A&E's Damien: A Eulogy

Well kids, sometimes life doesn’t go as we want it to. Here’s a good example for you: This spring, A&E’s Damien became a must-watch ritual for me. Like many horror fans out there, I adore the 1976 masterpiece The Omen and count it among my favorite films. I was naturally a little skeptical that this newfangled TV program would deliver on its promise of being a sequel to the original movie. They did mess with the timeline a little, but all in all, I think the showrunners nailed it on this one. Sadly, it was recently announced that Damien will not be returning for a second season. Brothers and sisters, please bow your heads in respect as I tell you about my dearly departed friend, Damien.

The premise of the show was simple enough to begin with. We met up with Damien Thorn, now thirty years old and working as a war photographer. We got references back to his mysterious adoption, the death of his parents, years spent toddling around The White House, and then off to fancy-pants boarding school. Damien only has one close friend now. The reason for his isolation? People tend to drop dead around the guy. Or if not dead, maimed or such. He’s like some kind of walking bad luck charm to anyone who he dares get close to. Damien himself manages to escape from any given situation unscathed and intact, yet increasingly lonely and melancholy. The armies of light and dark have known that Damien shall fully awaken to his role as the anti-Christ now that he’s 30 years old. His calling mirrors that of Jesus, who started his ministry at the same age. Poor Damien has folks on both sides of the good vs. evil battle after him, who all desperately want their team to win. One cool thing about grown-up Damien Thorn, is that he's not a bad guy. Sure, he’s the anti-Christ, but he’s also a caring dude who just wants to love and live his life. He’s actually pretty likable once you get to know him. That’s what made him interesting. He wasn’t all darkness. Would he ever truly be all evil? What would he do as the Destroyer? Could Damien possibly continue to use his power and influence for good? Alas, we shall never know!

I was delighted to see that each episode seemed to push the envelope more and more. They ramped up on the violence, gore, increased scares, creepy religious dialogue, and so on. So…what went wrong? Apparently, the viewership numbers were just not there. Clearly, this show failed to sink its teeth into the horror fans it needed to keep it alive. The show aired on A&E, and I’m guessing the powers that be over there assumed they would have a built in audience with the popularity of Bates Motel. Well, guess that didn’t go as planned. Should this have aired on an “edgier” network? An FX? Or an HBO type of place? Was this show not horror enough for the genre fans out there? I was delighted to see that each episode seemed to push the envelope more and more, with the increased gore and all that other good stuff. Yet, I’ll admit I was secretly hoping that season 2 would REALLY go for broke and ramp up on the spooky hell-related stuff. C’mon guys! We are already tuned into a show about the anti-Christ! Creep us out! We like it! It’s a tricky balance for a television show to deliver the scares while also continuing to develop characters and further the plot. Maybe poor Damien was never marketed correctly to his target audience? It always makes me sad when a horror TV show or movie really bombs. Regardless of whether the content is to my liking or not, I want our genre to do well. When horror does well it makes money! And when money is made, more horror gets made!

In closing, I hope you can appreciate my grief. No fan ever wants to hear their show has been cancelled after they’ve been roped in and spent time and energy getting invested into the thing. Farewell, Damien. I guess the apocalypse will just have to go on without you.

~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)