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

Since airing on Sunday night, the internet is all over a certain scene in the third episode of American Gods Season 1. You know which one I'm talking about — that marathon sex scene between two Muslim men, which featured full nudity and, once again for this series, broke new ground on television.

There were dicks on display. NY Mag's Abraham Riesman called it "the most pornographic gay sex scene ever put on TV," but while it was NSFW for sure (everything is on display), I'd contest that — being explicit doesn't make it porn, and calling it porn might be to miss the point the scene was actually trying to make.

Before we get into that, relive the five-minute scene in question:

It was easily one of the highlights of so far, but not because of how explicit it was. As with the unapologetic sexuality of Bilquis, goddess of love, the brilliance of the scene between salesman Salim (Omid Abtahi) and the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) is not in the fact that it exists and is sexual, but in the way writers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green bind it to the series' bigger themes of immigration and faith.

Salim has been in NYC a week, and he's having a shitty time. He can't sell the crap he's peddling, and he's just wasted a day waiting to meet a bank manager who fails to show up for their appointment. During a taxi ride home, his driver reveals himself to be the Jinn, a genie from Islamic folklore, but not one who grants wishes — or so he says. Stuck in traffic, they bond, and soon they're in Salim's hotel room.

The small details in this scene add up to something bigger — Salim doesn't look right in his oversized blue suit (which we'd briefly seen the Jinn wearing in Episode 2). The next morning, waking up alone, he finds a taxi driver's ID with his face on it, and leaves the hotel wearing the Jinn's sweater, which suits him better. Free from a salesman's life, he got his wish without having to ask for it.

And the sex itself, while full frontal and quite graphic for TV, is shot in a way that romanticizes the act rather than feeling gratuitous. So, while appreciating another excellent hour of television, let's not reduce the impact of this scene by labelling it porn.

More than just a groundbreaking portrayal of gay Muslim men on TV, it represents a turning point for Salim, and for the audience it demonstrates that the Old Gods still possess a degree of power. Even in a world in which few people believe, those who do, like Salim, are rewarded. That's a useful piece of world-building as American Gods lays the groundwork for the war on the horizon.

Check out more Easter Eggs and talking points from Episode 3, "Head Full of Snow."

What did you think of Salim's sex scene, and is American Gods living up to the hype as it continues to expand its mythology?

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