Is season 3 the end of ‘American Gods’? Why Starz should save the show
The adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s doorstopper novel American Gods is finally getting the ax on Starz. After what The Hollywood Reporter called a “troubled” three seasons, the series is wrapping up with either a final season or a movie after season 3 ends.
Starz released a statement regarding their decision to cancel the show: “American Gods will not return for a fourth season. Everyone at Starz is grateful to the dedicated cast and crew, and our partners at Fremantle who brought author and executive producer Neil Gaiman’s ever-relevant story to life that speaks to the cultural climate of our country.”
So what made Starz give American Gods the ax after season 3? Let’s dive in.
The source material, a monster novel by Neil Gaiman, has a plethora of plot threads that could make for a compelling show. The book follows Shadow after he’s released from prison. He’s picked up by a mysterious figure in white, named Mr. Wednesday, who shows Shadow a nether world of old gods in the U.S.
These old gods must battle with the “new gods” of technology and material gain in an epic showdown to preserve magic & goodness in the world. Or rather, that’s what Mr. Wednesday would have Shadow believe as he’s often used as his unwitting pawn. The waters are murky in the book, and the battle can ultimately be read as a “lesser of two evils” situation.
American Gods shines a light on the divorced nature of spirituality & materialism in American culture. Using forgotten gods and run-down roadside sites, Gaiman speaks to changing landscapes in America and the shadowy nature of change and cultural divides. We could honestly write a book on the thematic elements and symbolism, so we weren’t surprised when Starz came knocking to make this book a TV show.
Although Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is worth the read, viewers didn’t think the show was worth the watch. Amid lackluster reviews after season 3’s finale last week, executives decided to pull the plug. Before season 3, American Gods’s ratings overall slid to 65% per The Hollywood Reporter – as well as a 45% rating nose-dive between the first & second seasons.
Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch reportedly hung onto hope through season 3 that American Gods would find an audience, but no dice. Plus, internal struggles led to a dim future for the show even before season 3’s depressing ratings. Reportedly, American Gods went through four showrunners in three seasons and didn’t hit its target audience.
It also seemed like American Gods was doomed long before season 3, or even season 1, was greenlit. HBO reportedly got the rights to the show in 2011 around the same time it released Game of Thrones. They approved the show for ten episodes under Tom Hanks’s Playtone banner. However, multiple rewrites ultimately doomed the show until Starz picked it up.
Gods don’t die unless they’re forgotten #believe #AmericanGods #Neilgaiman #ShadowMoon #letsfinishthis pic.twitter.com/qm8sl3cp83
— Ricky Whittle (@MrRickyWhittle) March 30, 2021
There’s hope for Neil Gaiman fans, though, as more of his work has been adapted and is still going strong. Gaiman’s The Sandman series is being adapted by Netflix. The cast has been announced and it includes “Tom Sturridge, Gwendoline Christie, Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry, and Sanjeev Bhaskar” per Deadline.
Season 3 also isn’t the end for American Gods. Starz is in talks to send off the series with either an event series or a TV movie, picking up at the cliffhanger season 3 left us in (no spoilers)!
The star of the show has even tweeted about the cancellation. Shadow himself, Ricky Whittle, thanked the cast, crew, the brass at Starz, and Neil Gaiman for letting him shine in American Gods. He also vowed to fans that he was committed to giving American Gods a proper send-off beyond season 3, captioning his tweet “gods don’t die unless they’re forgotten”.
“This has been an amazing journey thus far and I am so grateful to my fellow cast and crew who have worked so hard on this award-winning show. We have the best fans around the world and thank each of you for your passion and support, so know that Neil Gaiman, Fremantle myself and the cast are still committed to completing Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed story.”