Midnight Mass

The Feisty Indian Aunty Watches… Midnight Mass

Dept. of Aunty Analysis


Hello everyone, it is I, your Feisty Indian Aunty who just watched Midnight Mass on Netflix and became completely caught up with the stories of the residents of Crockett Island. Admittedly, those first two episodes were a little slow moving, but I persevered because I felt that there was something truly fascinating brewing. And boy, I’m so glad I did.

First, a little background. Crockett Island is a place so remote that all people had was their faith. Both in God and in their much loved pastor, Monsignor Pruitt. The story centers around an ensemble of characters but we spend most of our time with Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), a successful entrepreneur who has served time in prison for killing a woman while drunk driving, Erin Greene, (Kate Siegel) a teacher and Riley’s childhood girlfriend, and Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater), a vibrant young priest who comes into town to replace Monsignor Pruitt after he’s been taken ill.

Spoiler Warning

(For a deeper analysis on the series, you can check out the Goggler review here. Midnight Mass also features one of the most nuanced portrayals of Islam on television. You can read about that here.)

Midnight Mass

What made me binge-watch this series was how incredibly well it portrayed the impact that religion can have on a society. These were a group of people who were so completely influenced with the tenets of their faith. So much so that it affected their ability to think rationally. I felt such utter defeat at the fate of these individuals, initially by their waning faith in the church, and then by their inability to stand up to the obsessive and fanatical Bev Keane. Bev’s tremendous influence with the flock, buttressed by her knowledge of scripture was absolutely terrifying. I’ve seen it happen around me, to people I know, and it’s always amazed me how much fear and deference can come to rule our lives.

What fascinated me about Midnight Mass was the way Monsignor Pruitt was transformed into a young man, into Father Paul Hill, by what he thought and called “the angel,” who drank his blood and made him alive again. To me, angels were beautiful, they had white wings and were symbols of peace and love. Totally unlike the “angel” that the Monsignor saw. This was a beautiful subversion on the part of Mike Flanagan, who twisted the beautiful idea of Holy Communion into something truly scary.

Notwithstanding his faith and belief in the scriptures, Monsignor Pruitt as Father Paul was truly a parasite, as his hunger could only be satisfied by the drinking of blood. Combine that with the image of that hideous flying creature and what you have is a metaphor that undermines everything you know and believe.

Midnight Mass

Horror movies and TV shows don’t really scare me. But Midnight Mass did. I may be a practicing Hindu, but I was educated at a Christian mission school which gave me the knowledge of both the New and the Old Testaments. Living in Malaysia, and having lived among Muslims all of my life, I also have a certain exposure to Islam and how it’s practiced. It was all of that entrenched religiosity that played on my psyche while watching this series. That’s what got into my head and under my skin.

I’m not sure whether or not someone who isn’t religious would find Midnight Mass as horrifying as I did. But if you possess some faith of any kind, this series will definitely hit you hard.

Go watch Midnight Mass. Be scared by what can really happen to people who believe without question or rationality. Be afraid by the people that weird such power. Hitler had it. So did Stalin and every power-crazy overzealous religious bigot evangelist who has ever walked among us. God knows some our own dopey politicians strive for such influence. Thank God they’re not nearly as smart or creative as Mike Flanagan.

P.S. It helped that the show features a truly smart and sexy Indian man as one of the leads. God knows the world needs more Rahul Kohli.

Midnight Mass is now streaming on Netflix.

You can read all The Feisty Indian Aunty’s previous columns here.

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