AMERICAN GODS — The Best Thing to Hit the Small Screen Since 'Game of Thrones'
In her AMERICAN GODS review, Lisa Johnson Mandell says the stellar adaptation of the bestselling novel is true must see TV
Bold, bloody, bodacious and beautiful, American Gods from Starz is the series of the year, if not the decade. Based on stellar author Neil Gaiman‘s international bestseller of the same name, this is big event television — the kind of show you need to sit down, watch, absorb and savor–without checking social media every 20 seconds. Allow it to completely envelope you, and you will be pleasantly pondering for days.
In a nutshell, American Gods pits the fascinating and often brutal gods brought to the US by immigrants from the old world, against the new gods of today — technology, money, media, etc. We see Norse gods, African gods, Slavic gods, native American gods, fertility goddesses, even a Leprechaun, who are not doing so well these days, for lack worship and interest. They’re living dreary lives as taxi drivers, butchers, fortune tellers, etc. grasping at adoration wherever they can find it — and leads to one of the most arresting and disturbing scenes, that you’ve ever seen on television.
Now a charming huckster with a glass eye who goes by the name of Mr. Wednesday, played by Ian McShane (and I’ll leave you to figure out which god he personifies) is tired of playing second fiddle to the new gods, and he’s out to unite his old world colleagues against the new deities. He employs the mysterious Shadow Storm (Ricky Whittle, who looks like the lovechild of Vin Diesel and The Rock) to assist him. Storm, fresh out of prison, has nothing to lose and is learning the hard way about his curious companions, as are we.
At the beginning of the initial episodes, we see how the various gods came to America, and it’s riveting, but it ain’t pretty. There are ntriguing monologues throughout, and you’ll want to listen closely to every word. They are brilliant and revelatory. In the second episode, Gillian Anderson, as the goddess of Media, takes on the persona of Lucy Ricardo, waxing eloquent about mindless television consumption. You might want to rewind that and watch it twice, as you will with so many scenes in this series.
American Gods is so complexly layered that those just looking for salaciousness and surprise will be satiated, but those looking for something deeper will also be satisfied and intellectually stimulated. I sit stunned and pondering for several minutes after each episode. If you don’t get Starz, they’re offering a one month free trial to get you hooked, and I would suggest taking advantage of it.
While you’ve got it, you can also watch The White Princess, another stellar Starz series about Henry VII, Elizabeth York and the War of the Roses. Also fascinating and more straight forward.
But American Gods…American Gods is in a league of its own.