ANYONE who’s a fan of Hannibal knows that anything made by its creator, Bryan Fuller, will not be for the faint-hearted.
Alongside Michael Green, Fuller brings us American Gods. Based on the bestselling novel by Neil Gaiman, the show centres on Shadow Moon (Ricky Wittle), who is released early from prison after his wife (Emily Browning) dies in a car accident. With nothing left, Shadow finds himself working for a man known as Mr Wednesday as he travels across America recruiting soldiers for a mysterious war. Shadow soon discovers that this mysterious war is being fought between The Old Gods and The New Gods.
Having never heard of the book prior to its TV adaption, I was drawn by its intriguing concept. The people of the modern world are not worshipping The Old Gods as much as they used to (think Anubis, Odin, Bilquis, jinn from Islamic mythology, and leprechauns.) Just to say, a six-foot-five leprechaun played by Orange is the New Black‘s Pablo Schreiber is one of the best characters on the show – despite being a massive arse.
Anyway, these Old Gods are getting weaker as they exist purely from humans worshipping and following them. Bilquis, an Old Goddess of love once revered for her sexuality, is reduced to living on the streets and then having to use a dating app to find worshippers. A jinn who emigrated from the Middle East finds himself working as a taxi driver in New York. And Anubis – the Egyptian god of the afterlife – owns a funeral parlour.
Thanks to our modern obsession with social media, new ways of ‘worshipping’ have birthed New Gods – Media (Gillian Anderson), Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), and Mr. World (Crispin Glover).
Modern people are constantly worshipping and strengthening these Gods, despite being completely unaware that this is what they are doing. Gillian Anderson of The X-Files fame pulls out all of her acting skills for her role as Media: a personification of television and entertainment. Throughout the series, Anderson portrays a multitude of famous characters from TV and film including Ziggy Stardust, Marilyn Monroe, and Lucy Ricardo.
A word of warning: Do not watch this show with your parents. I made this mistake after witnessing Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) literally suck a man into her vagina, which whilst admirable is not family friendly viewing.
“A word of warning- do not watch this show with your parents.”
Granted the show is full of explicit sex scenes and is probably blowing most of their budget on fake blood, but American Gods isn’t just an excuse for sex, guts and gore; it also involves great storytelling. Each episode begins with a ‘Coming to America’ chapter which focuses on a different group of people throughout history coming to America and the Old Gods they brought with them. From ships transporting slaves as well as their trickster spider God Anansi to the first Siberian immigrants to North America whose Old God dies after being forgotten.
Each episode begins with a ‘Coming to America’ chapter which focuses on a different group of people throughout history coming to America and the Old Gods they brought with them. From ships transporting slaves as well as their trickster spider God Anansi to the first Siberian immigrants to North America whose Old God dies after being forgotten.
Also, the title sequence is ingenious, combining religious and mythological imagery with modern images, from a Buddha surrounded by party drugs and a fibre optic Medusa to a smartphone brandishing Ganesha and a crucified astronaut.
The show’s only critical flaw was the season finale; primarily the fact that I didn’t even realise it was the season finale. Abrupt and lacklustre, the final episode is disappointing and lets the rest of the season down.
The entire first season of American Gods if currently available on Amazon Prime, so go and binge the whole thing right now, for god’s sake.