'American Gods' Locks In New Showrunner

American Gods Ricky Whittle Ian McShane

‘Hannibal’ alum Jesse Alexander will redo the foundations that Bryan Fuller and Michael Green set up for ‘American Gods’ Season 2.

The search for a new American Gods showrunner is over. Since Bryan Fuller and Michael Green‘s abrupt departure from the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s mythological Americana epic, there has been a mad scramble to fill their shoes. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Jesse Alexander (Hannibal, Star Trek: Discovery) will head American Gods from now on, and will be working closely with Gaiman himself.

Gaiman tells THR:

“I’m thrilled that Jesse is [the] showrunner. He loves and understands the book, he loves and understands the TV series and he’s dedicated to making future seasons of ‘American Gods’ as good and as beautiful and as unique as they can be. Shadow’s journey is going to take him, and Mr. Wednesday, and the New Gods and the Old, to some very strange places. I’m glad that we, and the cast and crew, will have Jesse shepherding us on the way.”

Switching showrunners has not historically been the most promising sign of cohesion in shows. However, at least Alexander is joining American Gods early enough in its life cycle, and will apparently stay for the long term too. Alexander also has a good idea of how Fuller shows work. Fuller’s Hannibal adaptation remained a thoroughly holistic show throughout its three-season run. Hannibal might have been an absurd experience — a very different take compared to Thomas Harris’ original novels or the various films based on them — but it was singular and unified. Furthermore, Alexander also co-executive produced and wrote on Heroes. While not a Fuller show, and ultimately more underwhelming in comparison to its ambitions, Heroes banked on an array of unique characters much like American Gods has. So creatively speaking, fans don’t have to despair.

Despite American Gods being so vital to Starz’s programming in the last year, season 2 has always been a bumpy ride. An initial lack of commitment to Gaiman’s source material was reportedly a big reason for the clash between Fuller and Green, Fremantle and Gaiman himself. The situation was exacerbated by the rumored money issues; Fuller and Green were asking for more financial backing to create the season 2 of their dreams.

Imagination usually has to be placed on a budget with adaptations, and that’s exactly what happened with American Gods. THR notes that although there were multiple rewrites done in the lead-up to the original showrunners leaving American Gods, Fremantle would be scrapping those scripts anyway to give way to Alexander’s vision of the show. This also means a further delayed release date; American Gods season 2 was thought to premiere in January next year but at this time, the estimate is far too optimistic. Finally, there are reports of a reduced episode count for Season 2 to keep within budgetary constraints.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht sums up everything up by noting:

“It’s not ideal to have 18 months or two years between seasons. It’s not an inexpensive show. Budget is always a factor. There needs [to be] a vision that can be executed on a regular basis.”

Well-loved television shows can eventually become boring and irrelevant if too much time passes between seasons, especially if the quality of a show discernibly decreases. Just look at what happened with hyped-up shows of fandoms past like Sherlock that once thrived despite a new series premiering every two years. In the end, the method wasn’t sustainable, nor did actual Sherlock episodes remain up to scratch in the last two seasons. We have to hope that American Gods will do better than that even with its own delays.

But all in all, the silver lining is that no one is cutting the cord on American Gods just yet. Season 2 (and possibly beyond) will happen. We’re just not sure when it will see the light of day.

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