The first season of American Gods dropped at a tipping point in global politics. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s 2001 cult book of the same name, the story exists in a world where each of the many immigrants who built modern America brought their own gods with them. Being immortal, these ancient deities are still around, fighting it out for scraps of belief with the newfangled idols of society, technology and globalisation.
The result was a sweeping, overwhelming, borderline-hallucinogenic meditation on immigration, race, religion, identity, belief, the power of the media and the pull of tradition. Arriving in early 2017, it could scarcely have been better timed.
“It’s not something we did on purpose,” says the series’ star Ricky Whittle. “We wrapped the first season before the Trump inauguration – before the crap hit the fan. It just so happened that all this material was already in the show – and it became current. Neil Gaiman said at the premiere that he would have given up all the money and fame and accolades for this show to remain a fantasy, but unfortunately, we’re in a position now where a lot of this is happening around us here in America.”
As Shadow Moon, Whittle is our guide to a bizarre, eye-popping world where a one-eyed Gallows God earns his way as a grifter; the Queen of Sheba works as a prostitute (sometimes swallowing men whole with her vagina); and you might get your head in your hands from a bar fight with a leprechaun.
If you feel your head’s starting to spin, even without the aid of a punch from an Irish fairy, you’re not alone. Some viewers complained it was just too confusing.