How the American Gods TV Series Will Differ From the Book

Friday, 30 September 2016 - 4:08PM
American Gods
Friday, 30 September 2016 - 4:08PM
How the American Gods TV Series Will Differ From the Book
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American Gods is one of those books that hit shelves, took off running, and never stopped. Originally published in 2001, the book features Shadow Moon, a convict who is released from prison only to find that his wife has been killed in an accident. He takes a job as a bodyguard for a man named Mr. Wednesday, a conman who pulls Shadow into a world of magic, gods, and myths. You can watch the trailer for the Starz TV series below:

It's interesting to note that there's probably some cross-pollination between American Gods and Gaiman's other uber-popular series, The Sandman, as well as the work of his longtime friend (and sometimes writing partner) Terry Pratchett, whose book Small Gods parallels one of the central themes of American Gods: the idea that the existence and power of gods, like Odin or Zeus, waxes and wanes depending on how many people believe in them. One of the key conflicts in Gaiman's novel is the rise of a new set of gods that reflect America's modern obsession with drugs, fame, and technology.

When Starz announced that a new TV series would be based on American Gods, to air in 2017, we knew next to nothing besides some photos. Now, however, a few new pieces of information have been released, much of it having to do with the scope of the show and the lore Gaiman is bringing to the table. First, it's important to note that Brian Fuller, the showrunner for Gods, has said in the past that he wants to do a Marvel-style spinoff scheme with the different deities:

Opening quote
"Well, we don't have the rights to Anansi Boys but we're hoping that we will eventually. Mr. Nancy is going to play a major role in the series and potentially what we're looking at with American Gods is developing a Marvel Universe, not with superheroes but with gods. As detailed and integrated as the Marvel Universe is, and doing that with deities is something that excited all of us……. So who knows? In success we may have spin-offs of American Gods that follow lesser gods in greater detail than you might in the main series, but there's all sorts of potential for this show that we're very excited about...
Closing quote

So, right off the bat, the TV series may already be subtly altering different characters and deities to prepare them to take over their own shows in the future, with Mr. Nancy being a prime candidate. 

Mad Sweeney, too, is going to be getting a bit more spotlight thrown on him. According to the Nerdist, several of the gods in the series will be getting their own "coming to America" stories, which show how they arrived in the US, with Mad Sweeney potentially getting his own. Apparently, Sweeney will play a much larger role in general than in the books, which means fleshing out his character and history in ways readers have never seen before. So prepare for a lot more of Sweeney's mohawked Irish mug.

And that's the third thing: Gaiman's "Author's Preferred Text", released in 2013, added an extra 12,000 words to the story, but that reportedly wasn't everything Gaiman had in terms of lore, backstory, or character details. Gaiman is apparently going to be weaving some of the unreleased lore (and maybe some of the things he only alluded to in the book) into the show, which means potentially revising our images of deities like Mr. Wednesday.

So, all in all, the American Gods show promises to be a more expanded version of the book's canon, with some characters taking on a life of their own. For those of you looking for spoilers, now might be a good time to pick up that "Author's Preferred Text" edition. For those of you who haven't read the book, it's time to start brushing up on your mythology.

American Gods is set to premiere in 2017.
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American Gods