Jordan Peele's 'Us' is a Creepy Tale That Sadly Mirrors Our Reality

On May 25, 1986, approximately 6.5 million Americans stood hand in hand forming a human chain that stretched from New York to California for an event called Hands Across America. It was a fundraiser project from USA for Africa (the same people who produced the “We Are the World” single the year before) in hopes of raising $100 million to fight hunger and homelessness. The hope was that everyone who participated would donate $10 for the cause. Families stood and sang together for 15 minutes. And then it was over.

I had trouble remembering if Hands Across America really happened or if it was a gimmick for the film when the original commercial for the event flashed on the big screen during the opening of Us. I only vaguely remember the event, which might have to do more with the fact that I have lived in Washington State my whole life and we weren’t involved in the project. I doubt that I’m the only one and I suspect that was also some of Jordan Peele’s reasoning as well whe…

‘Midnight, Texas’ is a Strange Place to Visit

Review of "Midnight, Texas."
 (l-r) Peter Mensah as Lemuel, Arielle Kebbel as Olivia, Parisa Fitz-Henley as Fiji
(Photo by: Cathy Kanavy/NBC)


Among NBC’s other summer fare of America’s Got Talent, World of Dance and American Ninja Warrior, the new scripted series, Midnight, Texas, looks out of place. Yes, the special effects are very impressive for a TV show, but like the residents who live there, this show is probably best suited for a unique audience.

Based on the book series by Charlaine Harris (who’s other book series inspired the True Blood TV series) the show is a mishmash of genres including horror, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery and some soap opera thrown in for good measure. Sort of like if you put The Sixth Sense, X-Men, Dracula and Days of Our Lives in a blender, Midnight Texas is what you would get.

The pilot opens with Manfred (Francois Arnaud) opening the door to his faithful client. He tells her that he has to raise his fees and she assures him that he is worth every penny. The camera then shows the door of his bedroom leading the viewer to believe that he works as a gigolo, but in fact, he actually works as a physic and good one at that. In the middle of their session, the woman’s dead husband appears not too happy to hear about her new dating life, possesses Manfred and all hell breaks loose. This is your first clue that the viewer is in for a wild ride and a huge warning to people like myself that this is not your kind of show.

So, apparently, Manfred likes to think of himself as a fraud but he clearly isn’t. He has a knack for communicating with dead people. When he packs up his belongings in his RV to skip town, his dead grandmother Xylda (Joanne Camp) hitches a ride. She tells him about the town of Midnight Texas and how it would be a good place for her grandson to lay low for a while. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Review of "Midnight, Texas."
Manfred (Francois Arnaud)
The town of Midnight is said to “sit on a veil between the living and hell” according to NBC. Although some of the residents seem friendly, this is an angry place and one that seems bent on offending Christians. There is the spooky Rev. Emilo Sheehan (Yul Vazquez) who seems well aware of the supernatural events that surround his town, but isn’t fazed by them. He is quite fond of his pet cemetery for some reason. Fiji Cavanaugh (Parisa Fitz-Henley) is described by one of the local police officers as being either a witch or a lesbian. (This seems rather harsh and I wouldn’t be surprised if this police officer will later be viewed as a self-righteous Christian, but I’m only speculating.) Joe Strong (Jason Lewis) sprouts wings and is described by NBC as being an angel who works doing the day as a tattoo artist. It is implied that he has a gay relationship with a beautician. He tells that same police officer about how some of the locals frown upon his lifestyle but he doesn’t judge others because that’s the “Christian way.” Lemuel (Peter Mensah) is a blue-eyed African American vampire who works the “night shift” at Bobo’s (Dylan Bruce) pawn shop. Olivia (Arielle Kebbel) is a mysterious assassin and Creek (Sarah Ramos) is a writer who seems the most normal of the bunch but is said to find out that her family is harboring a secret.

Review of "Midnight, Texas."
Francois Arnaud as Manfred, Yul Vázquez as Rev. Sheehan
Manfred has barely arrived then a dead body has washed up onto shore. Since he can talk to dead people, she arrives in his new home wanting to chat. She’s also brought a few friends with her as well. He attempts to communicate with them by using a Ouija board.

So, essentially, Midnight is a town for outsiders, dead or alive, who don’t fit in with what we consider “normal” society. The townfolk band together to fight off the deadly “satanic” biker gang and local police in order to keep living their lives in peace. Uh-huh.

This isn’t my kind of show not only because of the subject matter and tone, but also because the storytelling seems sloppy. It seems that the show is giving away too much of the mystery elements too soon. However, you can judge for yourself as Midnight, Texas premieres tonight and continues each Monday at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.


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