All that time you spend on the Internet is actually productive. Well, maybe not for you, but certainly for the god who feeds off it.
The digital-dieting deity Technical Boy (played by Bruce Langley) and screen-hungry Media (Gillian Anderson) are two of the powerful new gods (of computers and television, respectively) whom viewers will finally meet in the flesh, 15 years after they were first introduced in Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel, in Starz’s 2017 TV adaptation of American Gods.
In Gaiman’s tale — now in the hands of showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green — America has created its own set of gods reflecting society’s growing obsession with things like computers and celebrities. As such, these new gods are seeking humanity’s worship, at the cost of the old ancient gods who immigrated to the country centuries ago but whose believers are quickly dying out.
As in the novel, Technical Boy and Media are two of the most visible antagonists who pop up along the journey of old god Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and his hired bodyguard, Shadow (Ricky Whittle), as they cross the country attempting to rally the ancient gods together to fight back. But the new deities may not be the hard-and-fast villains you might remember from Gaiman’s text — and that might just be the accidental by-product of making a character human (physically speaking) and bringing them into the modern world.
“I think it’s less about empathy [with these characters] as it is about what they believe, in terms of how we should behave as human beings, and with that, they have some really interesting, valid points,” says Fuller. “Those points are counter to what the old gods believe, but are no less valid.”
Certainly, one of the more intriguing points about Gaiman’s 2001 novel being adapted into a 2017 TV series is how his prescient hypotheses on the rise of media and technology now propose something far less disruptive and far more realistic. In other words, it’ll be quite hard to disagree with the points raised by people who represent the very medium the audience is using (unless, Gods forbid, viewers opt for streaming).
As is the boon of a book’s evolution into a TV series, audiences will now get to explore the origin stories of characters like Technical Boy, whose ‘birth’ — assumedly sometime around the proliferation of the Commodore 64 — may shed light on new layers to the rising legend. “We’re interested, over time, in seeing how all of our gods came to be in their current place in the current time,” says Green. “The more you see where people come from, you can’t help but have sympathy for what they’ve become.” (“Tell that to Anakin Skywalker,” Fuller quips in response.)
The Technical Boy serves alongside Media (who takes the form of Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and others) as one of the two de facto figureheads for the new gods, but both icons will still operate under the frightening umbrella of a much scarier individual who threatens both sides of this battle. “Technical Boy comes off as the immediate antagonist to Shadow and Mr. Wednesday, but we learn that he reports to others as well,” says Green. “Even technology has something to fear.” Beyond obsolescence, of course.