The news it out: After bouncing around networks and toiling in development, Neil Gaiman’s supernatural novel American Gods is officially a go at Starz.
With Bryan Fuller, Michael Green and Gaiman on board the production, geeks everywhere can collectively sigh in relief that the sublime novel is in great hands. There are more than a few reasons to get excited for what could very well be television’s next great fantasy series—and a possible redefining move for Starz. Here’s why you should considering adding American Gods to the top of your Kindle list before it tops your DVR:
You’ve never seen anything like it.
Neil Gaiman’s novel imagines a world where modern-day America has created (perhaps involuntarily) its own set of mythological gods, just as every other culture has throughout history. The hitch is that the new gods are wrenching control from the old gods, who live among us and whose powers are diminishing over time as waning prayers are forcing them to become relics of the past. If that mythic intrigue doesn’t already fascinate, the story follows an ex-convict named Shadow who finds himself caught between the old gods and the new, and as he travels America, his encounters with the divine and mundane characters of the mortal and immortal plane are endlessly vivid and thought-provoking. It’s a story that’s epic in scale but also powerfully intimate—a combination that begs for prestige television.
You can beat the book and not get Game of Thrones-ed.
Here’s your chance to not let the Game of Thrones phenomenon happen again—you know, that thing where you didn’t read the book but everyone else did and you stand to be spoiled simply by someone uttering the phrase “Well, in the books…” With American Gods, you can seize the opportunity to push ahead of the curve and breeze through the hefty novel by the time they cast Shadow. (Similarly, there’s only one book to contend with, which means that there’s a world ripe for exploration beyond the baseline laid out in Gaiman’s text.)
The cast is probably going to be diverse and incredible.
Starz has a real opportunity here to cast an ensemble of truly multicultural actors, reflective of the old gods and their storied heritages. Key cast members are Egyptian, Russian, Irish, Norse, Indian, Algonquian, and African—and in fact, Fuller has already spoken out about his plans for reflecting truth in casting. In an interview with Denofgeek.com, Fuller said, “We’re imagining two white roles and everybody else is non-white, so my goal, Michael’s goal, certainly Neil’s goal has been to have a very ethnically diverse cast. That’s important to all of us… we have to be moving forward with a representation that is accurate to the world. There’s no excuse with American Gods.”
Let’s not make light mention of the guy who’s seeing all this through. Bryan Fuller is currently represented on TV with the gorgeously gory Hannibal—arguably one of television’s most beautiful shows—and his history of bringing vivid imagery to small-screen life is well-reflected in shows like Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me (and I’ll even mention the tragically undeveloped Mockingbird Lane). Fuller is the perfect fit for the poetically illustrated set pieces that Gaiman describes in the text—grand mountaintops and frozen lakes and gloomy funeral homes and idyllic villages. Even if the show should fail, you can bet that Fuller will bring out the bold colors that readers have imagined in their heads for almost 15 years.