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Television Review

American Gods Season One Review – A psychedelic, exciting pilgrimage that beats Route 66

Just in time for the acclaimed series' second season, Lottie Maguire takes a retrospective look at American Gods' first season

American Gods - Season One

This month, Amazon Prime aired the first episode of season two of American Gods. Based on
Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel of the same name, American Gods centres around ancient Gods in modern, American society. But is it worth watching this series? Let us dive back into Gaiman’s strange world and find out.

Days before he is expected to be released from prison, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is told that his beloved wife, Laura (Emily Browning), is dead. Before he could attend her funeral, many bizarre scenarios delay his journey home – including the enigmatic figure, Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane). Mr Wednesday offers him a job to be his bodyguard because a war is coming between the Old Gods and the New Gods. Each day, the Gods of Technology and Media grow stronger, meaning that the Old Gods might get erased. Will Shadow help his new friends gain their strength and fight the New Gods, before they become irrelevant?

The concept of Gods and Goddesses living in modern society is a refreshing, subversive one. Many deities make cameos in the show, from Anansi and Anubis to Thoth. Wednesday and Shadow’s road trip is an allusion to the Beats Generation, particularly Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. This, along with the bizarre events, adds to the psychedelic feel that the show conveys. To make matters weirder, Laura revives, her body mangled and moulding from being in the grave. All these bizarre storylines are only the tip of the iceberg. Things get crazier when the New Gods are introduced. So far, Bryan Fuller displays Gaiman’s strange, dangerous portrayal of America perfectly. Hopefully, they will give us more context about the war in Season Two.

Many of the people Shadow meets, from Gods to unhinged bumpkins, will get under one’s
skin. Ian McShane is as the bitter antihero, Mr Wednesday, lightens the mood in many bleak scenes with his deadpan humour. Both Ricky Whittle and Emily Browning share no chemistry with one another. While Whittle plays the soft-hearted yet strong protagonist, Browning plays Laura, Shadow’s catty, unlikeable girlfriend. Roaming the world of the living as a rotting zombie does not change her icy behaviour toward Shadow throughout the story. Crispin Glover’s ominous performance as Mr World – the New God of Technology – will send shivers down one’s spine. Although his presence is reminiscent of a Bond villain, he does act as the chess master who controls the war.

Its quirky visuals and music are the show’s highlights. Brian Reitzell’s use of Indigenous music will make you feel like you’re in ancient times, instead of Modern America. His soundtrack also includes timeless classics from singers like Bob Dylan, The Dixie Cups, Johnny Cash, and Nirvana. Fuller’s use of neon lighting adds to the timeless feel within the show. The neon lit diners, bars and multi-coloured cars signify the modern American culture and the New Gods within the show. Yet, the show’s logo is a fluorescent totem pole, a clever fusion between old and new.

Neil Gaiman’s tale twists our expectations toward the typical fantasy quest. The tale of clashing Gods is refreshing and makes a change from the archetypal chosen one storyline. With its mind-altering visuals and captivating story, this thrill ride will keep you at the edge of your seat.