I don’t normally review television on my blog, but I don’t normally do anything on my blog and I am supposed to do blog things, so I might as well talk about this since I am currently incapable of talking about anything else.
I read Good Omens sometime more than a decade but less than two ago. (For those of you keeping track at home, I was between 15 and 22.) I’d gotten hooked on Terry Pratchett in high school and the English bookstore in the Austrian city where I lived had run out of Discworld books I hadn’t read. Or maybe I came across it later, working at a bookstore myself; I can’t remember the particulars and it doesn’t matter. I loved the humor of it. The wordplay. The way the book embraced absurdity. And the story was fantastic in every sense of the word. I loved it. But I didn’t love it then the way I do now, and I wouldn’t have had the vocabulary to articulate it if I did.
Good Omens is not a book about the end of the world. It is a book about unlikely common ground that doesn’t force one to look for it with ultraconservative pillocks. It’s a book about hope for a better world, a book that champions the resilience and power of children’s imaginations. It’s a book that owns that we’ve fucked up quite a lot as a species but outright refuses to allow us to write ourselves off. Its wry delivery occasionally masquerades as cynicism, but come on: a demon and his angel BFF save the world through a combination of wit, dumb luck, and sheer incompetence. I can’t think of a more perfect antidote to the epidemic of grim, dark Game of Thrones–style media—media I personally can’t consume without risking nightmares and existential anxiety.
As if that weren’t enough, Good Omens is the kind of book that exemplifies one of its key messages, which is that art is useful and good and worth preserving—that art can influence the world on a real level. The writer in me appreciates that deeply. And quite apart from its themes, Good Omens taught me about style, specifically the use of humorous footnotes in fiction and that sentences don’t have to end the way the reader expects. I owe it a professional debt for that alone.
So it’s safe to say I’ve been awaiting this TV series fairly anxiously.
Doubtless there are valid criticisms to make about the series. But I’ll leave those to someone else. I lost the ability to be impartial sometime around “the Earth is a Libra.” Because for me, the thing that could make or break the show was: Does it convey the same energy and themes as the book? Does it make me laugh without being cruel? Does it make me feel?
Good Omens did all of that and more, and the show works as well as the book on multiple levels. Do you want an occasionally story about unlikely friendship overcoming obstacles? Got you covered. A philosophical examination of good and evil? That too. A nearly apocalyptic tale with a six-thousand-year-long romantic subplot? Jeez, talk about a slow burn. (Thank you, Michael Sheen.) And on top of all of this, it’s visually and aurally stunning.
I’m not going to say Good Omens cured my depression, but it did prompt me to reach out to friends I haven’t seen in actual years to organize a watch party. I love it, and I’m so happy that it came into my life.