A whole episode about Laura Moon! Whether you read the book or not, you probably have conflicting feelings about Laura. She’s the love of Shadow’s life, but she is no saint, which this episode reaffirms.
It’s a double-post for American Gods! Episode 2’s Coming to America story introduced Anansi in a manner that doesn’t just strike a chord for black America, it’s the start of a symphony. It was raw, powerful, and true. The rest of the episode moved rather slowly, while Episode 3 had a bit more plot advancement and brought us deeper into the backstage world of the Gods.
With its official premiere on Starz last night, it’s time to review the first episode of this much-anticipated series. For fans of the book and new worshippers at the boob tube, “The Bone Orchard” does NOT disappoint. I’ll be analyzing as someone who knew the book first, so some compare/contrast is inevitable. But I welcome comments from those who are experiencing this world through the show first.
Episode spoilers are a given. Best not to read if you haven’t watched!
April 30th is almost here – the premiere of American Gods on Starz. I’ve been following the progress of the American Gods TV series since the first announcements about it. When I learned Bryan Fuller was attached to the project, I was excited, but cautiously concerned. Fuller’s NBC series Hannibal felt the ire of fans for poor treatment of its female characters. I feared that complex ladies like Laura Moon, Sam Crow, and Bilquis would be slotted into shallow stereotypes.
Instead, it looks like American Gods has taken the exact opposite road!
“Oh my god, guys, there’s this show that we’re doing and the women are allowed to be actual human beings, can you believe it?” – Emily Browning
This article is a collaborative effort between Meg R. and Brianna. Meg provided the heavy insight to Mr. Fuller’s works, while Brianna weighed in as a reader of American Gods.
In the sphere of modern American television, few male television writers have achieved what Bryan Fuller has in his treatment of female characters. He is best known for the creation of four shows: Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and most recently, Hannibal. The protagonists of the first two series are women, and two-thirds of Pushing Daisies’ regular cast are female. The women in all four shows are different from each other while never falling into common stereotypes or tropes.
At times, PD‘s Chuck resembles the typical “protagonist’s girlfriend,” but maintains and asserts a great deal of agency in addition to befriending Olive, her rival for her boyfriend’s affections. Chuck’s aunts, Lily and Vivian, avoid the stereotype of crotchety old women defined by loneliness through their friendship with Olive, who visits them and cheers them up in a way that never feels condescending. Throughout the series, none of the women are ever dependent upon men for their happiness. Bonus: Chuck and Olive enjoy wearing revealing clothing, but their physical appearance is never commented upon by the men in the story, never mind in a degrading way. On Hannibal, Fuller was restricted by his source material in certain ways, yet still managed to create four interesting and compelling female characters in a male-driven story. He gender-bended the canon characters Alan(a) Bloom and Freddy Lounds, expanded the role of Beverly Katz, and made a character of his own creation, Abigail Hobbs, hugely important to the first season’s arc.
However, Fuller’s track record is far from perfect. Wonderfalls’ Heidi never developed beyond being a “slutty bitch,” and in the second season of Hannibal, Alana and Bedelia (another of Fuller’s creations) were wildly underused while Beverly was killed off four episodes in. With all this in mind, we at DG hope Mr. Fuller doesn’t fall prey to abusing or neglecting the women of American Gods. Previously HBO was attached to the series and developing a pilot script. However, as Gaiman related on his tumblr, the network “wanted more and more spelled out and explained for the people who weren’t following, and everything possible put into the first script”. As anyone who read the book would surely agree, such a feat is 1) pretty much impossible and 2) lazy writing. If you get too hung up explaining everything right out the gate, you lose the audience. So Gaiman was “relieved” when the HBO development stopped and has enjoyed speaking with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green about the project. He believes that they and Starz “seem to get it”.
SPOILERS BENEATH THE CUT. Continue reading American Goddesses: Handle with Caution, Mr. Fuller!
As quite possibly one of the biggest Gaimain fangirls, I’ve been closely following the journey of American Gods from novel to miniseries to full television show. Neil Gaiman announced on his blog earlier today that HBO has dropped the American Gods tv show, and Freemantle has picked it up. This means that Tom Hanks is no longer attached to the production. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, but what I am sure about is that we all need to reset our expectations again.
Last June I got to see Mr. Gaiman speak at a book expo, and during Q&A, one of the questions he got was how the American Gods pilot was going. In response, he said he was very excited about writing it and that he had added so much new material that he always wanted to put in the book, and he couldn’t wait to keep adding to the mythology. He sent in the finished pilot. The response he got was, “Can you make this closer to what happens in the book?”
If HBO had done the novel adaptation, it would have been amazingly true to the book we all read and loved. With Tom Hanks in charge, I’m sure it would have been stunning. That being said, as a fan of not just the book, but the world building and the mythology Gaiman created, I am very eager to see if this new production team gives him the freedom so that we can all expand our American Gods knowledge. He seems to think his novel is in good hands, and I’m willing to trust him and see where this goes. I’d love for this book to get more exposure again.
Time for a reread….? Yeah, probably.