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Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Heads for Television; Will the Cast Reflect the Books’ Diversity?

STARZ is presently casting roles for the television adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods, anticipated to air in 2017. Following the success of shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander, both fantasy literature-turned-drama series, the show has the potential to be one of the most diversely cast programs on television. If the major roles are cast according to Gaiman’s original vision, it could embrace a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures.

In the series, Neil Gaiman suggests that when people emigrated to North America, they brought their culture and their gods with them. Gaiman’s America is full of gods from every group dating back to the Vikings, up to and including present day immigrants. The plot follows an ex-convict, Shadow, as he becomes a bodyguard for a man known as Mr. Wednesday. Those familiar with Norse lore will recognize Wednesday is a synonym for Woden’s Day, or Odin’s Day, indicating that Mr. Wednesday represents the Norse god Odin. Shadow’s work for Odin takes him across the country, leading to several encounters with other deities in human form from a wide swath of cultures. These include the Egyptian gods, Thoth, Anubis and Bast; the Hindu goddess Kali; the African god Anansi; Whiskey Jack or “Wisakedjak” of Algonquin lore; and Bilquis, the Queen of Sheba.

American Gods
Neil Gaiman. Credit: Source.

STARZ released the following promotional summary of the program: “The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.”

Gaiman’s work in the fantasy genre has been heavily influenced by cultural mythology, folk legends and ancient archetypes. Odin, Loki, and other Norse lords appear in several other books, as do Hecate/The One Who Are Three/Maid, Mother, and Crone. American Gods is an 1,000-page saga, with additional words added for the audiobook. The tale is therefore uniquely suited for a multiple season dramatic television series, if it is to include all the

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  • Haley Pollock is a parent, blogger and freelance writer. A third generation Northern Californian, and native of Napa Valley, she has contributed to The Purple Fig, Offbeat Families, and writes part time for a local parenting periodical. She blogs at Murmurs Of Hecate.

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