I’m not sure it was a secret that season 2 of American Gods was a letdown. It’s been widely reported that even over the course of the first season, there was significant turmoil behind the scenes. To the point where the original show runners, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, departed. This led to the loss of stars Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth.
Despite these conflicts, the show managed to put on a pretty entertaining first season. Unfortunately, this would not be the case going forward. A pretty lackluster sophomore season also saw the ouster of Orlando Jones and Mousa Kraish, much to my disappointment.
I recently had the opportunity to sit with Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon) and Yetide Badaki (Bilquis). I was able to ask for their elevator pitch to bring lapsed fans back for season 3 of the show. Whittle had a refreshingly honest reply.
“To be quite honest, I’d say it’s a massive return to form. I’m a very honest person sometimes, too honest that I’m almost kind of on the spectrum where, you know, it’s offensive. […] I’ll probably get in trouble from the PR but I really don’t think season two hit the heights of season one and I think season three has already surpassed season 2 and season 3 is really looking like an incredible piece of work that I am so incredibly proud of for many reasons, many reasons.”
Whittle went on to describe the time that show runner Chic Eglee and author Neil Gaiman had together at the outset of the season and how it really made a difference in the character interactions and journeys.
Season two was kind of a little bit of a treasure hunt where it’s a bit mishmash over here there and everywhere it was full of just long monologues, where characters, I felt, spoke at each other. Season three, I feel, you find characters actually speaking to each other listening and having a conversation.
I’d have a hard time disagreeing with Whittle about what I saw on the screen. The decline in quality between season one and two is also reflected in the reviews. Season one earned a 92% Fresh rating with critics and an 84% positive score with viewers. Compare that to Season two’s 58% Rotten rating with critics and a 67% positive rating with audiences.
Whittle also spoke to the diversity behind the camera and in the writer’s room this season making a huge impact.
“The writing has just been incredible and if you look at our cast, it’s very diverse. What we were able to facilitate this season was have that diversity off camera, behind the camera, in that writing room and what they did was create a writing room that was roughly 10% cisgender straight white male and the rest was female, black, Latin, native, LGBTQ, formerly incarcerated, biracial and what that does is give you authentic representation telling true stories. It’s about inclusivity, about representation and about those voices giving us the voices.”
It’ll be interesting to see how season 3 of American Gods fares overall and if Whittle is right about a more diverse writer’s room and Gaiman’s focused efforts on the show paying dividends. It’s certainly worth noting that the author’s other recently adapted work, Good Omens, which he wrote all the screenplays for, fared much better with critics and audiences alike, garnering an 82% Fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 93% positive audience score.
But what do you think? Have you been enjoying American Gods this season or are you a lapsed fan looking for a reason to return? Let us know in the comments below or on Discord.