Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods hits Starz on April 30. The series boasts a cast that includes Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday, Gillian Anderson as Media, Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya (say that three times fast), Kristin Chenoweth as Easter, and Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy, just to name a few. To say that expectations for American Gods were high would be a blasphemous understatement: With the reputations of everyone from Gaiman and Fuller to pretty much every cast member, this series was destined to be subject to ridiculously high standards.
As far as this reviewer is concerned? American Gods is deserving of every drop of faith we can muster — and then some. Before the series even premieres, I can unequivocally say it’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly, we’re just not worthy.
Without giving away too many spoilers — you’ll have to tune in — check out our thoughts below.
American Gods readers, stop holding your breath.
Any time a television series is based on another work, one of the burning questions is whether or not the adaptation will be true to the source material. Let there be no doubt: What Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have done with American Gods is without parallel. Watching the series feels like living inside of Neil Gaiman’s novel, nothing more and nothing less. As promised at SDCC, American Gods expands Gaiman’s universe, while keeping fan-favorite passages intact.
This team made moving American Gods from the page to the screen look easy. Anyone who didn’t know better might even be inclined to believe that the adaptation worked the other way around. If the back-and-forth between Shadow’s “main” adventure and the “Coming to America” snippets was in any way troublesome for readers, it won’t be for viewers. Not only are these interludes placed at the beginning of episodes to keep the action going, but changing perspectives is kind of business as usual on television.
The American Gods aesthetic is, for lack of a better description, just way too pretty.
Some of the bloodier scenes — yes, plural and yes, very bloody — turn the gruesome into works of art. It’s almost criminal how well done they are. On top of that, there’s one scene in particular that might make viewers wish they were watching American Gods at a movie theater, on an IMAX 3D ticket. (I, for one, generally hate those things; but I’d gladly pay the price to see this series in that level of detail.)
Simply stated, part of what creates that aforementioned sense of living inside Gaiman’s universe is the magical visual effect that viewers of Fuller’s previous series have come to know and love.
The cast really is that good. And each time a new character is introduced, you’ll suddenly have a new favorite.
There’s no other way to put it: this cast just becomes their American Gods characters. Ian McShane is just as frustratingly mysterious as Mr. Wednesday as anyone could expect, and Ricky Whittle’s Shadow Moon reacts accordingly. Underneath of that, though, there’s an interesting tension that plays out in an almost lighthearted father-son dynamic…but not quite.
If the leads’ work is alarmingly good, then there are probably no words for what Gillian Anderson does in her first American Gods appearance. Because she’s never just herself — not exactly, anyway — Media may be one of the most difficult characters to master. But Gillian-as-Media-as-Lucy-Ricardo is everything fans have been waiting for since the American Gods team announced that yes, that scene would happen. And then some. She’s perfectly Lucy, yet perfectly not.
Again, it would be impossible to explain just how well cast this series is without giving away every detail. Just know that seeing your personal favorite will be more than worth the wait.
Make sure to watch American Gods when it premiers on Starz on Sunday, April 30 at 9/8c.
No one will protect you from the gods’ wrath if you don’t.1 of 1