The Midnight Gospel is an animated series that debuted on Netflix on Apr. 20, 2020. The trippy TV show tells the story of Clancy, a “space-caster” (also known as, a podcaster in space). If you’ve seen the series, you’ll be able to tell it took a ton of time and effort. How in the world was The Midnight Gospel made?
How the cartoon ‘The Midnight Gospel’ got developed and produced
In the eight-part Netflix The Midnight Gospel, comedian/podcast host Duncan Trussell voices the main character, Clancy. The New York Times reported that each episode consists of Clancy (AKA Trussell) speaking to “authors, spiritual guides and others that the comedian Duncan Trussell conducted for his podcast, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.”
According to IndieWire, who interviewed the show’s creators (Pendleton Ward, who worked on Adventure Time, and Duncan Trussell), “there was a method to the seeming madness of the show.”
“Pendleton and I both love simulation theory and VR,” Trussell told IndieWire. He continued on The Midnight Gospel’s progress:
We called our universe The Chromatic Ribbon and somewhere in there Clancy was born, doing nothing to understand the basics of what he’s doing or the culture of the place. He is an outsider, truly, and there’s a sense that he’s running away from something. And we knew that he’s not going to have a universe simulator that works since he bought a used one.
The Netflix animated show was based on Duncan Trussell’s spiritual podcast
Where did they go from there? IndieWire expanded:
This led to the idea of these simulated worlds breaking down all at once, with wonderfully imaginative, animated possibilities. Ward and Trussell began with a two-week writing summit with an assortment of gurus and scholars and comedians such as Weird Al Yankovic and Elmo Philips.
“It was a dreamy vertigo coming up with the end of the world,” Trussell shared. The Midnight Gospel co-creator continued on how that process worked:
Writers would come up with a series of beats for the ideas that clicked. And those beats became the plots. And the challenge for every episode was to create a balance somehow between the insanity of what was happening and a conversation that didn’t feel like background noise. And we had to bring everybody back from the podcasts —which was distilled down to 20 minutes — and have them read lines.
“We found a good ratio and ran with it,” Ward said. Although, the animated series veteran admitted it was difficult. He paired that concept with a great D&D reference:
For me, writing feels like playing ‘Dungeons & Dragons’… a lot of improvising in the moment and rarely planning too far ahead. Maybe Duncan knew where it’d end up. Honestly, I can’t remember. After I’m done workin’ on something it’s all mud in my mind.
However, “mud” in the mind The Midnight Gospel is not. We highly recommend the Netflix cartoon.