‘American Gods’ Loses Another Showrunner Amid Reports of On-Set Turmoil
Oh, American Gods. The first season of Starz’s ambitious Neil Gaiman adaptation took a few episodes to get going, but once it did, it was electric. Then came the firing of showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, who were reportedly going over budget as they headed into Season 2. Now, as filming nears completion on the second season, American Gods has lost another showrunner, with Jesse Alexander departing the series amid reports of creative differences and on-set screaming matches.
The Hollywood Reporter published an extensive story on the troubled (to say the least) production of American Gods Season 2, which is set to debut new footage at New York Comic Con — despite the loss of yet another showrunner, and despite the fact that the final episode of the new season has yet to be filmed. According to the report, Alexander is “no longer working on the hyper-stylized drama as a writer or showrunner, and has been asked not to sit in on editing, be involved on set or participate in any other areas of production or postproduction,” meaning he was fired — though Starz refrained from using that exact term.
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green served as showrunners on Season 1 of the series, based on the Neil Gaiman fantasy novel of the same name. The former Hannibal showrunner vastly improved on the source material, but encountered some issues with the network heading into Season 2, as it looked like Fuller and Green were taking the show over budget — not surprising, given that it’s a fairly ambitious series involving mythical gods — and Gaiman was said to be unhappy with the changes to his source material. Co-star Gillian Anderson followed Fuller out the door, and per THR, that was just the beginning of what’s become a tumultuous production.
Starz replaced Fuller and Green with Jesse Alexander, who was said to be more amenable to Gaiman’s vision — not exactly the most promising development, in my opinion. An adaptation must, well, adapt in its transition to another medium; what makes for good reading doesn’t always make for good viewing.
Alexander’s approach, though more to Gaiman’s liking, wasn’t well-received by the cast and crew — particularly Ian McShane, who is said to have engaged in screaming matches with Alexander on-set. Many involved were determined to maintain Fuller and Green’s style, and even the studio began to realize that firing them might have been a mistake:
The premium cable network, sources say, balked at [Alexander’s] evolution, and wanted more of the atmospheric, hypnotic tone that Green and Fuller had created.
Hindsight is, unfortunately, always 20/20. Fuller and Green may have been taking the series over budget in Season 2, but quality isn’t exactly cheap. And it seems that the fans weren’t the only ones disturbed by the pair’s firing, as Starz reportedly had a difficult time finding someone to replace them. Per THR, “many potential showrunners turned down the job” in a show of support for Fuller and Green.
For now, production on American Gods has been placed on “hiatus,” though Starz still intends on debuting the first footage from Season 2 at New York Comic-Con. In an official statement, a spokesperson for the network said, “We are confident that when the fans get their first look at season two in just a few weeks at New York Comic-Con, they will agree it was worth the wait.” Partner Fremantle Media echoed this bizarre optimism in its own statement:
We stand by our network partner’s statement and share in their confidence that season two will exceed expectations. Our cast and crew are extremely passionate about the show and have delivered something that remains loyal to the source material and true to the creative vision of Neil Gaiman. We think fans will feel the same when we share a first look at New York Comic-Con in a few weeks.
Do you even want to see a second season of American Gods at this point? Personally, my interest in the series fell drastically once Fuller and Green were fired, and this report has only validated my concerns that Gaiman’s involvement is a problem. (Also, can Netflix or Amazon just throw a giant pile of cash at Bryan Fuller and just let him do whatever he wants? Sheesh.)