On, perhaps, the most fitting date, the popular streaming service Netflix released “The Midnight Gospel” on April 20, 2020. Comprised of eight episodes, the adult animated series follows Clancy Gilroy, an interdimensional adventurer. Through a malfunctioning multiverse simulator, he charts the cosmos in search of interviews for his “spacecast.”
Portrayed by comedian and co-creator Duncan Trussell (known for his podcast, “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour,”) Gilroy often finds himself engaged in delightfully abstract and intimate discussion with some truly intriguing characters, varying from a fishbowl-head mage that dutifully presides over a feline-operated vessel or death herself. Conversation tackles the profound, ranging from drugs to death, and above all, spirituality.
All the while, the worlds around him are caught within a variety of chaotic scenarios, including an ensuing zombie apocalypse and a full-blown, “Groundhog Day”-esque prison riot. Always, at the very last second before sheer bedlam consumes the dying planet, Gilroy blows his magical horn and returns to the safety of his trailer.
Notably, each episode of “The Midnight Gospel” corresponds to a legitimate interview conducted by Trussell on “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.” For instance, the previously mentioned mage is actually voiced by Damien Echols, a member of the well-known West Memphis Three. Likewise, Death is voiced by mortician, activist and popular YouTuber Caitlin Doughty.
“The Midnight Gospel” features memorable and thought-provoking insight from an array of sources, including authors like Annie Lamott and wellness experts like Raghu Markus, Trudy Goodman and the esteemed guru Ram Dass.
Trussel has brought his comedic capabilities to other programs as well. These include the late-night sketch comedy show “Stupid Face” and “Galaxy Cabin,” where “a mountain man and a galactic space commander have adventures.” Trussel was also featured in Comedy Central’s hit series “Drunk History,” and is noted to have toured with comedian and “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan.
Keeping in tune with the overall freewheeling vibe, “The Midnight Gospel” enjoys poking fun at itself. At times, guests refer to Trussell instead of Gilroy and even later in the series, the fourth wall is broken in a truly light-hearted manner.
Audiences may also recognize the distinctly simplistic and colorful animation of co-creator Pendleton Ward. He is the mind behind the Emmy-winning television show “Adventure Time,” as well as the web series “Bravest Warriors.” Interestingly, the animation style attests to the unbridled imagination of “The Midnight Gospel.”
The show is chock-full of gorgeously trippy scenery, allusions to the arcane and other whimsical elements that never fail to enchant the viewer’s eye with their awe-inspiring charm.
Another compelling aspect of “The Midnight Gospel” is its soundtrack. It boasts an interesting compilation of music, extending from jovial bluegrass to transcendent electronic and notably a guttural cover of “The Hearse Song.”
Entertainment Weekly describes the show as “a heartfelt cosmic masterpiece.” “The Midnight Gospel” can also be summarized as a surrealist, psychedelic daydream. It is the intersection of many genres and supplies much food for thought. The show almost implores its audience to fathom the bigger picture, to acknowledge the inevitable and confront that anxiety so that we may truly “be here now.” Trussell’s inherently buoyant and inquisitive nature gives way for sincere interaction that will make one laugh and cry.
Nonetheless, make note that “The Midnight Gospel” is intended for mature audiences, as the program features violence, strong language and some gore. Should these elements prove palatable to audiences, they just might enjoy the show for the trip that it truly is.
Season one of “The Midnight Gospel” is currently available on Netflix.