American Gods season 2's ratings have fell sharply, like Icarus plummeting earthwards. The season 2 premiere's ratings (0.52 million) were a third smaller than the season 1 finale (0.774 million), and one-third of that shrunk audience didn't return for the second episode of season 2, with the viewership declining steadily ever since (the latest episode only scored 0.336 million viewers).
Based on the award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman, American Gods tells the story of a man named Shadow Moon and how he is drawn into the conflict between the gods of the Old World and the New World gods that draw power from forces like Technology or Globalization. The first season was a smash hit with both critics and viewers, earning a 92% fresh rating from critics and an 84% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The second season hasn't fared as well, dropping to a 55% fresh rating with critics and a 79% audience score.
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While still viewed favorably, American Gods is, much like many of its Old God characters, not nearly as impressive as it once was. There are a variety of reasons for the dramatic downturn in the show's fortunes, ranging from production delays that sapped the series' momentum to behind-the-scenes drama over a change in management. This has left the fate of the show up in the air, with many wondering if it will now see Neil Gaiman's prophecized six seasons and a spin-off based on the follow-up novel Anansi Boys.
- This Page: American Gods Season 2's Delays, Production Issues & Recasting
- Page 2: American Gods Season 2's Quality Drop & The Show's Weirdness
American Gods Season 2 Took Too Long To Return & Had Major Production Issues
Season 2 of American Gods premiered on March 10, 2019. This was the better part of two years after season 1 concluded in June of 2017. While this wait is comparable to that between the last two seasons of Game of Thrones, American Gods does not have so large an established fan-base as the HBO fantasy series and faces a greater challenge in holding its audience's interest. American Gods also had a vastly different reason for its delays than the longer shooting schedule required for Game of Thrones season 8.
The troubles for American Gods began shortly after the end of season 1, when the original executive producers and showrunners Michael Green and Bryan Fuller quit. The two reportedly had a disagreement with Freemantle Media and Starz regarding concerns over the amount of time it was taking to write the scripts for season 2. There was also a clash over the show's budget, which was apparently planned to be dramatically cut after season 1 went $30 million over-budget.
Ironically, the departure of Green and Fuller would only aggravate the issues Starz and Freemantle Media had with their management of American Gods. Production on season 2 was further delayed as the network searched for a new showrunner, which only served to further drain the budget and slow the writing of new scripts. Jesse Alexander (an executive producer on Lost and Alias) was brought in to manage the mess American Gods had become, but he was not any better at satisfying the Powers That Be. Alexander was fired some six months after he had accepted the job, apparently locked out of the studio and denied the right to oversee the final editing and effects work on season 2.
American Gods' Ensemble Doesn't Have Many Big Name Actors (And Many Have Left)
Shortly after Green and Fuller stepped down as showrunners on American Gods, actress Gillian Anderson, who played the role of the New God Media, announced that she was leaving the show as well. Kristin Chenoweth, who played the goddess of spring, Ostara, followed suit shortly thereafter. Both actresses were fiercely loyal to Fuller, having previously worked with him on the series Hannibal and Pushing Daisies respectively.
The departure of Anderson and Chenoweth can be tied directly to American Gods' declining ratings in season 2. Both actresses possess fanatical followings, who will watch anything they are involved in. Doubtlessly many of these fans saw no reason to continue watching once the two actresses left the show.
This points to another problem that American Gods' has had in maintaining its audience - a lack of central star power. While the show possesses a fantastic ensemble containing some talented actors, few of them had the same devout fanbase as Chenoweth or Anderson. The ensemble-driven narrative of American Gods has done little to help this, with some of the biggest names tied to the show only appearing in one or two episodes before exiting the narrative.