When Mike Flanagan wrote Midnight Mass, it was an almost biographical exploration into a journey with sobriety. It was a story that was important to him not just as a writer; but as someone who has experienced a test of faith. There are moments of desperation within the lives of all of us, within the lives of addicts, and within the lives of those on the other side of the spectrum.
So it’s no surprise that the series on Netflix is performing so well; in fact, it’s one of the most talked-about dramas on the streaming service. If you’ve turned on Netflix, you’ve seen the trailer, and if you’ve logged in to social media, you’ve seen people talking about it. It’s a story about faith, addiction, and the struggles we all deal with in the places we rarely share with others.
So why is it pulling in so many viewers, fans of Flanagan, and people who are new to his craft? Likely because it deals with the thing we all want so much, the thing we all want so much of. It centers around hope. The series is set in a small island town where hope seems to be as absent as faith, so when a new preacher comes to town — the idea that things could change becomes a real possibility.
With change, however, comes the idea that things aren’t what they seem and that sometimes hope can blind us to the reality around us. It’s something you’ve likely dealt with in one way or another. On Christmas morning, you are hoping for that one gift you’ve wanted all year. You are waiting by the phone for a call that never comes or for a call that will bring good news and instead breaks your heart. There are planes of hope we all tiptoe on, in significant ways and small ones.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Flanagan had this to say about writing the story and how he felt it was needed. He doesn’t know how long he could have waited to write Midnight Mass.
“I don’t know how long I could have gone without writing it. There’s a very natural thing that happens where, if you’re writing anything that tiptoes into a personal place, you find yourself vomiting up all sorts of things into it. It’s happened to me with Hill House in a pretty big way. It happened with The Haunting of Bly Manor. This one, though, was the story I always wanted to tell.”
He wanted to tell the story so much that Midnight Mass’s title pops up in many of his other pieces of work as an easter egg. It was necessary to put this into fruition in one way or another; he needed to tell the story and write it for himself. He had a relationship with Midnight Mass.
“Here’s this long scene I had written about atheism. Let me look at that a few years later and rebut it. Let me try to honestly come in and challenge my own idea. Here’s a long scene about alcoholism. Let me really try to come in and talk about recovery. Being in conversation with my various selves over the last 11 years, that have all dipped into this story, that’s what makes it so personal for me. I don’t know that I’ll ever be lucky enough to have that experience again with another piece of work.”
For anyone who struggles, it’s easy to find yourself in the characters of Midnight Mass, be it as a hopeful who is waiting on a miracle, an addict trying to overcome a tainted past or someone who sees the bigger picture and can never quite capture it — there’s a place on Crockett Island for you.
You can watch Midnight Mass on Netflix, now.