“American Gods” Season 2 is coming soon to Starz, and while rumors of chaos behind the scenes have made news over the past year, executive producer Neil Gaiman says that the returning show “still looks and feels like ‘American Gods.'”
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, the original showrunners of the Starz drama based on Gaiman’s book, left the series after completing Season 1 and writing scripts for a second season; they were succeeded by “Heroes” executive producer Jesse Alexander, who reportedly left the series at the end of Season 2.
At the Television Critics Association press tour, Gaiman pointed to the continued work of second unit director Chris Byrne as one reason why the show “feels like the same show that we had in Season 1.” Also a factor was, in Gaiman’s words, the “amazing actors” who continued with the series, including Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, and Orlando Jones.
McShane, an executive producer who also plays the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (AKA old god Odin), spoke passionately about how the new season was “a great way back to the book, which we’d gotten away from in Season 1. We needed to get back to the line of the book which is Shadow and his story.”
While Season 1 guest stars Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenowith (both of whom came on board for the show after previously working with Fuller on other series) won’t be returning for Season 2, Gaiman said that given the plot of the original novel, in future seasons “we’re going to meet Easter [Chenowith’s character] again — whether we get Kristin or someone else is another question.”
As for Anderson, who personified the many faces of the god Media, Gaiman noted the choice to replace her character with the god of New Media (played by new cast addition Kahyun Kim) fit in terms of updating the show for the times. “Gillian Anderson was glorious,” Gaiman said, but having Media represented in the form of personas like Judy Garland and Lucy Ricardo “doesn’t really feel like anything that’s relevant to anyone under the age of 25 who’s interested in media.”
Also teased in the panel was the continued development of the awkward love story between Shadow (Whittle) and his one-time adulterous, now dead, wife Laura (Browning) — as well as the developing relationship between Laura and Mad Sweeney (Schreiber).
“I got to work with Emily pretty much every day, which made my season,” Schreiber said during the panel, noting that the change in producers led to some “difficult conditions,” but “regardless of all the changes in Season 1 and Season 2, rather than becoming fractured the cast came together and did outstanding work.”
Gaiman also promised that Episode 7 of Season 2 would capture centuries of Mad Sweeney’s backstory, and that the season would showcase a predecessor of the frightening god Technology Boy — Telephone Boy (who, in turn, was preceded by Telegraph Boy). In addition, “Mr. Wednesday tells a story that may even be true, about running a burlesque house in the 1930s and the death of Thor.”
As for the character of Shadow, Gaiman said that Season 1 “thematically tended to be ‘weird shit happens and then Shadow goes, ‘what the fuck is going on?'” Meanwhile, in Season 2, “Shadow’s figuring out what’s going on, and weird shit is still happening — but he’s actually learning what’s happening.”
“American Gods” Season 2 premieres Sunday, March 10 at 8 p.m.