Me and My Shadow…
First off, let’s get the adulation and adoration out of the way. I really enjoy your American Gods podcast (even when i disagree with you) and only wish it was longer. I’m a fan of Shat/Movies too, especially when you love movies I hate (cough cough PeeWee…) and when I need a good pick me up I pull up the Spaceballs episode to hear everyone hyperventilate and giggle like a bunch 16 year old girls on nitrous. Works every time.
Now on to the topic at hand. Shadow Moon. I was stoked to hear you reference his book character (or lack thereof) in episode 4, because I think a lot of folks who haven’t read the source material are missing out on how Gaiman wrote Shadow (confession- I freaking love this book and I’ve read it several times). He is empty. He is a true believer, with nothing to believe in. After the death of his mom he was a blank, until he met Laura and latched on to her. Even his name harkens to that – a shadow is nothing, it’s doesn’t have a form of its own. It only exists to show you the shape of something else. And “Moon”- the moon has no light of its own, only the reflected light of the sun. It revolves around us, brightens our darkness, but not by its own power. But that passive power of the moon, being trapped in Earth’s orbit, affects us too. The gods, as we see, are affected by their believers. Shadow isn’t supposed to be a protagonist on the sense of “the guy /gal who makes the action happen”, he is the empty vessel that all these beliefs and gods and miracles are put into and shaken around in, and maybe something interesting comes out of that mess.
Now, in season 2, we are finally starting to see how his evolving beliefs are leading him but he still can’t find a direction of his own (and yeah, episode 3 was a shitshow. I’ll agree with that). He needs a light, he needs something to reflect. He doesn’t have that inside himself, no matter how much his mom tried to instill it in him (ps, did you notice in episode 2 who gave him that trick coin?)
Contrast that to Laura. She is the true non-believer. A nihilist, a cynic, and empty in her own right. She is almost a caricature of an atheist. She has no center, no depth. She seeks out danger and self harm to feel anything. But whereas Shadow is a seeker, she has never looked any further than herself. The scenes of her alive show Laura living as if she was already dead. She is practically a zombie before the fellatio-induced car crash. When she does finally feel alive, in the case of her heart beating when Shadow kisses her, she confuses that with an emotional connection to Shadow and latches on to him like she has (sorry for this) been “shown the light” and becomes a zealot. Now she’s following the follower. And there is nobody as zealous as an former atheist who has had a “religious” experience. (FYI, I’m an atheist, but was raised Catholic. Totally not bashing here, but some of the most fervently religious people I know are former atheists or at least hard agnostics).
I could rave about Bilquis (yum) and Anansi (Orlando Jones is a freaking miracle) and how great the actor who plays Technical Boy is (it’s probably really hard to play a character that is that big of an asshat with a straight face), or how much I love it when Crispin Glover really brings the weirdness…But, in parting, let me just raise a glass to my favorite fighting leprechaun, Mad Sweeney. That bar fight in season one with Iko Iko on the jukebox is one of my favorite TV moments ever, and every time he calls Laura “deadwife” or says something nasty about her I giggle.
Ok, that’s enough from me. Keep up the awesome work, I hope you have as much fun making your pods as I do listening to them. Best wishes from beautiful SLC, UT.
Team Old Gods. All the way.
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