Starz’s American Gods Must Have These Five Neil Gaiman Elements

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American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30, and we couldn’t be more excited. Based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, one of our favorite authors, American Gods became an almost instant classic when it was released in 2001. Now, 16 years later, we’re finally seeing a version hit the small screen. The trailer that was released looks amazing:

Part road trip adventure, part epic con, and part modern mythology, American Gods is one of those rare stories that defies convention. It blends Gaiman’s gift for magical realism with mythologies from all over the world, playing with our concepts of reality, technology and how Gods are created in the first place.

american gods neil gaimanShadow Moon (played by The 100 alum Ricky Whittle) is released from prison early after his wife (Emily Browning) is killed in a car accident. He then meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), a con man who’s on a very specific mission – to travel around America, rounding up old friends for a showdown with the “New Gods.” It turns out Mr. Wednesday is actually a god himself, and Shadow quickly learns that gods and other mythical creatures have been walking among us for years. But Gods can only exist when they’re believed in, and these immigrant deities are becoming less and less powerful as technology takes over. Now New Gods are cropping up – gods of media, cellphones, the internet – creating a rivalry that seems destined to end in an epic battle led by Wednesday. Of course things don’t always work out as planned, and American Gods delivers enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat for days.

There are plenty of narrative thrills, visual feasts and intriguing characters to more than fill the new Starz show. But as longtime fans of the novel, we have some very specific ideas on what should be in the new adaptation.

Here are five things we hope to see in American Gods:

Chemistry Between Con Men

Part of the fun of American Gods is the dynamic between Shadow and Wednesday as they road trip across America. Wednesday is a classic con man who always has a trick or two (or ten) up his sleeve. Shadow more often plays the role of the every-man who helps lead us through this bizarre, mythology-filled landscape. But he’s a criminal too, and he and Shadow play off each other extremely well. We more than trust that Ian McShane will embody the magic of Wednesday, and we’re hoping that the chemistry between him and Shadow is just as strong on screen.


Gods Come to Life

A big reason for the success of American Gods is that it’s just fun in general. Who doesn’t want to imagine gods living among us, running businesses or setting up in creepy towns? They’re vindictive and tricky, and, often, incredibly human in their reactions. We can’t wait to see how these characters come alive on the show.

Based on the newly released posters for the show, Starz is definitely playing up the technology angle. And we couldn’t be happier. Because while it’s fun to see how old and ancient gods have adapted to modern times (like Bilquis, or the Queen of Sheba working as a prostitute), it’s even more fun to see how technology creates New Gods around celebrity, drug culture and more. Regardless, New or Old, we’re excited to see some gods actually appearing on our screen.

A Kickass Shadow Moon

There’s a lot that can go wrong with Shadow’s character: he’s a taciturn gentleman who doesn’t emote much in general. But he’s also our touchstone in this weird, new world, and his confusion becomes ours as we try and navigate our way around all these complicated gods. So Shadow needs to be several things at once – relatable and stoic, likable and still realistic. As big fans of The 100, we know that Whittle can play taciturn pretty well (his character, Lincoln, was definitely not the biggest talker on that show). But will that translate over into American Gods? We have our fingers crossed.

Americana at it’s Best

In some ways, American Gods is English-born Gaiman’s love letter to the American landscape. Well, maybe not a love letter exactly (there’s not too much love going around), but a clear and definite nod. Based on the trailer alone, we already know that the cinematography in this show is going to be insane. But we’re hoping we get to see some of those classic Americana sights as well – rundown motels, vast and open fields, and quaint towns where things seem a little too good to be true.

The Real World Implications

Even though American Gods was written almost 20 years ago, it feels more relevant than ever in our current political and social landscape. It’s easy to imagine even more New Gods cropping up in our increasingly isolated technological world (the god of smart phones, perhaps?). And the messages that underlie the novel about immigration, the discontent of rural America, and our tenuous melting pot seems to perfectly tap into the current political issues we face as a nation. It’s a great opportunity for Starz to update Gaiman’s story, while still staying true to the narrative that has made it a modern classic.

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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