Neil Gaiman’s news today that he and Douglas Mackinnon are showrunning an adaptation of Anansi Boys for Amazon is exciting. How exciting? In my opinion, very exciting!
This isn’t the first adaption of Gaiman’s work we’ve seen recently (or will see in the future). Starz put out three seasons of American Gods, which is loosely based on Gaiman’s eponymous novel; Amazon is producing a second season of his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens; and Netflix has an adaptation of his Sandman comic book series in the works.
Adding Anansi Boys to the roster of Gaiman stories making their way to the small screen is a wonderful thing. Here are five reasons I think it’s wonderful, and why I think you’ll be excited about this news as well.
Gaiman and Mackinnon Are Showrunning
Gaiman and Mackinnon were both directly involved, as showrunner and director respectively, in Amazon’s adaptation of Good Omens. I was one of those people who loved reading Good Omens but worried how it could successfully be made for TV. Gaiman and MacKinnon, however, hit it out of the park, capturing the spirit of Gaiman and Pratchett’s work and adding to it in ways that only made it better. (Exhibit A: Jon Hamm as Gabriel. Exhibit B: Crowley (David Tennant) and Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) love each other!)
Gaiman in control also means that it will be made in a way that properly reflects the book. In a blog post, Gaiman shared a horrifying yet all-too-believable story about how a Hollywood director wanted the rights to Anansi Boys but wanted to make the cast all white. Taking a story about two sons of a West African spider-god and making everyone white is, in a word, bad. Such missteps (a mild word for it) won’t happen under Gaiman’s watch.
We Might Get Orlando Jones Back as Anansi
While Amazon’s Anansi Boys has no connection with the Starz adaptation of Gaiman’s American Gods, I really hope we get to see Orlando Jones reprise his role as Anansi on the new series. There was a lot of things that lost me in that adaption, especially the later seasons. Jones’ performance as the trickster god Anansi, however, absolutely wasn’t one of them.
Jones isn’t in the latest season of American Gods at all, in fact. It would be great to have him come back to the role instead on Amazon’s Anansi Boys, although his part in the story is relatively minimal, with his sons instead taking the focus.
The Anansi Brothers Are a Great Odd Couple
Much like Aziraphale and Crowley in Good Omens, the two Anansi brothers are very different. Fat Charlie is a rather drab Londoner who doesn’t even know he’s the son of a god until his father dies. Spider, however, has some of his dad’s powers and has no problem causing his own mischief, especially for Fat Charlie.
This odd-couple setup is something that Gaiman does particularly well, and I have no doubt that his rendition of them in the Amazon show will be equally compelling.
The Book (and Presumably the Show) Has Something for Everyone
Anansi Boys is one of those books that’s hard to pigeonhole in one genre. It’s a fun tale, and a dark one. An intimate story about family, and a tale full of murder and intrigue. No matter what you enjoy in your television, chances are there will be elements of it in Amazon’s Anansi Boys. And yes, I have high hopes that the creative team will keep the story from getting too muddled between all these things.
The Anansi Boys Go Places
Gaiman also hinted in his blog post that the initial plan was to have the show follow the Anansi boys across the globe (and most likely places in between). COVID-19 threw a wrench into that vision, but Gaiman also hinted that Mackinnon came up with a grand plan to get around that, which involves new-fangled technology. As the skilled storywriter he is, Gaiman’s teasing description makes me insanely curious to find out what they’re doing.
Sadly, however, we’ll most likely have to wait a bit to find out, as we don’t know when Anansi Boys will make its way to Amazon.
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Author: Vanessa Armstrong
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July 21, 2021