Executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green didn’t come into American Gods with the express purpose of creating a show that acted as a response to our political climate now. American Gods is the story of the American experience, even those bits that people perceive as being ugly, that want they want to sweep under the rug, and ignore.
We got to speak with Fuller and Green about the creative process of transforming Neil Gaiman’s epic American Gods for TV, what they wanted their viewers to experience, having strong female stories expanded, and their lack of fear when it came to male nudity on TV.
Let’s start off by clarifying that American Gods is Fuller and Green’s fanfiction, brought to life with tender loving care and countless hours mulling over what they wanted people to experience when it finally made it to screen.
“It was lovely we just got to fanboy out about the show and all those things that we liked we made sure we were going to represent them as beautifully as we imagined when we read the book. It was really about being fanfiction.”
– Michael Green
They didn’t want to just regurgitate everything in the book, no matter how lovely it is and how masterfully Gaiman put it. There’s no way they were going to do better than Gaiman or give readers exactly what the book offered. Instead they went for an experience with a focus on what you’d remember, what stuck with you, after the first initial reading of the book.
According to Fuller, “It’s always that question of how you give people who don’t know the book or don’t remember the book the experience we had reading it, and we can only give them our experience of reading it, but that’s the advantage of being the ones allowed to adapt it. Someone else’s will be different, arguably better, but haha it’s ours.”
Having this clear focus helped them realize what things they wanted to keep, what they wanted to diverge from, and what they wanted to expand on. One of those expansions is the women of the novel. The show has allowed the EP’s and Gaiman to talk about Laura, Bilquis, Easter, and Media, all powerful women who we will be fortunate enough to get to know more about when American Gods premieres.
“We were interested in telling women’s stories.”
– Bryan Fuller
The show will, for example, have an episode completely dedicated to telling the story of Laura Moon from an angle other than Shadow’s. And after watching it you might love Laura even more, connect with her in a way you’ll never be able to with Shadow, or you might hate her entirely and want her to disappear.
The matter of the fact is that you will see what makes this woman tick and how her story intersects with Shadow’s from her POV and have this sudden realization that, “Oh, this is actually who she is and he (Shadow) might have never have met his own wife,” Fuller explained. We, as the viewer, might in fact have never met Shadow’s wife either.
So prepare yourself for women that are angry, determined, sad, a force of nature, and a multitude of others things in the midst of this grand story about the Old Gods versus the New ones. They are part of the American story and EP’s want to make sure that you know it.
While we’re on our lovely and fierce women, let’s talk nudity. There’s no denying that female nudity is prevalent on premium networks. It’s the norm and we aren’t even shocked when we see a pair of bare breasts pop up on our screens. What’s really shocking is to see a dick on TV. Completely bare, male frontal nudity. American Gods has it.
“Starz loves cock,” Green said. Fuller, in complete agreement continued with, “Starz, home of mouth watering cock!”
Both EP’s didn’t see nudity as some sort of way of being inflammatory or about going to the extreme. They wanted to challenge people and be authentic at the same time. Dicks are part of life and they weren’t going to throw a little fig leaf over it or shy away from it. They had the support of Starz from the beginning. In fact Starz wanted equal opportunity and sexual content.
They told Fuller and Green, “Do what you want. Do it artfully. Do it with our support.”
At the end of the day American Gods is about chasing things that are new. They want to freak people out and tell an epic story that is a hybrid of cinema and television. The marketplace is hungry right now and American Gods is ready to deliver content that is beautifully imagined, compelling, and that starts a conversation on what we worship on a daily basis.
American Gods premieres Sunday, April 30th at 9/8c on Starz.