious political message here. “True Blood” wasn’t exactly subtle with their “God Hates Fangs” signs. And really, is a simple message of inclusion so provocative?

So far it sounds kind of… PG? I’m all for peace love and understanding, but this is Dread Central. What about the scary shit? Here’s what François Arnaud, who plays the lead, Manfred Bernardo, had to say about that:

François Arnaud: There’s a bit of a left turn after the pilot. It’s sweet and whimsical compared to what you can expect from the rest of the series further in. We were adamant to make the possessions look physically painful. I wouldn’t say it goes full splattergore, but it does get bloody. More so, it gets tense and disturbing. The makeup in the later season for my character was definitely freaking people out. There’s not much I can say, but there’s definitely a demonic aspect to it. Each episode is written like a chapter, exploring the background of one of the main characters. There’s a new monster in every episode, but we work hard on making them feel real and compelling. This isn’t just another “monster of the week” show. There’s a lot of places we go.

Shannon Lorance as Aubrey, Francois Arnaud as Manfred

Co-star Sarah Ramos, who plays Creek, elaborated a bit more on what the characters go through:

Sarah Ramos: It’s about a group of outsiders who all come together in this town that they’ve come to call home. When threatened, they have to fight to protect it. Even defend a humanity that has ostracized them in the past. Creek doesn’t have any powers, but she does have her fair share of secrets. She grew up in Midnight, Texas, has been there since she was a kid, as the youngest people in town other than her little brother. This community is her family; she’s one of them even though she isn’t like them.

So a ragtag group of vampires, ghosts, angels, etc., fighting demons in a rundown Texas town? All right, sounds interesting enough. But the line I feel sold the show best came from Dylan Bruce, who plays Bobo Winthrome in “Midnight, Texas”:

Dylan Bruce: “Midnight, Texas” is hot and steamy like any other Charlaine Harris series, with supernatural elements to blow your mind. We’ve got sweet relationships grounded in reality that will make you fall in love with the show. And men are shirtless a lot. Everyone has abs. It’s all the things you ever wanted from a genre show with an even bigger dose of the human element. And for horror fans this show gets dark. We go to some really terrifying places. What we deal with, the real pains of life, social issues we all deal with, it just makes the monsters that much more real. It’s like all your favorite genre elements thrown into a blender.

I always like these new show interviews since you never really know what to expect. The show hasn’t had time to spin its wheels yet, and everyone is still unsure if they will be coming back for a Season 2. As it stands, we’re still a ways off of the July 24th (10/9c) premiere, so expect a hefty bunch of information before then. If sexy supernatural thrillers are your thing, then keep checking back in for the latest word on “Midnight, Texas.” And if sexy supernatural thrillers aren’t your thing… why? Vampires are hot now. Don’t fight it.

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Ted Hentschke

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