Late Friday night, NBC announced that it was cancelling Midnight, Texas – almost certainly down to low ratings. Not long after the news broke, Midnight, Texas owner Universal Studios announced it would try to shop the show to another network or streaming service.
Midnight, Texas was based on a trilogy of novels by Charlaine Harris, the creator of Sookie Stackhouse and the True Blood series. The books were actually set in the same universe as HBO‘s True Blood and even featured cameos and guest appearances from True Blood characters. The show follows a psychic who moves to the town of Midnight, Texas, a haven for supernatural creatures like vampires, angels, werewolves and witches who have formed a tight-knit community.
It premiered as a summer show in 2017 to good ratings that earned it a renewal. Since the first season ended, the show’s original showrunner, Monica Osuwu-Green, left to become the showrunner of the revival (or reboot, depending on what rumours you believe) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer under Joss Whedon. Consulting producers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder were promoted to showrunners for Season Two.
Season two of Midnight, Texas didn’t return in 2018 as a summer show but as a Fall premiere, debuting in time for Halloween. Unfortunately, its ratings fell lower than the first season’s. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it averaged only a 1.6 in the much-coveted adults 18-49 demographic audience and 2.9 million total viewers with three days of DVR-recorded viewing. Season one had more viewers in same-day figures – 3 million viewers. For a big network like NBC, it seems 3 million is the threshold number to hold off cancellation. Smaller networks like Fox or the CW have a higher threshold and getting over 2 million viewers usually ensures their shows’ survival.
You could say Midnight, Texas was a network’s attempt to catch the same “lightning-in-a-bottle” that True Blood did for HBO. You could argue that the results were somewhat watered down since network television are dictated by Standards & Practices, which prohibits the blood, nudity, gore and swearing that subscriber cable networks can gleefully get away with. Midnight, Texas had its fair share of romance, sex, and violence – but mainly of the PG-13 variety. The cast was amiable and likable enough, but there was a sense that any real flaws and rough edges had been filed off to make them palatable for a network television audience.
Midnight, Texas is a perfectly likeable show – but perhaps not quite special enough. It lacks that something that elevates a show to make it feel truly must-see, despite a good cast of actors playing characters often more likable and less nasty than the characters in True Blood. It’s hard to say why the show failed where other supernatural shows keep going strong. The Vampire Diaries franchise continues to thrive on CW – bolstered by a popular following on Netflix – with its second spinoff Legacies. The rebooted Charmed seems to be going along swimmingly on the CW. But then the CW seems to be able to tolerate lower viewing figures than the Big Three networks. Their shows’ popularity on Netflix also seems to ensure their security since Netflix pays a decent licensing price for streaming rights.
It remains to be seen whether Universal will succeed in saving Midnight, Texas and putting it on a new network or if its season finale on December 28th will truly be the series’ end.