This autumn, I found myself setting an impromptu goal: to consume as much Neil Gaiman content as possible. Truthfully, I’ve never watched or read anything from him, despite his extensive list of notable film and television works such as “Coraline,” “American Gods” and “The Sandman.” But rather than start there, I found myself beginning with the television adaptation of his first novel, “Good Omens,” whose second television season was released at the end of July. And it was an absolute delight to experience.
In less than a month, this show has impacted me in a way that very few pieces of media have. The worldbuilding is deeply interesting, intertwined with elements of Christianity to make insightful commentary and observations about our own world. The cast is large and ragingly LGBTQIA+ in the best way, including our two time-transcending leads, Aziraphale and Crowley, portrayed by Michael Sheen and David Tennant respectively. Who could want for more?
So allow me to share my collective thoughts and some information about “Good Omens,” and why it should be moved up to the top of your ‘To Watch’ list. (And for those of you who might be curious: no, I haven’t read the book yet and thus, will not be talking about it much. I’m very sorry, but alas, I’m a very busy college student.)
To set the stage, our story is mainly set in modern-day London with a few trips around Europe and the Middle East. In season one, we follow the story of Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, as they work together to stop the Antichrist from ending the world. It’s largely plot-driven and incorporates several elements from the world Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett originally wrote about in the 1990 novel.
Throughout the first season, we meet a diverse cast of characters: a prophecy-following witch, a nerd who’s ironically terrible with computers, a witch hunter, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse themselves, and of course, the Antichrist and his gang of friends. The show juggles a lot of people and overlapping storylines that all culminate into a grand finale, but Aziraphale and Crowley remain the focal point of it all.
Throughout the characters' respective plots, the audience learns that Heaven and Hell aren’t completely black and white. Each side is completely focused on following God’s Great Plan, which says the world will end with an epic battle between them. They’re willing to do just about anything to make it happen, even things that aren’t in line with what we usually think angels and demons would do.
This is especially apparent in season two, where life miraculously continues on after the end of the world. Unlike season one, the newest season is more character-driven than plot-driven – specifically by those who come from up above and down below.
By allowing the audience to spend more time with these centuries-old characters, we’re able to learn how gray their morals are (and costuming for that matter), and how they exist within those in-betweens (such as many of the humans do in the first season). There were multiple scenes within the newest season that made my brows crease with confusion or raise with shock. Each episode made me ponder deeply about every dilemma that was presented, the mark of a well-crafted show.
The show is profoundly reflective of real life, as its people are increasingly complex and cannot be perfectly defined by one thing or another. Rather than use Christianity to make a statement about the religion itself, “Good Omens” utilizes it as a backdrop to Aziraphale and Crowley’s story. It also presents well-known biblical stories in a way that’s approachable to everyone by observing it through an innately human lens. It’s an interesting viewpoint that I thoroughly enjoyed, as it doesn't excessively discredit or reframe its source material.
Because at the end of the day, the story of “Good Omens” is woven around an angel and demon, and how their 6000 year old arrangement has morphed over time – which brings me to my next point.
It’s no secret that Neil Gaiman purposefully writes LGBTQIA+ characters into several of his works. In an interview with CBR about the overwhelming amount of representation in “The Sandman,” Gaiman explained that he included so many LGBTQIA+ characters because “they [are] my friends and I wanted “Sandman” to reflect the world that I lived in.”
The same sentiment rings true in “Good Omens,” especially since Gaiman has answered through multiple questions across Tumblr and Twitter that he views all of his angels and devils to be genderfluid. While Crowley and Aziraphale are male-presenting for the majority of the show, there are moments where they are female-presenting (refer to previous sources). Aside from the gender binary, there are some characters that identify as neither such as Crowley’s boss, Beezlebub, and an angel named Muriel.
And of course, the fascinating relationship between our two main characters, Crowley and Aziraphale. Between the first and second season, the audience experiences their pushes and pulls over various situations since the beginning of time. It’s intensely enthralling – especially when something else is running between them.
Fans have also noted that Gaiman’s writing of queer representation feels so naturally and effortlessly woven into the narrative, a sentiment that cannot be made about other modern shows trying to do the same thing. It’s refreshing to see "Good Omen’s” triumphant presentation of humanity as beautifully diverse and celebrated.
While not widely discussed, I feel like it would be a crime not to mention the costumes, one of my favorite elements of the whole show. I’m a sucker for good, well-crafted costumes, especially historical ones and “Good Omens” is bursting with them.
Designed by Clarie Anderson, who received an Emmy nomination, and Kate Currin, each outfit masterfully reflects the character’s personality, especially in Crowley and Aziraphale's clothing. This can be seen from the silhouettes, the color schemes to the specific cuts of fabric, making each character easily distinguishable. My personal favorite outfits are from 2500 BC, 1827, 1941, and of course, the modern day.
At its core, “Good Omens” strikes a masterful balance between comedic moments and insightful commentary on human nature. It sends a message that people are not wholly one thing or another – that they’re often somewhere in the middle. It’s that diversity that makes humanity so strange and wonderful.
As highlighted by Gaiman and Pratchett in the original book: “...the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”