The second season of American Gods is falling into mayhem


American Gods season 2 might take longer than expected with the loss of yet another showrunner and complications on set.

It’s not looking good for the magical cerebral Starz series, American Gods, based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. After a fairly successful first season, the series quickly got picked up for a second, but that was before showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green said goodbye and packed their bags after financial disputes. When Fuller and Green left, Neil Gaiman and Jesse Alexander, the screenwriter who worked with Fuller on both Hannibal and Star Trek: Discovery, were announced as their replacements.

However, that’s no longer the case, as Alexander announced his departure from the show earlier this month.

Just as Fuller and Green had been pushed out, it appears that Alexander was, as Hollywood Reporter puts it, “fired, but not fired.” Script problems and other issues had Jesse Alexander shoved to the sidelines and had been asked not to involve himself with the duties of writing or running the show, including giving input on the editing process or participating on set.

Alexander had reportedly turned in seven drafts for the eighth and final episode of the season, but executives rejected them all, upset about his attempt to guide the series “in a more conventional direction.” What this conventional direction was I’m not sure, nothing about American Gods was conventional. They hired Alexander because they wanted someone they could control, who would drive the series in the direction that they wanted, but evidently that wasn’t happening.

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Supposedly, Gaiman has been vying for control over the show for some time and wanted to run it his way. Fuller and Green did a tremendous job with season one, but apparently their season two plans were diverting away from the novel, which if you’re a Mad Sweeney fan would have been a good thing. Gaiman didn’t want his story changed and worked to get the two out. That issue, combined with Fuller’s demand for a higher budget, made the push out possible.

The author reportedly “hand-picked” Jesse Alexander to co-run the series beside him but changed his mind when he realized Alexander wouldn’t do as he was told.

Hollywood Reporter says,

"“sources note that Fremantle, the show’s studio, would rather exile Alexander than endure the negative attention that would come with dismissing a second showrunner in two seasons. Multiple sources cited ongoing friction between Starz and Fremantle, as well as efforts by author [Neil] Gaiman to assert greater control over the drama, as the core sources of tension.”"

Can’t this show catch a break? Such an incredible story shouldn’t have to go through all this drama.

Now, producing director Chris Byrne and line producer Lisa Kussner are reportedly in charge, but that doesn’t mean the problems are solved. They wish firing showrunners was their only issue. Originally, the studio wanted season two to have a smaller budget after the millions that season one spent per episode, however they’re now upping the money to be spent because of a dull script that has been rewritten to the point of exhaustion.

Hoping to fix their problems with special effects and camera work, they’ve been forced to expand the budget on an already very expensive show, because “now they’re spending to spice up what was flat on the page.”

Actors are also rewriting their own script pages to keep the dialogue more in line with the original vision, a project that influenced “screaming matches” between actor Ian McShane and Jesse Alexander. Everything is falling apart.

All this sounds bad considering they’ve already started production for season two. The actors have gathered and from a sneak peek video teasing season two, we can see that they’ve begun filming the carousel scene, and if you read the book than you already know what an important scene that is.

To make matters worse, there is more bad news regarding Easter, Goddess of spring and rebirth played by Kristen Chenoweth. After Anderson left the show, Chenoweth expressed doubts about her own return. Back in June it was suggested that she would be returning, but then scheduling conflicts prevented her from doing so. Unless someone pulls some strings and moves their calendar around, we’ve lost Easter. NOO!!

Neil Gaiman

If any of these showrunner firings have a common denominator, it’s the author of the source material, Neil Gaiman. Even though he willingly sold his rights to Fremantle Media and accepted the possibility that the story might get changed, he’s decided to ignore that and put himself in charge. I don’t want to insult anybody, but Great Scott!! Did you not know what selling your rights meant Neil? It means you no longer own it. Stop getting people fired.

However, I’m not on the set so I don’t know the whole story. For all I know Starz approached Gaiman and asked him to fix it. He created the story and may know what direction it’d be best suited for, but, in the case of American Gods I personally think the series improved upon the book. Improved on it greatly. But that’s my own opinion, others might not share it.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 20: Writer Neil Gaiman attends the premiere of Starz’s ‘American Gods’ at the ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 20, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 20: Writer Neil Gaiman attends the premiere of Starz’s ‘American Gods’ at the ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on April 20, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) /

Is anyone keeping score? What has happened to American Gods? Let’s list them: they’ve lost Bryan Fuller, they’ve lost Michael Green, Gillian Anderson quit and they’ve had to recast her role as Media, they’ve been given a smaller budget, had to throw out completed scripts for six episodes written by Fuller, had to rewrite Alexander’s scripts, lost another showrunner, are burying themselves in a special effects budget and now are asking the actors to polish the scripts. Talk about drama, and there’s probably more we don’t know about.

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I want the show to get back on its feet because I enjoyed it. Who knows, maybe letting Gaiman take over completely will be a good thing. He did create the story after all, but I still miss Fuller. Though, judging by his patterns, Fuller would have left the show eventually anyway; the man can’t seem to stay on a show longer than a year.

In less painful news, Kahyum Kim has been hired as Gillian Anderson’s replacement, Dean Winters has been added to the show as a God named Mr. Town and Devery Jacobs has been added as a college student Sam Black Crow.

Season two is expected to air in early 2019, that is if delays don’t push it back any further.