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”.
‘Twas a day of much rejoicing among fans of the late (but great) Pushing Daisies, which may soon be revived in the form of a Broadway musical, according to series creator Bryan Fuller! For the uninitiated, Pushing Daisies was a television series which premiered in 2007 on ABC to wide critical acclaim and drew an average audience of nine million viewers per week. Unfortunately, when the WGA strike of ’07 hit, ABC decide to cut the show’s first season short. During the ensuing eight month hiatus, most of Daisies‘ audience forgot about it, prompting ABC to cancel the show after airing only twenty-two episodes total (nine in its first season and thirteen in its second). Many campaigns led by both fans and Fuller have attempted to bring the series back as a film or comic book, but all have failed. Until now!