Directors: David Slade, Craig Zobel, Vincenzo Natali, Adam Kane & Floria Sigismondi
Starring: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane & Crispin Glover
Synopsis: A recently released ex-convict named Shadow meets a mysterious man who calls himself “Wednesday” and who knows more than he first seems to about Shadow’s life and past.
Rating: 18 Duration: 8 x 60 minute episodes Release date: 31 July (UK)
Weird is definitely the new black. Shows like Legion, Wayward Pines and the new series of Twin Peaks have cemented the growing fascination with TV that is a little bit out there and more left-field than your average prime-time fare. With that, American Gods is the latest show to offer non-linear storytelling and stunning visuals and results in a bold and divisive televised device.
There are many things that can be said about American Gods and the first thing to strike you is the arresting visuals that feel like you’ve been dipped head first into a lava lamp. Colours blend and break from the very first moments, and show-runner Bryan Fuller exudes confidence in the extraordinary way he paints his vision of America. With the help from the likes of David Slade and Adam Kane to name but two, American Gods is a visual tour de force showcasing the great and the abominable of American culture. Once you have given American Gods a chance, and at times it will test your patience, the parallels between the old and the new world become clear. While the shows grander schemes are bubbling under the surface, it holds back some of it cards for a later reveal.
Pain strikes through the performance of Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, a convict released from his prison sentence a few days earlier than planned as news reaches him that his wife has died in a car accident. What he doesn’t yet realise is that she died sucking his best friends cock who also died in the accident. Upon his release he bumps into Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) a man who seems out to con everyone, but wants to employ Shadow as his personal bodyguard, something Shadow initially rejects but soon finds that not many people want to employ an ex-convict. Reluctantly accepting his offer of work, Shadow along with Mr. Wednesday embarks on a journey across America to find the Old Gods that the nation once embraced and who are now being replaced by a new faction bestowed in media and money as Wednesday seeks out a war before it’s too late.
The difference between the old and the new is painted vividly with money, social media and the constant use of multiple screens taking precedence over more established tropes like religion and family. Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday builds a flamboyant world that gets more disturbing and visceral the further the two of them delve into America’s varied landscape. Shadow, meanwhile guides the audience through the madness as his confusion is ours and his desire for answers is also shared by the audience. In one episode a confrontation takes place between Shadow and Wednesday and Shadow demands to be given “a fucking clue.” Wednesday retorts “no clues”, because that wasn’t part of the deal; no questions, no clues, just follow me and do as I say and you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
The same message is relayed to the audience, and one hopes that the ostentatious showing off and puffing of the shoulders pays off in some form of muscular finale. While there are answers to the ongoing madness that permeates throughout the show, there is also a frustration that threatens to damage the good work done by Fuller and the shows various directors. It comes largely from the shows desire to throw disorder our way. Like many shows at the moment, unusual seems to be the genre du jour. Some moments pass by without a future result and others do pay off, but take time to bear fruit. It begs the question of whether it is being used as a legitimate storytelling device or is it just a modern tool to give credit to your show?
Negatives aside, American Gods is a show that must be applauded. Quite simply, no other TV show is like this. From its wonderful opening credits to the shows outstanding collection of music, to its masterful visuals and an absolute stellar performance from McShane. No show is as daring as this, and the sheer gusto of adapting Neil Gaiman’s novel for the small screen marks American Gods out as a highly capable show, even if it does make you want to kick your TV in frustration at times.
- San Diego Comic-Con Panel footage
- Ian McShane interview
- Ricky Whittle & Emily Browning interview
- American Gods Origins with Neil Gaiman
- Bruce Langley interview
- Ian McShane & Ricky Whittle interview
- Book Vs Show
- New Gods
- Old Gods
- What is American Gods