A version of this story about “American Gods” first appeared in The Race Begins issue of TheWrap Emmy Magazine.
When Neil Gaiman wrote “American Gods” in 2001, he could not have predicted the television adaptation of his beloved novel would be released under a Donald Trump presidency.
Even the showrunners, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, completed the show before the Republican took office and immediately called for a travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries.
“The show was written in a progressive political climate, and is airing in an insane one,” Fuller said. “Our intent with the series was never to be political — it was to accurately represent and present the themes of the book and the story of [leading character] Shadow Moon on his journey from nonbeliever to believer. We didn’t change, the country changed.”
The series portrays a war between the old gods of biblical and mythological roots and a new group of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. But immigration, in the form of vignettes called “Coming to America” set throughout various periods in U.S. history, is also a central theme, and is more relevant than ever in Trump’s America.
“We can’t claim to have held any sort of political agenda while making the show, because when we were writing the scripts, it was really about exploring the themes without inflammatory intentions,” Fuller said. “But because the current administration is so vehemently anti-immigrant, and we are telling compassionate stories about immigrants, we will be louder than we would have been in a progressive administration. We would much rather have a quieter show in a progressive administration, but that’s not up to us.”
With rare exceptions, Green added, nothing was changed as a result of Trump’s election.
“There was one sequence in particular, for our sixth episode, which introduces the god Vulcan, who is the volcano god of the forge,” he said. “Our interpolation of him included [making him the] god of guns… We were going to meet him and hear him speak after a funeral. The majority of the footage had his town of worshippers in funeral expressions and funeral clothes, but we ended up favoring footage that showed them listening to their god with a sense of euphoria. And we realized we were looking at something that looked a bit like a Trump rally.
“The louder someone was screaming at them, the more heads started to nod. So there may have been some unconscious or conscious or really conscious attempts to favor that footage.”
Go here to read more of The Race Begins issue of TheWrap Emmy Magazine.