American Gods (TV series)
|Based on||American Gods|
by Neil Gaiman
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||11 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||52–63 minutes|
|Original release||April 30, 2017 –|
American Gods is an American fantasy drama television series based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name and developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for the premium cable network Starz. Produced by Fremantle USA and distributed by Lionsgate Television, the first season premiered on April 30, 2017. Fuller and Green served as the showrunners for the first season, and were replaced by Jesse Alexander for the second season. Gaiman serves as an executive producer along with Fuller, Green, Craig Cegielski, Stefanie Berk, David Slade, and Adam Kane. Charles Eglee is set to serve as showrunner for the third season.
Ricky Whittle plays the series' lead Shadow Moon, who meets a strange man named Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) after being released from prison, and soon becomes embroiled in a large-scale conflict between the Old Gods and the New Gods, who grow stronger each day. In May 2017, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on March 10, 2019. The following week, Starz renewed American Gods for a third season.
The series received praise for its visual style and acting, and two nominations at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Special Visual Effects, but did not win in either category. It also received three nominations at the 8th Critics' Choice Television Awards, including Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series for McShane and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Gillian Anderson.
Only days before his scheduled release from prison, Shadow Moon is told his wife has been killed in a car accident, and he is released early to attend the funeral. A series of events delays his trip home, during which time he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday repeatedly offers Shadow a job, which he refuses until Wednesday reveals that the job waiting for him at home no longer exists. Shadow accepts the offer to become Wednesday's driver/assistant/bodyguard.
Shadow finds himself in a hidden world where magic is real, and where the Old Gods fear irrelevance amid the growing power of the New Gods, including 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 they have lost, leaving Shadow struggling to accept this new world and his place in it.
Cast and characters
- Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, a former convict who becomes Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard.
- Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday, a con artist and the god Odin.
- Emily Browning as Laura Moon, Shadow Moon's wife and a revenant. Browning also portrays Essie MacGowan, the Irish woman whose belief in leprechauns changes the course of her life.
- Crispin Glover as Mr. World, the New God of globalization and the leader of the New Gods.
- Bruce Langley as the Technical Boy, the New God of technology.
- Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, a goddess of love, identified with the Queen of Sheba.
- Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney, a leprechaun in the employ of Mr. Wednesday who has trouble coming to terms with his lost charm.
- Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy (recurring season 1; main season 2), the Ghanaian trickster god Anansi. He works as a tailor.
- Mousa Kraish as the Jinn (recurring season 1; main season 2), a mythic being of fire who, fearing for his safety, considers fleeing the United States.
- Omid Abtahi as Salim (recurring season 1; main season 2), a foreigner who is "one half of a pair of star-crossed lovers". He has a sexual encounter with the Jinn, disguised then as a cab driver.
- Demore Barnes as Mr. Ibis (recurring season 1; main season 2), the keeper of stories past and present, the Egyptian god Thoth.
- Gillian Anderson as the New Goddess Media (season 1), the public face and "mouthpiece" of the New Gods. She appears in the form of famous personalities, including Lucy Ricardo, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie and Judy Garland. After Anderson's departure from the series, for the second season the role was redefined and renamed as New Media, played by South Korean actress Kahyun Kim (see below).
- Jonathan Tucker as Low Key Lyesmith, a friend of Shadow from prison.
- Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya, "the Evening Star", the eldest of three sisters who watch the stars to guard against forgotten horrors.
- Martha Kelly as Zorya Utrennyaya, "the Morning Star", the middle silent sister of the Zorya.
- Erika Kaar as Zorya Polunochnaya, "the Midnight Star", the youngest of the Zorya sisters who sleeps during the day and only appears late at night. She guides Shadow and sets him on his path.
- Peter Stormare as Czernobog, Slavic god of darkness, death and evil who suspects Mr. Wednesday's motives and is reluctant to lend his aid.
- Chris Obi as Mr. Jacquel, the Egyptian God of the dead, Anubis.
- Dane Cook as Robbie, Shadow's best friend.
- Betty Gilpin as Audrey, Robbie's wife and Laura's best friend.
- Kristin Chenoweth as Easter, Germanic goddess of the dawn.
- Corbin Bernsen as Vulcan, who has renewed himself by binding himself to guns and those who worship them.
- Jeremy Davies as Jesus Prime, one of many versions to appear at the home of Easter.
- Conphidance as Okoye, a scarred slave who leads a revolt.
- Beth Grant as Jack, the owner of the bar where Shadow meets Mr. Wednesday.
- Kahyun Kim as the New Goddess New Media (season 2), who is described as, "the goddess of global content and in this age, a cyberspace chameleon, who is also a master of manipulation".
- Sakina Jaffrey as Mama-Ji (season 2), a waitress at the Motel America and the Hindu goddess of death and liberation, Kali. With her necklace of skulls, acerbic wit and free spirit, she is a match for any mighty god or man.
- Dean Winters as Mr. Town (season 2), a brutal and efficient agent tasked by the New Gods to find out what Shadow knows about Mr. Wednesday's plan.
- Devery Jacobs as Sam Black Crow (season 2), a fierce and confident hitch hiking college student, who sells chainsaw art by the roadside for extra money. She is spiritually cynical for someone who claims to believe in so much.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||April 30, 2017||June 18, 2017|
|2||8||March 10, 2019||April 28, 2019|
Season 1 (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Teleplay by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"The Bone Orchard"||David Slade||Bryan Fuller & Michael Green||April 30, 2017||0.975|
|2||2||"The Secret of Spoons"||David Slade||Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||May 7, 2017||0.710|
|3||3||"Head Full of Snow"||David Slade||Bryan Fuller & Michael Green||May 14, 2017||0.716|
|4||4||"Git Gone"||Craig Zobel||Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||May 21, 2017||0.631|
|5||5||"Lemon Scented You"||Vincenzo Natali||David Graziano||May 28, 2017||0.666|
|6||6||"A Murder of Gods"||Adam Kane||Seamus Kevin Fahey and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||June 4, 2017||0.607|
|7||7||"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"||Adam Kane||Maria Melnik||June 11, 2017||0.629|
|8||8||"Come to Jesus"||Floria Sigismondi||Bekah Brunstetter and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||June 18, 2017||0.774|
Season 2 (2019)
|Title||Directed by ||Teleplay by ||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|9||1||"House on the Rock"||Christopher J. Byrne||Jesse Alexander & Neil Gaiman||March 10, 2019||0.520|
|10||2||"The Beguiling Man"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Tyler Dinucci & Andres Fischer-Centeno||March 17, 2019||0.348|
|11||3||"Muninn"||Deborah Chow||Heather Bellson||March 24, 2019||TBD|
|12||4||"The Greatest Story Ever Told"||Stacie Passon||Peter Calloway & Aditi Brennan Kapil||March 31, 2019||TBD|
|13||5||"The Ways of the Dead"||Salli Richardson-Whitfield||Rodney Barnes & Andres Fischer-Centeno||April 7, 2019||TBD|
|14||6||"Donar the Great"||Rachel Talalay||Adria Lang||April 14, 2019||TBD|
|15||7||"Treasure of the Sun"||Paco Cabezas||Heather Bellson||April 21, 2019||TBD|
|16||8||"Moon Shadow"||Christopher J. Byrne||Aditi Brennan Kapil||April 28, 2019||TBD|
In 2011, American Gods author Neil Gaiman stated at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that HBO had expressed an interest in adapting the novel into a television series. In March 2013, Gaiman spoke of the project's progress at the Cambridge International Student Film Festival, and confirmed that the prospective series' opening episode would "contain new elements and details" while still remaining "a lot like the opening chapters of the book". He also commented that the book would only make up the first two seasons of the show and that he was still working on the pilot script, as his first script was not close enough to his book for HBO's satisfaction. In November 2013, Gaiman announced on Reddit that the TV series was still in the works but no longer at HBO. In 2014, HBO's president of programming Michael Lombardo revealed that the project had been abandoned because they could not get the script right: "We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don't happen".
In February 2014, Fremantle Media acquired the rights to adapt the novel as a fantasy drama series. In July 2014, it was announced that Starz would be developing the series with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Fuller stated that the series would be "[following] the events of the books but expanding those events, and expanding the point of view to go above and beyond Shadow and Wednesday". Permission has been given for the series to incorporate elements from the book's companion, Anansi Boys. Fuller also confirmed that Gaiman is "very involved" with the production and expressed his hope that Gaiman would write an episode himself.
On June 16, 2015, Starz officially announced that it had greenlit the series. During an interview with Neil Gaiman on June 24, 2016, he discussed plans for future seasons of the show beyond the first, should it be continued, and noting that the first season only covers the first third of the novel. Gaiman stated in an interview in October 2018 that the plan was to make five seasons of the series.
On May 10, 2017, the series was renewed for a second season. On November 29, 2017, it was announced that Fuller and Green were departing the show and were to be replaced as showrunners for season two after having completed writing roughly half of the season's scripts. On February 2, 2018, Jesse Alexander was announced as co-showrunner for the second season alongside Gaiman, however Alexander was removed in September 2018. With no showrunner, producing director Chris Byrne and line producer Lisa Kussner were left in charge. Production began on the second season in April 2018, and with the season premiering on March 10, 2019.
Fuller stated that he wanted the Old Gods to be portrayed as gritty and rustic to "demonstrate the well-worn aspects of their religion and the consequences of going without faith for so long", while the New Gods are portrayed as slick and updated with their technology to illuminate "how valuable and pertinent they are, in their own religions."
On January 28, 2016, Ricky Whittle was cast as the lead character, Shadow Moon. On March 2, 2016, it was announced that Ian McShane had been cast as Mr. Wednesday. It was later announced on March 17, 2016, that Emily Browning would play Laura Moon, Shadow's wife. On March 23, 2016, it was announced that Sean Harris, Yetide Badaki and Bruce Langley would play the respective roles of Mad Sweeney, Bilquis and Technical Boy. On April 14, 2016, Jonathan Tucker and Crispin Glover were cast as Low Key Lyesmith and Mr. World. On May 6, 2016, it was announced that Sean Harris had departed the series due to personal reasons and the role of Mad Sweeney was being recast. On May 11, 2016, it was announced that Pablo Schreiber would take over the role of Mad Sweeney. In June 2016, it was announced that Gillian Anderson would portray Media.
American Gods premieres on Sunday each week in the U.S. on the Starz app, before airing the same day on Starz at 9:00 pm Eastern. Each episode becomes available internationally on Amazon Video the day after the U.S. broadcast.
The first season of American Gods has received largely positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% rating with an average score of 8.12 out of 10 based on 83 reviews with the consensus stating: "American Gods opens with a series of wildly ambitious gambits – and rewards viewers' faith with a promising first season whose visual riches are matched by its narrative impact." On Metacritic, it has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The second season has received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 57% rating with an average score of 5.76 out of 10 based on 19 reviews with the consensus stating: "American Gods retains its bombastic style but loses its divine inspiration in a derivative second season that, after a change in show-runners and even some crucial cast members, feels like a false idol." On Metacritic, it has a score of 45 out of 100 based on 7 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
|2017||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Main Title Design||Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Devin Maurer and Jeff Han||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Kevin Tod Haug, David Stump, Jeremy Ball, Bernice Charlotte Howes, Jessica Smith, Josh Carlton, Pierre Buffin, James Cooper and Aymeric Perceval (for "The Bone Orchard")||Nominated|||
|Black Reel Awards||Outstanding Guest Performer: Drama Series||Orlando Jones||Nominated|||
|2018||Critics' Choice Awards||Best Drama Series||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Drama Series||Ian McShane||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Gillian Anderson||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Genre||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Best Actor on Television||Ricky Whittle||Nominated|
|Best DVD or Blu-ray Television Release||American Gods: Season One||Won|
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