From Starz and showrunners Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green comes the smallscreen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved classic novel American Gods. Starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Gillian Anderson, Sean Harris, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Peter Stormare, Orlando Jones, Crispin Glover and Jonathan Tucker, the series will return for season 2 in 2018.
Ex-convict Shadow Moon roams a world he doesn’t understand, left adrift by the recent, tragic death of his wife. Little does he know his life is about to change after he meets a crafty, charismatic con man named Mr. Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job as his bodyguard. As their journey begins, Shadow encounters a hidden America where magic is real and fear grows over the ascending power of New Gods like Technology and Media. In a grand plan to combat the threat, Mr. Wednesday attempts to unite the Old Gods to defend their existence and rebuild the influence that they’ve lost, leaving Shadow struggling to accept this new world and his place in it.
Disclaimer – I did not finish reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods before I completed watching Starz’ incredible adaptation… That being said, the TV series I’m told goes well beyond the source material, pays homage to the incredible book and manages to bring some of Gaiman’s insane words to life in shockingly faithful detail. Whether it’s the infamous Djinn man on man sex scene that pushes the boundaries of smallscreen intercourse or the ridiculous moments when the goddess Bilquis to devour her lovers, trapping them inside her vagina. Literally.
If you liked Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal TV series, then you’ll probably love American Gods simply due to the fact that the gorgeous surreal dream (and non-dream) sequences will blow your freaking minds. If you aren’t high watching American Gods, you’ll feel stoned after taking that trip anyway… The visual effects are beautiful and twisted, ranging from moments of gore-soaked brutality to colourful explosions that may or may not take place when a genie is boning some dude while being transported to some orgasmic dimension of fire in the desert.
I’ll watch anything with Ian McShane in it and his performance as the mysterious Mr. Wednesday is one of his best. He winds up taking the arrogant and brutish Shadow Moon with him on a journey across the United States to recruit a few friends (the old Gods) in order to start a war with new Gods like Media (Gillian Anderson), Technology (Bruce Langley) andMr. World (Crispin Glover). You see — the premise of the show, although confusing due to all the weird characters, odd side-stories, is quite simple — The old Gods are struggling to stay alive because people no longer pray to them – but instead they have begun to worship the new Gods which have given birth to things like media and the internet etc. If you find yourself struggling to understand all the weird shit in American Gods – just hang tight and keep going back to that premise. It all works itself out by the season finale… Sorta.
While the core plotline deals with a war between gods, the personal plotline of Shadow Moon (played well by Ricky Whittle) is about a man just getting out of jail to find out his wife was killed in a carcrash. To make matters even worse, she died while engaging in some strange road sex with Moon’s best friend played by Dane Cook. The Dane train strikes again! It actually gets even weirder from there when she comes back from the dead. Minor spoiler, but also not really because Moon’s undead ex-fiance is an essential main character throughout season one. Laura Moon, played wonderfully by Emily Browning plays undead better than anyone else on TV. She’s not your typical zombie (not even close) and her eventual road trip pairing with the big ass Leprechaun Mad Sweeney almost steals the season out from underneath Shadow and Wednesday, especially later in the game.
Pablo Schreiber’s supporting performance as Mad Sweeney the 6 foot plus tall Leprechaun and associate of Mr. Wednesday is easily the biggest and most welcome surprise of American Gods’ debut season. In the novels, he doesn’t do much, but his character was given so much incredible life and scenery to chew up that he wound up becoming my favourite character. What could have been a completely cheesy, one-sided performance as a drunken asshole Leprechaun, ends up as something truly endearing and special thanks to Schreiber’s career-best acting performance. Give him an Emmy. And while you’re at it – consider Gillian Anderson too for her bizarre and stunning portrayal as the new Goddess Media. She steals every single bit of screentime that she’s a part of this season.
While much of this season is set-up for an inevitable full-scale battle between Mr. Wednesday’s team of Old Gods and Mr. World’s crew of the New — these eight episodes are jampacked with bizarrely fascinating characters that I would love to know more about. There was an incredible episode dedicated almost entirely to Mad Sweeney’s backstory and I have a feeling they could do that with ANY of the other Gods and they’d have my absolute full attention. I don’t know how long a series this strange can survive, but I hope for several more years… American Gods is the best new show of 2017 so far and a wonderful trip that fans of Hannibal and Gaiman’s works should be checking out immediately.
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