American Gods sets up a war between the old gods – Ancient Egyptian gods of the underworld, Middle Eastern ifrits, Slavic deities – and the “New Gods” like Technical Boy and Media.
But Neil Gaiman fans have wondered for years: where is Christianity in this battle? After all, when it comes to religion in America, Jesus is about as worshipped as you can get. By the logic of American Gods he should be thriving in this “one nation under God”.
Whatever way this is going to work out, Jesus makes his first appearance in episode six, trying to protect a group of desperate Mexican immigrants.
Does Jesus appear in the American Gods novel?
Gaiman never actually introduces us to Jesus in the novel. But we do find out something about him, when Mr Wednesday explains: “You’ve got your White, Jesuit-style Jesus, your Black African Jesus, your Mexican Jesus, and your swarthy Greek Jesus… There’s a lot of need for Jesus, so there is a lot of Jesus.”
Mr Jacquel later refers to Jesus as a “lucky son of a virgin”. He adds: “Lucky, lucky guy. He could fall in a cesspit and come up smelling like roses.”
But while most of the ancient gods in the novel have been brought to America and then struggled to thrive, Jesus has the opposite problem.
Mr Jacquel tells Shadow: “Jesus does pretty good over here. But I met a guy who said he saw him hitchhiking by the side of the road in Afghanistan and nobody was stopping to give him a ride. You know? It all depends on where you are.”
How will Jesus appear in the American Gods TV series?
The producers have taken Gaiman’s idea of lots of different forms of Jesus and run with it. Ernesto Reyes plays Mexican Jesus, while Jeremy Davies is White Jesus, Fode Bangoura is Black Jesus, Justin Sanchez is Hippie Jesus and Joel Chico is Asian Jesus.
Aside from his first entrance as Mexican Jesus, walking on water and trying to protect his believers, it also sounds like Christ will have a storyline with Ostara, otherwise known as Easter.
Played by Kristin Chenoweth, the ancient goddess of Ostara apparently “harbours some deeply buried resentment” over having to share the Easter holiday with this upstart newcomer.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller explained to Variety: “There are so many different perspectives on who Jesus Christ was and is in the hearts of those who worship him, so that I think it’s interesting to say to Christians that your Jesus [pointing] is different from your Jesus.”
American Gods is available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, with new episodes added every week. Episodes air on US channel Starz on Sunday nights