We know Ricky Whittle is still going to be at the helm of American Gods. You can’t get rid of the main character…most of times. But that doesn’t negate, take away, or erase what American Gods is doing in general: getting rid of it’s actors of color for no damn reason besides “creative differences” and “taking the show in a different direction.”
I read the book, I know who appears in the content I consumed. But that doesn’t matter when it comes to the TV version because it’s an adaptation. Adaptations are inherently different from the original content. If they weren’t they’d be boring and predictable and that’s not what TV show runners and executives want.
What the people at the top of it all want is money. They want to bring in the views, get more subscribers, and grown Starz as a network of original content. And you do that by creating a moving story, introducing compelling characters, and by knowing that as the story changes, so do expectations or the story in general.
This is called organic growth. And for many shows it takes you in unexpected directions. Just look at Arrow on The CW. They saw the potential and chemistry that Emily Bett Rickards had with Stephen Amell. And just because this show was based on the comics didn’t mean they were going to force Green Arrow/Black Canary upon us, especially when it was clear there was nothing between them.
Arrow adapted, they saw what worked, what didn’t, and ended up making one of their best decisions ever by bringing on Felicity Smoak to be Oliver Queen’s partner in life and in crime. This is proof that organic growth happens and shows are pulled in unexpected and fantastic directions that fans approve of. So if this is true for Arrow, why can’t it be true for American Gods?
Mr. Nancy, putting it simply, is ridiculously loved by his American Gods family. Every time he steps onscreen we are glued to our seats and electrified by his powerful and poignant words. His character knows that angry gets shit done, how to tell a compelling story, and what it takes to draw the eye while in a scene. Essentially he’s TV gold. So why the hell did Starz get rid of him?
Simply put, Orlando Jones Mr. Nancy doesn’t fit into “the look” that white executives want to portray when it comes to Black America. And we call bullshit. You can’t tell a man who put his heart, soul, and writing hours into a character, that he isn’t Black America. He is. And we are being robbed of that organic growth, this mind blowing character, because someone doesn’t like how he portrays people of color.
We call bullshit!
Orlando Jones, despite not being the male lead, he owns every single scene that he’s in and he IS NOT interchangeable for another person of color that American Gods is certainly to introduce when it returns for its next season because that’s what executives think is ok when it comes to people of color. We can be easily replaced.
People of color can’t be interchangeable.
New Media (Kahyun Kim), who was also let go, is not interchangeable.
The Jinn (Mousa Kraish), who was ALSO let go, is not interchangeable.
Each and every single one of these characters grew in unexpected and pivotal ways. Mr. Nancy grew to be a voice for people of color. New Media took on the reins from Gillian Anderson and delivered a God to die for. And the Jinn showed us that love can find its way to each other in the most unexpected ways.
And I’m proud of them. I’m proud of their growth, how much they’ve connected with fans, and how they have changed how we look at these pivotal roles played by people of color.
From where I’m sitting in the consumer chair of it all, these were the characters that we came back to see, week after week. And the firings happening feel like an attack by Starz that is unwarranted, wrong, and coming from a place of ignorance. And we’re not ok with it.
We’re still not sure if we’re going to watch American Gods when it comes back. That’s the gods honest truth. But what we are sure of is that we’re going to continue supporting Orlando Jones, Khayun Kim, and Mousa Kraish. They are talented creators of color that deserve all the love, roles, and accolades for the hard work they put into creating POC characters that people see themselves in.
And no matter how much Starz tries to tell us that the show was “going in a different direction” remember the rule of organic growth: if it feels good, looks good, and is being well received, you adapt and you grow from it. Is it uncharted territory? Hell yeah. But the rewards that you’ll receive from expanding highly loved characters makes it all worth while.
Will you be watching American Gods when it returns? Let us know in the comments section below.