There are a ton of TV shows based on horror movies currently on the air, with more seemingly always on the way. Most of them are pretty great; Ash vs. Evil Dead is a dream come true for fans and continues to be just as strong in its second season, Bates Motel has got better and better with each passing season to become one of the best thrillers on TV, From Dusk Till Dawn is an incredibly underrated series that has expanded the mythology of the film in surprising and intriguing ways and Scream took a leap in its second season to be a teen slasher that stopped playing it safe for the sake of the audience and didn’t pull any punches.
All of these shows have their respective fan bases. And then there’s The Exorcist. This series has had to conquer so much, battling seriously high expectations, because it’s based on the one movie most widely considered to be the best horror of all time. Doing The Exorcist as a TV show is incredibly high risk. Yet, somehow, the people behind it managed to pull it off. And, out of all the series mentioned above, The Exorcist has easily had one of the strongest debut seasons.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that this could also be its final season. Despite being practically everything fans could want from an Exorcist TV show, people just aren’t watching it. The show is limping through the ratings. The viewership seems to be lessening from week to week and nobody is catching on to how great The Exorcist actually is.
Admittedly, it’s hard to ask people to watch the show on the same night it airs, because it’s a Friday which is of course a night that people are out and doing other things. For TV, Friday is typically considered to be where shows go to die. It had to have been placed there because the network did not have faith in its ability to succeed. But, far from not watching it because of the night it’s on, most people just seem to not be watching it period. The show is on Hulu. It can be DVR’d. There are ways to see it.
I’ll admit, I had my reservations. I was hesitant to imagine how an Exorcist series could work on a weekly basis, mostly because possession is usually kind of a one note thing. If it were to be about a priest battling the demon inside of a helpless young girl for the duration of a whole season, it could get really boring, really fast. [SPOILER WARNING: The big twist that came at the end of episode five is after the jump, so stop reading now if you haven’t watched it yet].
When I watched the pilot, I found the characters and developing story engaging, but I had a slight problem with the approach to the possession itself. In the original film, Chris MacNeil exhausts every natural explanation that she can, every medical and psychological possibility, before she even entertains the notion that her daughter might actually be possessed by something unworldly. That’s a huge part of what makes the movie work so well, and why it has endured for so long.
In contrast, in the TV series, it took all of five seconds for Geena Davis to completely arrive at the idea of exorcism. She’s convinced that her daughter is possessed from the first time that we see her in the episode. So, naturally, I figured it would be great if Davis’s character was just revealed to be Reagan, because then it would make total sense that she wouldn’t question the idea of possession because she would know exactly what it looked like.
I was still just as surprised as every other fan both watching and not watching the show when that actually turned out to be the case, though. It was a great reveal and it made complete sense within the narrative that the show has been building. But even though this was the plot point that got people talking, The Exorcist is full of twists and turns like this from week to week. It’s consistently leaving our collective jaws on the floor.
A show this good should be rewarded. Fans really need to start checking this out before it’s too late. Because I can already see how this is probably going to go. The show will not get the ratings it needs. Maybe it will get a second season, but it will still be cancelled. Then it will hit a major streaming service like Netflix. At that point, everyone will binge it and see how good it is and then start to complain that it was gone before its time.
We can avoid that by tuning in. Even if you DVR it or watch it on Hulu, it makes a difference. It will at least show the network that people are interested and will maybe even convince Fox to move it to a different night. But, if people don’t start watching, then the best thing to happen to this franchise since Exorcist III won’t even get the time it needs to tell the story it has to tell, and to become as great as it clearly could be, and that’s a real shame.