If you like ancient deities, leprechauns, and mysterious white buffaloes have we got a show for you. It would not be a stretch to say that American Gods on Starz has been the most highly anticipated TV show for the last year. As a diehard Neil Gaiman fan I’ve been dying to see this show since it was first announced in what seems like ages ago. I wanted to watch it so bad that I even signed up for a 7 day free trial of Starz on the Xbox (and now I have to decide if I want to keep it…). Let me first say that I desperately wanted this show to be epic and I had cautiously lofty expectations going in but I also had reason for concern.
If you are reading this you probably already know what the show and book (by the same name) is about but for those of you who don’t, here is the basic premise. Over the course of history various groups of immigrants ranging from Native Americans, Norse, Irish, Egyptians, Russians, Indian’s and just about every people group can imagine brought their gods to America with them. These gods have continued to exist over here but not like they used to. People don’t believe in them like they did back in the day and due to this their powers are waning. At the same time, new gods have emerged and are waging a sort of war against the old gods. Enter the character Shadow Moon who is just released from prison and for various reasons finds himself employed by a Mr. Wednesday, who turns out to be one of these old gods (sorry for slight spoiler). Soon Shadow finds himself in a strange world of mythology coming to life and he ends up on quite an interesting adventure.
So there is the overall plot, but the big question is, how was it? Well, it depends on if you have read the book or not. If you have then the show delivered in spades. The first episode stayed very true to the first few chapters of the book and should leave Neil Gaiman fans very pleased with the results. If you have never read the book, you may be left scratching your head a little bit. Was it well made and enjoyable for first timers? Absolutely, however the first episode offers no real guidance about what exactly is going on here and who are these strange characters that keep popping up are. There is little to inform you about what is going on, except for a very interesting and violently comedic intro at the beginning. So you may feel a little confused about what exactly is going on. I would encourage you to stick with it though, since eventually all will be revealed.
That being said there are two things that really appealed to me about this series. The first is the sense of possibility that this show is built upon. While you may not understand what is going on one gets the sense they are watching something that has endless potential to be a very, very, good show. When watching it I felt like Starz was onto something great, something amazing, something that could be the next great TV series. It’s a show that can push the boundaries of what can be, just like the book does.
The second thig that appealed to me is the sense of the profound that the show possessed. We are talking about gods, faith, beliefs, and religions here after all and the show hits on these big ideas in many ways. I got the feeling that I was watching something profound. Something that touches on what it means to have faith. Somethings that explores the relationship between ancient beliefs and new ones and what it means to have faith in modern America. It pits “the old ways” of gods like Odin and Anansi versus our “new ways” of technological gods such as the internet and smart phones. Simply put, I love the ability this show has to focus a very powerful lens on the idols of this modern Babylon we live in. It is a show that challenges the nature of belief and I absolutely love that.
It looks like I will be keeping that Starz subscription after all.
What are your thoughts on American Gods? I would love to hear them.
You can follow Jefferson @nerdsinrecovery.