ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

Ideas are more difficult to kill than people — but they can be killed, in the end.

That's a line taken from the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods, which becomes a major new fantasy series on Starz this month, and it's also an apt description of the big difference between Gods and that other huge fantasy series on TV with which comparisons are guaranteed to be drawn.

In Game Of Thrones, people are easy to kill, and that's what wins the war. But in , the old gods face a greater challenge — to inspire belief in a world now dominated by media, tech and sex, or accept their extinction.

It's a uniquely arresting premise and quite a difficult sell to casual audiences who might think fantasy should always involve "dragons and tits," but the first critics' reviews of American Gods suggest HBO might face some real competition in the fantasy realm from the old gods and the new (or deities and tits).

So far on Metacritic, American Gods is averaging a superb 87/100. That's based on just five reviews (critics saw the first four episodes from a total of eight in Season 1), so the score could still climb or dip, but so far the reception is overwhelmingly positive. Below are the best bits of what the critics had to say:

IndieWire: "A Mysterious Slow-Burn, Feels Like It's Building To Something Grand"

In an B+ review, IndieWire had minor problems with the show's pacing ("it can be frustratingly slow and too mysterious for its own good"), but heaps praise on the cast, particularly Ian McShane, and the "gorgeous, violent" visuals:

"McShane, giving the runaway performance highlight of the series, does his best to charm us into submission. “Daddy likes a slow ride,” he tells his driver, just before the story itself slows down even further ... Fans of Neil Gaiman’s novel should be pleased with how the series interprets his characters, as [the key players] all leave strong, addictive first impressions."

Click to read the full review.

The AV Club: "In The Spirit Of The Book, With Smart Alterations; McShane Is Perfect"

The AV Club review notes that American Gods feels like a timely story about immigration (it was written by Gaiman with that theme in mind fifteen years ago), and scores the series a strong A-.

"The first half of the series is very much in the spirit of the novel ... Wednesday speaks in chants, and to let him go on too long is to fall under his spell. McShane is perfectly cast as a new-world version of the chief Norse god ... Bilquis’ worship scene [is reimagined] as the dating app hookup to end all dating-app hookups. But though Fuller and Green have mostly remained faithful to their source material, they’ve followed Gaiman’s example in breathing new life into iconic figures ... ['Gods'] will definitely tide you over until that other fantasy drama returns."

Click to read the full review.

'American Gods' [Credit: Starz]
'American Gods' [Credit: Starz]

Entertainment Weekly: "Visual Genius Bryan Fuller Creates A Richly Subversive Mythology"'s A- review draws strong parallels between politics of today's USA and what's going on in the show, while again describing McShane as having "wicked fun" playing Wednesday, with huge praise for showrunner Bryan Fuller's visual style.

"Shadow is black, which is worth mentioning because it’s rare for protagonists in this kind of saga to be anything but white — and because the show doesn’t let you forget it, with images that dote on his hard-bodied masculinity, an objectification that nurtures a story where America’s racial history is one of many layers of subtext.

The show incorporates a device from the novel, chunky cutaways to other gods “Somewhere In America” that serve to introduce characters we’ll get to know more downstream ... The result is [a series] that feels incredibly rich and meaty, working with Bryan Fuller’s tremendous visual style."

Click to read the full review.

American Gods premieres Sunday, April 30 on Starz — and as Wednesday himself says in the trailer, "It will be glorious, win or lose."

Are you ready for another major fantasy addiction, or does American Gods seem just a little too surreal?

'American Gods' [Credit: Starz]
'American Gods' [Credit: Starz]


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