American Gods is now three episodes in on Starz and champagne shooting itself into TV history with weird poetry, snarky social commentary and a complete disregard for any arbitrary boundaries of propriety or blasphemy. And it does it with gentle panache and a kind, ass-whupping story-telling that is more than any of us deserve.
Based on the book of the same title by Neil Gaiman, the series is taking its time introducing us to an Urban Fantasy setting of modern worship and ancient mythological gods and beings all thrown together in the cultural blender of the United States and heading for a clash between old magic and belief and new. If you haven’t read the book and are wondering if you should watch the series first or read the book first, I’d put my money on watching first and enjoying the book afterwards as I am. It’s been on my To Read pile for a long time but newer releases keep pushing it back. Now I’ve set a definite time for it: At the end of Season 1. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t let you leave the blog without a book link so you can immediately quench your need for this book:
The series is produced by showrunners Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Dead Like Me) and Michael Green (who wrote for Logan!).
So should you watch American Gods, yay or nay? Definitely, yay! Watch it for the quirky Gaiman story telling. Watch it for the magnificent acting of Ian McShane and Pablo Shreiber or enjoy how Peter Stormare makes your whole face cringe as Czernobog or omg Gillian Anderson as… well, I’m not telling you that but holy hell! And, and, and.
This series already has a cast that is itself magical as mentioned above and Ricky Whittle was probably the one that came as the biggest surprise for me personally. Wow, that beautiful man can act more with his face alone than drunken beach party full of Oscar winners can manage with their whole careers. Alright. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also very, very handsome.
What’s the plot about? Old mythological gods in conflict with modern gods! In one corner we have Odin, Anansi, Bilquis, f*cking Efreet and leprechauns versus in the opposite corner information technology, television, smart drugs. What we worship today versus what our ancestors worshiped in the dark before gas lamps.
And it’s a story about getting the team together to face a common foe. About a con man getting his players in motion so whatever else happens he comes out on top. And about a guy who just got out of jail to find the life he thought was waiting for him smashed to pieces and the world replaced with one full of madness and magic.
Watch it for the music.
Watch it for the cinematography.
Watch it for being the weirdest show currently broadcast. Weirder than Legion, more poetic than Luke Cage, more magical than Game of Thrones, dopey-er than Stranger Things, visually as evocative as Hannibal and quirkier than 6 Feet Under. And truthfully it is none of the above. It is sex and love and magic and religion and people.
It is the definitions of real and fantasy, of what is divine of what is faith and belief and it paints it in palets of skin colors and backgrounds and preferences much wider than what we are usually offered, and it does it without giving pause or credence to any gasps from audience complacent in the mirrored stories delivered off the assembly lines that affirm the narrative that the world consists of mostly straight white people.
Watch it for the love of humanity in all its frail, colorful, stupid monkey gloriousness.
Watch it because it deals with those ideas above without making this atheist weep at the uncaring darkness over the follies of mankind.
You might even watch it because there are a lotta naked people getting sexy in this series. Just don’t expect it to be only boy meets girl, alright?
So where can you watch this show? Starz is a premium cable channel that you can add to your cable subscription. But who has one of those anymore? Thankfully it would appear that Starz has walked full stride into the next age of television and is offering in the US a subscription based streaming service for cord cutters (i.e. smart people). It’s easier still outside of the US. Amazon Prime is carrying American Gods for (parts of) the rest of the world.
The Starz’s standalone subscription is $8.99 per month after a seven-day trial. Sign up through their website or the Starz App. With their live streaming, you can tune into American Gods as soon as an episode airs.