Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Highly Anticipated 'American Gods' Series Debuts April 30

We have been excited about Neil Gaiman's amazing novel, American Gods, coming to the small screen in serial form (how could a movie ever explore this world thoroughly enough), and the tailer certainly has a lot of people excited.

We would be counting down the days ourselves, if it weren't for the #bucketsofblood, because, wow. There are many - gratuitously many - buckets! So take that as a heads-up for watching the trailer, by the way. Nevertheless, there will be lots of mythic and folkloric content for those willing to dive in, albeit being wrapped up very contemporary clothes and language, along with heavy doses of 'weird' (that is, in fact, one of the marketing tools for the show: 'expect 'weird sh*t!').

Here's the show's premise:
American Gods, the show follows Shadow Moon, who is thrown into a war between the gods of the old world versus the new. 
When Shadow Moon is released from prison, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday and a storm begins to brew. Little does Shadow know, this storm will change the course of his entire life. Left adrift by the recent, tragic death of his wife, and suddenly hired as Mr. Wednesday’s bodyguard, Shadow finds himself in the center of a world that he struggles to understand. It’s a hidden world where magic is real, where the Old Gods fear both irrelevance and the growing power of the New Gods, like Technology and Media. Mr. Wednesday seeks to build a coalition of Old Gods to defend their existence in this new America, and reclaim some of the influence that they’ve lost. As Shadow travels across the country with Mr. Wednesday, he struggles to accept this new reality, and his place in it.
Here's the trailer (viewer discretion advised):

That should be no surprise to people familiar with the book and most people, including Gaiman himself, are super-excited. Along with perhaps turning down the 'red' on our screens a tad as we decide to put up with the #bucketsofblood for the inevitable good stuff, we will be watching closely for the public response to the series.

This featurette, including an appearance with Neil Gaiman, who Executive Produces the show, makes the series look very intriguing. If you're not up for the trailer, this is a good overview for you (no #bucketsofblood in this one):

One excellent thing to look forward to, is that Gaiman, who always intended to write more of the world than he did for his novel, is seriously looking at creating new stories specifically for the series as well, and he has a specific angle in mind - one we're keen to see explored.
From io9:
There’s plenty of material for more stories set in the world of American Gods. Both the book and the show contain a main, present-day story, but are also peppered with “Coming to America” shorts that explore how gods from other countries immigrated to the United States along with people. At the panel for the show at San Diego Comic-Con last year, Gaiman mentioned that he’d originally intended to do a vignette about Japanese internment during World War II in American Gods. 
“It wasn’t even that it got cut,” explained Gaiman about the story. “It just never got written because I was already at 200,000 words and I was being told by my publisher that the novel couldn’t be more than 150,000 words. So now I was already cutting and the internment story was one I was looking forward to.”The show might act as an impetus for Gaiman writing not only that story, but other ones he has in his mind. 
..The show’s tackling of (Essie Tregowan's) story—which expanded it to fill much of an episode,—has inspired Gaiman to write more stories in the American Gods universe and give them to the show to reinterpret for the small screen. “So Bryan is now going we could do more of these big ones,” continued Gaiman. “And I went, well I wanted to do the internment camp one and that would have been a big story. That would have been a 20-30 page short story. And possibly a little longer, it would have been a novelette in my head. And it would have been a kitsune story and I’m happy to write that story now and I’m happy for Bryan to adapt it.”
Gaiman has a lot to say on 'America's hypocritical relationship with immigrants and diversity' and as such, the series is not only highly anticipated, but suddenly become more relevant in this social climate, than it ever has since being published. The fact that it looks like Gaiman will get to focus on this theme is one of the big draws of the show for us, making it very likely to be put on our list of Recommended Resistance Reads and Viewings. #RRR
America has a very contradictory relationship with immigration. The stories we like to tell are about people coming here with nothing but ambition and becoming important or rich. But America is also obsessed with talking about whether or not immigrants have assimilated, and saying that some groups can’t, so they shouldn’t be allowed in. It’s a specific American truth that Gaiman captured in the book and that the show has run with. 
“You have come from an old country, now stop being that thing,” is how Gaiman summed it up. “I love the fact that Canada has the concept of the mosaic. You have come to Canada from your country, we are a mosaic made up of lots of different countries... The American idea seems much more...melting pot. Become one. We are all one, we are like this. No, we’re not! No one is.”
It’s not being American that Gaiman thinks let him write the book.  
... Gaiman’s outsider perspective mirrors how genre fiction has always managed to present volatile ideas in palatable ways. “That’s what it’s for,” said Gaiman. “It’s the distorting mirror, it’s showing you something at 45 degrees, it’s showing you something that you are familiar with from an angle you have never seen it from, to make you see it for the first time.” 
We couldn't agree with this more.

The network showing the series, Starz, is a 'prime paid' network so a lot of folks aren't going to have the opportunity to jump in at the beginning for the journey, but that won't stop an internet buzz from happening, and we expect the big pop culture websites to be all over the premiere and have lots of interesting things to say.

We love how the latest interview Gaiman has given discussing American Gods finishes:
Even with the distance of talking about gods and supernatural occurrences, people connect with the stories in American Gods in very personal ways. It resonates even more now, somehow. Gaiman knows why.

“Because we’re human and we tell stories and telling our stories and telling stories we were told in our childhood is one of the most important and beautiful things we can do. We have stories, now, that are older than any city. Some of them are older than the countries they are now told in. We can trace the age of stories sometimes by landmarks, by volcanoes, by things mentioned in them. And stories last. And stories matter. And sometimes, at my maddest, I like to think that stories are merely the vehicle that stories use to propagate themselves to make sure they continue.
What a wonderful (and slightly intimidating) way of putting it! Fairy tales are unique as a 'genre' precisely because they behave specifically like living things in the way they spread and adapt, and are one of the biggest reasons they interest us. Myths aren't quite the same but they can behave similarly, and it makes sense that Gaiman's fairy tale influence in telling and retelling myths brings out this quality.
Can you tell we love this creature?
Summary: we're looking forward to seeing what happens with American Gods, both as a series and with regard to social impact. Here's the opening title sequence to give you a taste (no #bucketsofblood in this one, we promise).

1 comment:

  1. I never read American Gods. I only read its companion book Anansi Boys.