American Gods Review
By Vango Fett
The story of gods and man is as old as recorded history itself. The many incarnations that we know today have changed over thousands of years, some skewed into obscurity, and others forgotten entirely. However, even the oldest of gods find their ways back into the present lives of those who didn’t even know they existed before. Pulled from the fires of Hel or from the endless night of the Du’at, one man was determined to make sure the obscure found their legions once more. That man’s name is Neil Gaiman, who in 2001 published the novel that 16 years later would finally grace televisions across the globe in all of it’s blood splattered and lust filled glory.
Originally, it was a third person narrative of an ex-con named Shadow Moon, trying to find his way in life after the death of his wife and a “chance” encounter with a man by the moniker Mr. Wednesday. A man thrown into a battle he hardly has a chance to begin to understand before everything falls to shambles around him. A story of old gods fighting to stay out of the realm of obscurity, and the new gods of the modern world trying to force them into it. Having been a fan of the book for years, and having almost cried when I heard it was becoming a TV series, I honestly wasn’t too sure what to expect. Would it live up to the story I had fallen in love with? Would the characters look like what I had pictured in my head? WHO WOULD DO JUSTICE DO MY TRASH BABY MAD SWEENEY?
It exceeded everything I could have hoped for. What I had expected, I suppose, was another True Blood scenario. A show that pulled basic ideas and plot lines from the original text, but skewed them to fit the new writer’s narrative to a world far changed from the time when the book was published. The original story featured some of my favorite archetypes of literature; manifest destiny, unwilling and morally ambiguous heroes, multiple different stories bleeding down a finely spun web into a single purpose. Neil Gaiman is unapologetically realistic in his writing, providing a solid basis for the imagination to take flight on this magical and bloody journey painted in the words of his stories.
After I had heard of the series development, I was worried. After all, I had been scorned by previous attempts to being reality to my favorite stories (*cough* Queen of the Damned*cough*), and something so perfect as American Gods I, along with all the other fans of the original story, didn’t want to see some haphazard attempt at bringing it to life. Once the cast was announced and I found that Neil himself had given his blessing to the show, I took an easy breath. Now, as all shows do, there were some parts that differed from the original story which was only to be expected. After all, the writers of the show were fans of the book themselves and they had been given a bit of creative freedom to build upon the fascinating world with how they saw fit. In the past, this has been done and it has ended in disaster. I mean, you cant just put a dessert in front of grandma at Thanksgiving and say it’s her original apple pie recipe and present her with a fruits of forrest cobbler. She wouldn’t be too happy about that I imagine, and that’s how it is with book to TV adaptions as well. However, when you can say “Hey grandma, I took your recipe but tweaked it a bit” and the whole family loves it wants more, you know you did something right.
That’s exactly what Brian Fuller and Michael Green managed to do. They presented us with a tweaked recipe that reminded us of the original but still managed to leave us wanting more. In my case, wanting much more. American Gods is one of my favorite books, and this TV series did it more justice than I could’ve imagined. The casting was incredible, the writing was as smooth as sailing on calm seas, and the acting was like eating the best thing you’ve ever tasted. All you can ask from a series adapted from one of your favorite books is that it provides you with something similar to what you imagined while reading it the first time. Something you can sink into your couch every Sunday and be sucked into a fantastic world once more. Like watching a waking dream, seeing everything everything from the outside but experiencing it all as the characters do. American Gods delivered exactly that. While there are multiple fantastic shows out there to watch, this one is one I would recommend to anyone looking for something less cookie cutter, and more just shoving an entire handful of raw cookie dough in your mouth. It gory, adult, plentiful of sex and mayhem, and filled with symbolic imagery. It’s a beautiful show to look at, wonderfully shot and edited, with eye pleasing color correction that makes other shows of it’s kind seem juvenile in comparison. More than likely due to the fact it’s not a network television show, but airing on Starz which is known for it’s gritty and enchanting shows.
You get pulled in to the characters, realizing that it’s more than just some action series full of blood an sex. Sure, there is plenty of that, but the way the stories interweave with each other, coming together in a colorful web seemingly spun by Mr Nancy himself. American Gods is certainly not a show to watch with your kids around if you care about their sensitivity, but if you’re looking for something to really invest in that isn’t for the faint of heart, the this show is one I would recommend to you.
The first season is completed, and all glorious 8 episodes can be watched with a Starz subscription which is worth the $7.00 a month for access to this plus lots of other great content. Or, however you stream shows online, but remember; Mr. World is always watching.
Season Two is set for a premiere sometime in 2018, which thankfully is only 3 months away, but give you plenty of time to catch up on season one! For those in the UK, American Gods is also available through Amazon Prime.
Watch the show, and tell us what you think!