What if God was standing right next to you in line to the airport? What if the world is a lot more magical and mysterious than people give it credit for? What if you could make it snow just by believing hard enough? These are the questions American Gods asks itself and its audience as it explores the subject of gods and their place in modern life as well as the importance of humans and belief.
But first, we’ll start from the top. American Gods is a recent prime-time TV series, whose first 8 episode season just ended, based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Neil Geiman. The original story gained a cult following that began to spread over the years due to the way it explored the idea of gods from all kinds of mythology migrating to the US, as well as how time and people’s shifting perspectives have affected them and the way they can change the world.
The story follows Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle), a recent ex-con who on the day of his release from prison finds out about his wife, Laura Moon’s (played by Emily Browning) death, along with her adultery with his best friend (who also died).
Out of prison and with nothing to his name, Shadow meets an old man named Wednesday (played by Ian McShane) who offers him a new lease on life in exchange for his services.
Even though he’s given every indication that he shouldn’t trust the man, Shadow reluctantly accepts and joins Wednesday in his journey to Wisconsin while also wondering what the old man wants with him.
Of course, things aren’t so simple, and eventually, Shadow realises that he has become caught up in a feud between the real gods of old and the New Gods, gods that have been created based on humanity’s beliefs in the current age, such as the internet, media and money.
With the two warring factions fighting over his place as well as some more shocking developments regarding his wife, Shadow’s life is quickly thrown into disarray.
Right from the get-go, it’s easy to see why a story like this would gather a following. Stories about an alternate, unknown, magical world abound and usually tend to be pretty popular, but American Gods go the extra mile.
Neil Geiman’s crafts a very believable world where gods and magical creatures can intermingle with humanity but also influenced by them, they might be gods, but it’s up to us if they exist or not. It also studies the idea of how believing in anything can shape and dictate the way we live and think.
This theme of belief also flows well with the idea of immigration, in a world where everyone believes and hopes for a better future by moving to a different country. It’s implied that gods migrated to America for the same reason everyone does, a chance at a better life.
Unfortunately, most of them only found that their relevance in the public’s eyes had only diminished and some gods even end up homeless or working demeaning jobs, showing that everyone is just another person in a world they’re not familiar with.
That idea is what helps the story stay relevant, especially nowadays where even more people are migrating out of their respective countries, and there are so many issues surrounding immigration.
Of course, this is still a story about gods, so there’s a lot to be said about how this show presents itself. American Gods is every bit what you’d expect of a prime-time TV series post-Game of Thrones: stories of violence, sex and betrayal are the norms as every god has their hidden desire.
All of this is presented in a way that’s not apt for younger viewers but also done in a very cinematic and… disturbingly charming way, with special effects you’d expect out of a movie.
It’s not just spectacle either. American Gods handle its characters with a lot of depth and nuance in ways that no other TV show even dares to, managing to make each of them charismatic and easy to get behind even as they do and act in a manner that is less than morally ideal.
Take that into account and add the fact that it’s been advertised like crazy (YouTube ads for it were all over) and it’s not strange to think that the show managed to get itself a second season only two episodes into its first one. So if you’ve been holding back on watching this then we can guarantee that it’ll be worth your time, all you need to do is believe.Tags: american gods neil geinman netflix novel tv series