|Based on||American Gods|
by Neil Gaiman
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Running time||52–63 minutes|
|Original release||April 30, 2017 –|
March 21, 2021
American Gods is an American fantasy drama television series based on Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel of the same name and developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for the premium cable network Starz. Produced by Fremantle North America and distributed by Lionsgate Television, the first season premiered on April 30, 2017. Fuller and Green served as the showrunners for the first season and were replaced by Jesse Alexander for the second season. Charles H. Eglee served as showrunner for the third season. Gaiman served as an executive producer.
Ricky Whittle plays the series' lead Shadow Moon, who meets a strange man named Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) after being released from prison and soon becomes embroiled in a large-scale conflict between the Old Gods and the New Gods, who grow stronger each day. In May 2017, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on March 10, 2019. The following week, Starz renewed American Gods for the third season, which premiered on January 10, 2021. In March 2021, the series was canceled after three seasons.
The series received praise for its visual style and acting and received two nominations at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Special Visual Effects. It also received three nominations at the 8th Critics' Choice Television Awards, including Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series for McShane, and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Gillian Anderson.
Only days before his scheduled release from prison, Shadow Moon is told his wife has been killed in a car accident, and he is released early to attend the funeral. A series of events delay his trip home, during which time he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday repeatedly offers Shadow a job, which he refuses until Wednesday reveals that the job waiting for him at home no longer exists. Shadow accepts the offer to become Wednesday's minder (driver/assistant/bodyguard).
Shadow finds himself in a hidden world where magic is real and a collection of "Old Gods" fear irrelevance in the face of the growing power of a collection of "New Gods", which include Technology and Media. In a grand plan to combat this deadly threat, Mr. Wednesday attempts to unite the Old Gods to defend their existence and rebuild the influence they have lost, leaving Shadow struggling to accept this new world and his place in it.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||April 30, 2017||June 18, 2017|
|2||8||March 10, 2019||April 28, 2019|
|3||10||January 10, 2021||March 21, 2021|
Main article: American Gods (season 1)
|Title||Directed by||Teleplay by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"The Bone Orchard"||David Slade||Bryan Fuller & Michael Green||April 30, 2017||0.975|
|2||2||"The Secret of Spoons"||David Slade||Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||May 7, 2017||0.710|
|3||3||"Head Full of Snow"||David Slade||Bryan Fuller & Michael Green||May 14, 2017||0.716|
|4||4||"Git Gone"||Craig Zobel||Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||May 21, 2017||0.631|
|5||5||"Lemon Scented You"||Vincenzo Natali||David Graziano||May 28, 2017||0.666|
|6||6||"A Murder of Gods"||Adam Kane||Seamus Kevin Fahey and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||June 4, 2017||0.607|
|7||7||"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"||Adam Kane||Maria Melnik||June 11, 2017||0.629|
|8||8||"Come to Jesus"||Floria Sigismondi||Bekah Brunstetter and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller||June 18, 2017||0.774|
Main article: American Gods (season 2)
|Title||Directed by||Teleplay by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|9||1||"House on the Rock"||Christopher J. Byrne||Jesse Alexander & Neil Gaiman||March 10, 2019||0.520|
|10||2||"The Beguiling Man"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Tyler Dinucci & Andres Fischer-Centeno||March 17, 2019||0.348|
|11||3||"Muninn"||Deborah Chow||Heather Bellson||March 24, 2019||0.329|
|12||4||"The Greatest Story Ever Told"||Stacie Passon||Peter Calloway & Aditi Brennan Kapil||March 31, 2019||0.336|
|13||5||"The Ways of the Dead"||Salli Richardson-Whitfield||Rodney Barnes||April 7, 2019||0.306|
|14||6||"Donar the Great"||Rachel Talalay||Adria Lang||April 14, 2019||0.240|
|15||7||"Treasure of the Sun"||Paco Cabezas||Heather Bellson||April 21, 2019||0.318|
|16||8||"Moon Shadow"||Christopher J. Byrne||Aditi Brennan Kapil & Jim Danger Gray||April 28, 2019||0.272|
Main article: American Gods (season 3)
|Title||Directed by||Teleplay by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|17||1||"A Winter's Tale"||Jon Amiel||David Paul Francis||January 10, 2021||0.209|
|18||2||"Serious Moonlight"||Julian Holmes||Moises Verneau||January 17, 2021||0.185|
|19||3||"Ashes and Demons"||Thomas Carter||Anne Kenney||January 24, 2021||0.160|
|20||4||"The Unseen"||Eva Sørhaug||Nick Gillie||January 31, 2021||0.204|
|21||5||"Sister Rising"||Nick Copus||Damian Kindler||February 14, 2021||0.123|
|22||6||"Conscience of the King"||Mark Tinker||Aric Avelino||February 21, 2021||0.197|
|23||7||"Fire and Ice"||Rachel Goldberg||Anne Kenney & David Paul Francis||February 28, 2021||0.180|
|24||8||"The Rapture of Burning"||Tim Southam||Holly Moyer||March 7, 2021||0.110|
|25||9||"The Lake Effect"||Metin Hüseyin||Laura Pusey & Damian Kindler||March 14, 2021||0.153|
|26||10||"Tears of the Wrath-Bearing Tree"||Russell Fine||Laura Pusey & Ryan Spencer||March 21, 2021||0.182|
In 2011, American Gods author Neil Gaiman stated at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that HBO had expressed an interest in adapting the novel into a television series. In March 2013, Gaiman spoke of the project's progress at the Cambridge International Student Film Festival, and confirmed that the prospective series' opening episode would "contain new elements and details" while still remaining "a lot like the opening chapters of the book". He also commented that the book would only make up the first two seasons of the show and that he was still working on the pilot script, as his first script was not close enough to his book for HBO's satisfaction. In November 2013, Gaiman announced on Reddit that the TV series was still in the works but no longer at HBO. In 2014, HBO's president of programming Michael Lombardo revealed that the project had been abandoned because they could not get the script right: "We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don't happen".
In February 2014, Fremantle Media acquired the rights to adapt the novel as a fantasy drama series. In July 2014, it was announced that Starz would be developing the series with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Fuller stated that the series would be "[following] the events of the books but expanding those events, and expanding the point of view to go above and beyond Shadow and Wednesday". Permission has been given for the series to incorporate elements from the book's companion, Anansi Boys. Fuller also confirmed that Gaiman is "very involved" with the production and expressed his hope that Gaiman would write an episode himself.
On June 16, 2015, Starz officially announced that it had greenlit the series. During an interview with Neil Gaiman on June 24, 2016, he discussed plans for future seasons of the show beyond the first, should it be continued, and noting that the first season only covers the first third of the novel. Gaiman stated in an interview in October 2018 that the plan was to make five seasons of the series.
On May 10, 2017, the series was renewed for a second season. On November 29, 2017, it was announced that Fuller and Green were departing the show and were to be replaced as showrunners for season two after having completed writing roughly half of the season's scripts. On February 2, 2018, Jesse Alexander was announced as co-showrunner for the second season alongside Gaiman, however Alexander was removed in September 2018. With no showrunner, producing director Chris Byrne and line producer Lisa Kussner were left in charge. Production began on the second season in April 2018, and with the season premiering on March 10, 2019.
American Gods was renewed for a third season on March 15, 2019, with Charles Eglee announced as the showrunner for the third season. The season consists of ten episodes, and was scheduled to film between September 20, 2019, and March 6, 2020. The third season premiered on January 10, 2021.
By April 2019, Gaiman and Eglee had begun to plan a fourth season. On March 29, 2021, Starz canceled the series after three seasons.
Fuller stated that he wanted the Old Gods to be portrayed as gritty and rustic to "demonstrate the well-worn aspects of their religion and the consequences of going without faith for so long", while the New Gods are portrayed as slick and updated with their technology to illuminate "how valuable and pertinent they are, in their own religions."
On January 28, 2016, Ricky Whittle was cast as the lead character, Shadow Moon. On March 2, 2016, it was announced that Ian McShane had been cast as Mr. Wednesday. It was later announced on March 17, 2016, that Emily Browning would play Laura Moon, Shadow's wife. On March 23, 2016, it was announced that Sean Harris, Yetide Badaki and Bruce Langley would play the respective roles of Mad Sweeney, Bilquis and Technical Boy. On April 14, 2016, Jonathan Tucker and Crispin Glover were cast as Low Key Lyesmith and Mr. World. On May 6, 2016, it was announced that Sean Harris had departed the series after a week of filming due to personal reasons and the role of Mad Sweeney was being recast. On May 11, 2016, it was announced that Pablo Schreiber would take over the role of Mad Sweeney. In June 2016, it was announced that Gillian Anderson would portray Media.
In December 2019, Orlando Jones stated that he had been fired from American Gods in September. He alleged that the new showrunner, Charles Eglee, decided that his character, Mr. Nancy, sends "the wrong message for black America". In response, a spokesperson for the series stated that Jones' contract was not renewed because Mr. Nancy does not appear in the part of the book on which the season 3 episodes are based.
The opening sequence was created by production studio Elastic and depicts a totem pole covered with the juxtaposition of symbols, icons, and forms from religions, modern life, and pop culture. Fuller stated that a totem was chosen to represent both the United States' original faith system, Native American spirituality, and "as something that gave a cohesive quality to all these disparate ideas". Creative director Patrick Clair said he was not interested in depicting every god featured in the novel, so he just tried to make "deities inspired by gods across all manner of different religions – but messed up in ways that we found to be interesting, sticky, sort of sexy, challenging, dirty, wrong, but hopefully interesting," such as a crucified astronaut, a sphinx built out of an Aibo, and a Menorah with electric sockets and DIN connectors in its branches. The overall aesthetic aimed for the "really modern, occasionally very tacky, vision of the underbelly of America", with the designers taking reference from strip club decoration and making the backgrounds using textures of vinyl, fake leather, and concrete surfaces. Brian Reitzell composed the theme music, which according to Fuller, represented "male and female energy coming in at different places as part of representations of divinity".
The first trailer for the series was released on July 22, 2016, at San Diego Comic-Con International.
American Gods premieres on Sunday each week in the U.S. on the Starz app, before airing the same day on Starz at 9:00 pm Eastern. Each episode becomes available internationally on Amazon Video the day after the U.S. broadcast.
The first season of American Gods received largely positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% rating with an average score of 8.12 out of 10 based on 89 reviews with the consensus stating: "American Gods opens with a series of wildly ambitious gambits – and rewards viewers' faith with a promising first season whose visual riches are matched by its narrative impact." On Metacritic, it has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The second season received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 60% rating with an average score of 6.11 of 10 based on 27 reviews, with the consensus stating: "American Gods retains its bombastic style but loses its divine inspiration in a derivative second season that, after a change in show-runners and even some crucial cast members, feels like a false idol." On Metacritic, it has a score of 47 out of 100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has a 79% rating with an average score of 6.90 out of 10 based on 19 reviews, with the critical consensus stating, "Though it's unlikely to bring anyone back into the fold, American Gods' tighter focus and strong performances may be enough for fans still holding out hope for a solid finish."
|2017||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Main Title Design||Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Devin Maurer and Jeff Han||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Kevin Tod Haug, David Stump, Jeremy Ball, Bernice Charlotte Howes, Jessica Smith, Josh Carlton, Pierre Buffin, James Cooper and Aymeric Perceval (for "The Bone Orchard")||Nominated|||
|Black Reel Awards||Outstanding Guest Performer: Drama Series||Orlando Jones||Nominated|||
|2018||Critics' Choice Awards||Best Drama Series||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Drama Series||Ian McShane||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Gillian Anderson||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Genre||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||American Gods||Nominated|||
|Best Actor on Television||Ricky Whittle||Nominated|
|Best DVD or Blu-ray Television Release||American Gods: Season One||Won|
|2019||Saturn Awards||Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Television Series||American Gods||Nominated|||