Kim Fetherston ‘22
It’s not often that the movie or television adaptation of a book is as good as the source material, so the BBC’s and Amazon’s Good Omens is a treat for fans of the book and those who have never read it alike. Consisting of six, hour-long episodes directed by Douglas Mackinnon, Good Omens is an easy binge full of lighthearted reminders that people are neither inherently good nor bad and social commentary that is just as relevant today as it was when the book was originally published in 1990.
The show follows the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) as they try to work together to prevent Armageddon, which is supposed to be started by the Antichrist (Sam Taylor) that the two have inconveniently lost. Along the way, viewers gain insight into the history of Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship and their time on Earth, as well as how the two of them have come to work together despite all odds. Aziraphale isn’t a perfect angel, he’s indulgent, a bit too independent of a thinker, and a bit too kind, much to the chagrin of his superiors who want nothing more than for Armageddon to happen so they can wipe out Hell. Crowley isn’t a perfect demon either, he’s too nice and much too attached to the world to help it to come to an end. In a way, Aziraphale and Crowley have become too human from their time spent on earth and so much of their story comes from a desire not to fit in with their respective “homes,” but rather to do what they think is right for themselves and the world.
The moments in which the show delivers commentary on social or political endeavors are pointed, with critiques on the increased use of nuclear energy, whaling, and the infrastructure around London. These were all written into the book, either as something the Antichrist decides to put an end to or as something that was created by demons. (The authors of the book seem to harbor a particular resentment for the M25 and its traffic patterns around London.) However, some commentary came out only in the show, with Adam and Eve (Anthony Kaye and Schelaine Bennett) played by black actors and God (Frances McDormand) voiced by a woman. These casting decisions angered some people to the point that they petitioned Netflix, the wrong streaming service, to stop streaming it. Gaiman poked fun at the petition in a tweet from June 19, 2019, where he joked about not telling those who signed the petition that they were asking the wrong streaming service.
Neil Gaiman, co-author of the original book and showrunner, has made it very clear that as much as this show is a work of love for all the fans who have supported the book throughout the years, he really pushed for this adaptation to be as accurate as it is for the late Terry Pratchett, the co-author who passed away from Alzheimers in 2015. Pratchett had always wanted to see the book adapted for the screen, which Gaiman made his mission after, in his own words at a talk this past summer at Rutgers University: “Terry rather inconsiderately died.” The show is a love letter to all that the two of them did together in writing this cult-classic, and in creating it, Gaiman and Mackinnon have doubtless sparked a love for it in a whole new generation.