Aliens aren’t always little green men with enormous eyes and pot bellies. Sometimes they are ordinary people who feel they are on the outside looking in. That’s one of the themes of NBC’s new fantasy, Midnight, Texas (available on iflix).
Based on the best-selling trilogy by Charlaine Harris, the series discovers Midnight, a small, isolated town in Texas where being different is the new normal. Nothing is what it appears to be.
Writer and executive producer Monica Owusu-Breen says she likes writing fantasy because it can serve as a metaphor for our struggles and feelings of alienation.
Actor Jason Lewis (Sex And The City) who plays an angel on the show, says he found acting a way of fitting in.
“For me, as a kid, stories were a place to go hide and disappear into other worlds than the one I was afforded, and I think that’s something that Midnight offers,” he says.
“We are a bunch of misfits, outsiders, the way it’s (viewed) to the rest of the world. But here we are family, and I think that’s something that most people kind of struggle with. Very few of us end up being born into perfect families. Some of us have to find them, and in Midnight, we found ours,” he says.
Parisa Fitz-Henley, who plays Fiji, a witch who owns the local Wiccan shop, says she felt like an outsider as a kid.
“I am bi-racial. I have one parent from the States, one parent from Jamaica. I grew up in a town where, if people knew that you were from that town, you got made fun of and called names. Growing up dealing with issues of race – this was in Florida – I always felt not quite right,” she says.
“I also felt like, as a woman, sometimes our gifts are not welcome in the world. And reading about Fiji, I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I so completely relate to her.’
“And in the books, you’ll see she deals a lot with issues of her own perception of self and her body and how she moves in the world, and I so related to that as well.”
Viewers continue to be fascinated with vampires and monsters, says Lewis, because they can relate to the loneliness of such creatures.
“There’s a story of (Mary) Shelley’s Frankenstein being a writing competition, who could write the worst monster. And Dr Frankenstein is the worst monster, not Frankenstein’s creature. I think it’s that thing of being TREATED like a monster. And I don’t think there is anybody who hasn’t experienced that at some level, even the cool kids. You are treated like there’s something wrong with you ….”
“Every character brings something different to the table,” says Francois Arnaud who plays a psychic who communicates with spirits from another world. “We are all wrestling with our inner demons, and it’s about controlling and taming them,” he says.
It was the culmination of real-life tragedies that inspired Owusu-Breen to write the series. “Two years ago, I had the worst fall of my life where my mother, my mother-in-law, and my dog all died in the same month, which sucked,” she says.
“So I wanted to develop something to take my mind off it. And I read two chapters and called my agent and said I had to (write it) because my mother lived in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere where every house is a row-house right next to each other.
“And my mother-in-law was a psychic who moved to a small town. So I feel like maybe they are watching. I can’t figure it out. But it felt like it would be weird not to develop this. So I had a real affinity for the material and these characters.” – Tribune News Service