Midnight, Texas

Fans of the popular HBO vampire series True Blood will be thrilled that Charlaine Harris’ work has returned to television. The new NBC series Midnight, Texas is based on a series of books by Harris, just like True Blood was. And according to this article from Inverse, the similarities don’t end there.

Sure, it had delightfully absurd moments like vampires attending a Ted Cruz rally, or memorable lines like Pam’s “I’m so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name.” But beneath all the sex and blood and dramatic heart-ripping, True Blood was surprisingly earnest. It was a story set in a southern small town filled with a colorful mixture of humans, vampires, werewolves, and fairies. In one scene, vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) hammed it up in a magic vampire sex dream; in the next he had a serious sad moment with his vampire-dad Godric. And at no point did the show attempt any tonal distinction between these two scenes.

This grey area of camp and seriousness enabled True Blood to balance on the fence. It was a soap opera that gestured towards being a prestige drama. Because Midnight, Texas is not a premium cable show, it has significantly less sex, blood-geysers, and references to fairy vaginas. But it skirts the same odd line of the absurd and the earnest. Scenes that could easily be supernatural punchlines — a man sprouting giant feathery wings and suddenly taking flight; protagonist Manfred fighting with ghosts — are played straight.

Like True Blood, it’s set in supernatural small town America, and features a colorful cast of vampires, angels, psychics, and witches. The Sookie stand-in is Manfred (François Arnaud) a guy with an equally “stupid name,” as True Blood’s Pam would say. He’s psychic instead of telepathic but just like Sookie, his powers make him a constant outsider. And like *True Blood’s setting of Bon Temps, Louisiana, Midnight, Texas is supposedly a sleepy, dusty little town that — shockingly — isn’t as sleepy as it seems. It remains to be seen whether a show like this needs sex and blood spatter or if it can thrive on network TV, too. But for now, if you still miss True Blood, Midnight, Texas is a diluted mixture of the same ingredients.

So vampire fans, werewolf fans, fairy fans, and psychic fans should all enjoy the series. With such an extensive collection of supernatural creatures, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Oh, except maybe zombies – but we’ll have to see where the program goes. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they show up too at some point. Midnight, Texas premiered on July 24th and airs Monday nights on NBC.

Reinventing the Zombie

The zombie genre has gone through many changes over the years, and the process has really never stopped. This article talks about how zombies became the monsters that we find today in popular media.

You might be thinking that you know all things zombie. You can quote Daryl Dixon lines from “The Walking Dead” in your sleep, and you know that if the apocalypse starts tomorrow, you can best eradicate a zombie by shooting it in the head. But did you know that the word “zombie” didn’t enter the English language until 1871? And it wasn’t until 1929 that the word specifically denoted a person who had came back from the dead? Or what about the fact that in the original script of the 1968 movie “Night of the Living Dead,” the director referred to these versions of the modern-day zombie as “ghouls”?

Here’s the truth about zombies: They go far deeper than a decades-long pop culture trend, as do their symbolic themes of conformity, lifelessness and self-destruction. In the 21st century, it seems to be the zombie that most often satirizes the cultural tendency toward isolation, and reroutes living humans back toward community and a life away from society-enabled obsessions.

Modern zombies are unusual in that unlike most monsters, they aren’t rooted in folklore or mythology. The closest is probably the Haitian zombie, but even there the rotting flesh, craving for brains, and viral or viral-like infection that can be passed on by bites are nowhere to be found. Haitian zombies are alleged to be corpses reanimated by a magical ceremony, and it takes a lot more than a bite to create one.

The article goes on to describe several current books, television series, and films that are reinventing the zombie genre. If you’re fan, check them out!

Jewish Vampires Are Now a Thing

Crosses are a staple element of vampire lore. Over the years, some comedic films have played with the idea of non-Christian vampires, like Jewish vampires who are repelled by the Star of David and other such gimmicks. But a new Israeli television series about a Jewish vampire, Juda, has created a whole new mythology around the concept.

Juda, after winning an impressive amount of money from a Lebanese man (whom he told he was from Italy), is visited by the vampire. She sinks her fangs into him and takes off with the cash, but is horrified by the taste of his Jewish blood. Romanian vampires, it turns out, are not allowed to bite Jews, and she has brought shame and misfortune to her family (plus, she was apparently supposed to be able to smell his Jewish blood before biting).

Juda, meanwhile, is on his way back to Israel, without the money and with a developing desire to consume blood. Jewish vampires, it seems, take eight days to reach their full potential (there’s plenty more heavy-handed symbolism where that came from). And those eight days will not pass by quietly, as he is pursued by criminals, the police, the Romanian vampire family and, of course, rabbis.

I’m not sure how to go about watching Israeli television here in the states, but it sounds like this could be a fun series. According to reviews, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and incorporates both horror and comedy elements. Juda premiered last week on the Israeli HOT3 television network.