ByHeather Snowden, writer at
Lover of bad puns, nostalgic feels and all things Winona. Email: [email protected] Tweet: @heathbetweetin
Heather Snowden

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first season of American Gods, so if you want to keep your viewing experience sacred, make like Odin and kill this tab pronto!

With less than two months to go until Neil Gaiman's seminal masterpiece American Gods is unleashed on the small screen in all its bank-robbing, coin-flipping, god-hunting glory, it's safe to say that our excitement levels are reaching boiling point. With so few spoilers wiggling around the web, there's plenty to be intrigued about — like, how they filmed that death by vagina scene, for example, or how they dealt with making a TV show about a bunch of ancients who believe is evil. That kind of thing.

And, while this article doesn't quite deliver much in terms of spoilers, it does provide insight into the approach of showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Talking to Rotten Tomatoes, the duo behind Starz's adaptation discuss the questions mentioned above and add a couple of cool tidbits about pacing and its soundtrack.

First Things First, When Do We Meet The Gods?

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

In Gaiman's novel, it's a while before the gods reveal their identities to Shadow (Rickie Whittle) in a bizarre unveiling ceremony of sorts. In short, in Chapter 5, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) brings Shadow to the Carousel Room in a roadside attraction dubbed the "House on the Rock." Here Wednesday, Czernobog (Peter Stormare) and Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) mount the carousel before Shadow joins them, the Blue Danube Waltz starts to play, the lights go out and the gods emerge.

It looks like the TV show will tackle Shadow's venture into this bizarre new world at a similar, if not slower, pace:

"There was an instinct for us to get some taste of magic into this show sooner rather than later. What we found, the further that we dug into the book, is that the more we pushed off the blatantly supernatural elements that Shadow would perceive, the more time that we had for him to feel like his perception of reality was slipping through his fingers."

In fact, we're not going to get to that particular scene in the first season at all — we'll have to wait at least another year, for a second season to take us to the House on the Rock. So start working on that patience (sob). Rest assured though, the show will not leave any of the book's best bits untouched.

How Does One Film A Man Being Swallowed Whole Via A Vagina?

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

Good question — how does one approach a scene in which old goddess Bilquis engulfs a man into her womb abyss, never to be seen again? A good question, but perhaps the better one is, how do you find an actress who's able to portray it?

Fuller explains that it takes a deep (pun intended) understanding of the scene to do it justice; a knowledge that it's not a salacious sex act but rather a demonstration of the deitie's power, and carry it with grace and dignity:

"Finding an actor who could give that scene a dignity and a power that eclipsed the sort of baser sexual elements of it and made it the elegant piece that it was in the novel. I don’t think we would have pulled it off if it weren’t Yetide Badaki. That scene was Yetide’s audition scene, and it’s the strangest audition that I’ve ever sat in."

We need to see that audition tape, pronto!

The Book Brims With Brilliant Tracks — Will The TV Show Do That Justice?

See also:

Yes, abso-fucking-lutely! From the first episode, a tune that Shadow recalls as "an old children's song" plays in the background while he grabs a drink in a dive bar with Mr. Wednesday:

"We have a list from the book the music supervisor keeps and wants to parcel out. I don’t think it’s too big a spoiler to say that “Iko Iko” appears in the pilot in exactly the scene where it’s specified in the book. You couldn’t imagine beginning that scene without it."

The whole season will be scattered with musical nods to the book, and even if the songs aren't played in their original forms, die-hard fans may recognize their home-brand re-imaginings:

"Brian Reitzell, our composer and music supervisor, has a wide vocabulary with music and musical styles. He picked up lyrics that are referenced without citing a specific song. He hunted them down, found the original song and then did a brand new version of that song. Only people who are hardcore fans of the book will be like, “Oh my God, they realized that those lyrics that were quoted were from a specific song!”'

Challenge accepted!

Have The Gods Changed Drastically?

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

No, but they have been updated to fit our times. After all, Neil Gaiman published American Gods back in 2001, in the days when any kid who spent their days online was considered to be square-eyed and surrounded by Cheeto dust — à la Cartman in South Park's "World of Warcraft" episode:

"It felt like there was an evolution of the technical savvy individual that was portrayed in the novel, which was written 15 years ago. The book sort of describes the quintessential overweight hacker that Donald Trump was shielding the Russians with. Now technology is much more socialized than it was 15 years ago. We see the integration of technology and all these other industries, particularly fashion. So we felt like it’d be an interesting evolution of the character if he was as fashion forward as he was tech savvy."

Well, I'm not sure "fashion forward" is the title I'd give to this obnoxious man bun, but he certainly looks like a character who'll be fun to hate.

Lastly, How Does It Feel Making A TV Show About A World In Which TV Is The Villain?

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

Seriously though?

"Well, it depends on how you define evil. I think we’ve got some new parameters in how evil is defined these days, in this particular political climate. It is a lesser evil certainly than the evil swirling about the world today. Scripted TV is a lesser. Reality TV is the black tar of Satan."

And given that we've seen where reality TV shows can lead a person, I'd have to say I agree.

American Gods lands on Sunday, April 30 at 9/8c — check out the trailer below:

Are you ready to worship this show?

(Source: Rotten Tomatoes)


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