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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

"You gotta serve somebody," Bob Dylan once sang. The deities on Starz's American Gods are vying for that service. And they're not messing around.

Turns out, the gods of yore have hit hard times as of late, what with the world growing more secular and so few folks having the inclination to set up sacrificial altars in their closets. Americans bow before different masters now. Media. Drugs. The internet. These are the gods ascendant, the new kids on Elysium's block. And they're not interested in sharing their worshiping masses with a bunch of has-beens from history class.

But the Old Gods still have a few tricks up their sleeves. In fact one of them is orchestrating a climactic showdown between the old and the new—a winner-take-all contest that'll make the whole Zeus vs. Chronos conflict look like a game of Twister.

Altared States

Shadow Moon stands at the center of this murky melee. He never intended to get mixed up with the gods, but he didn't have much going on when the mysterious Mr. Wednesday offered him a job. See, he had just gotten out of prison, but his wife and best friend were both killed in a traffic accident … in a seriously compromised position that revealed the two were having an affair. The job Shadow's best friend had promised him died that day, too. So while Wednesday doesn't seem to be the most honorable of men, at least the money's good and the work is relatively light.

Well, except when Shadow's attacked by quasi-spiritual assailants, that is.

See, Wednesday's a god—Woden, or Odin, to be precise, from the old Norse myths. He's up to something, and the New Gods—led by the young and seriously punkish Technical Boy—know it. They want to find out what Shadow knows. And if Shadow doesn't tell them anything, maybe they can just kill him.

But Shadow has more on his mind than just putting up with these divine hijinks. Because thanks to a special, magic coin given to him by a seriously angry leprechaun, it turns out his dead wife, Laura, just might not be so dead after all.

Baal Out of Here!

Let's get this out of the way now and perhaps save you from the rest of this review: American Gods is the worst, most content-laden show on television. And it's not even close.

Even apart from the show's syncretistic take on spirituality, it achieves this dubious distinction early and often. American Gods features incredibly explicit sex scenes. Its special effects team clearly bought fake blood by the liquid ton. The language is blushingly, crushingly foul. It's almost as if someone from Starz' executive wing looked at Game of Thrones and American Horror Story and said, "Nope, not extreme enough. Let's double it. Triple it if we can."

Stir the show's murky spirituality into the mix, and American Gods becomes just that much more troubling.

It's not that the idea of gods losing their mystical mojo from lack of worship is exactly new terrain. In fact, I think I remember a Star Trek episode ("Who Mourns for Adonais?") dedicated to that very dynamic. And if the show sequestered itself to just old Norse and Egyptian mythological figures, along with making its sly, cogent statements on the new "gods" we've built for ourselves, I could at least give American Gods a little credit for making some kind of statement about what we Americans worship.

But the opening credit sequence—festooned with Buddhas, Jewish menorahs and, yes, Christian crosses—makes it clear that this series has more ambition than that. We can't say definitively where it will go with its depiction of Christianity, of course—not at this early juncture. But according to the American Gods wiki, five different actors will play the show's version of Jesus: "White Jesus," "Black Jesus," "Mexican Jesus," "Hippie Jesus" and "Asian Jesus." It suggests the showrunners put just about as much stock in Christianity as they do its angry leprechauns: That is, not much.

American Gods is based on an award-winning book by Neil Gaiman. And if the show follows the novel, viewers are in for a twisty, crazy and incredibly bumpy ride. My advice? Don't even get on. This show, like the gods it gives us, is not worth our time.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

American Gods: Apr. 30, 2017 "The Bone Orchard"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon; Emily Browning as Laura Moon; Bruce Langley as Technical Boy; Yetide Badaki as Bilquis; Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney; Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday; Crispin Glover as Mr. World; Demore Barnes as Mr. Ibis; Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya; Peter Stormare as Czernobog; Gillian Anderson as Media; Kristin Chenoweth as Easter

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Released

On Video

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Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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