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Bryan Fuller On American Gods’ Groundbreaking Gay Sex Scene

by  in CBR Exclusives, TV News Comment
Bryan Fuller On American Gods’ Groundbreaking Gay Sex Scene

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the third episode of American Gods, which premiered Sunday on Starz.


While a lot went down for Shadow and Mr. Wednesday in the third episode of Starz’s American Gods, the one scene that’s sure to have tongues wagging is a graphic and groundbreaking sex scene between a mortal and a deity. And this time we’re not talking about Bilquis and her ravenous sexual appetite.

In adapting Neil Gaiman’s rich fantasy novel, co-creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have transformed standalone chapters into world-building vignettes. The “Coming to America” sections have served as cold-open introductions of characters like a blood-thirsty Norse god and the African trickster Mr. Nancy. This week, halfway through “Head Full of Snow,” a “Somewhere in America” vignette introduced the story of Salim and the Jinn, which features a newly immigrated and stressed salesman from Oman who experiences a life-changing encounter with a taxi-driving ifrit (essentially, genie).

via GIPHY

We’d briefly seen the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) in an earlier episode, his flaming eyes spotted by Shadow as the Middle Eastern god walked away from a conversation with Mr. Wednesday. But in last night’s episode, the Jinn received far more screen time, seducing Salim (Omid Abtahi) in a prolonged and passionate love scene.

When CBR spoke with Fuller ahead of the premiere, we asked him and co-creator Michael Green about this striking Jinn sequence, and how the conversation about its execution evolved.

“It really wasn’t much of a conversation,” Fuller said. “When Michael and I first sat down, we decided that the Salim/Jinn story was something that was distinct and groundbreaking in its time, when we read it. And we wanted to give that story a beauty and hypnotic quality that made it hard to ignore. We were adamant about that.”

Fuller went on to explain how personal experience informed this approach, saying, “As a gay man going to movies — and whether it’s Prelude to a Kiss and Alec Baldwin is having a kiss with a gentleman — and hearing the audience cringe, and boo and hiss, or seeing The Color Purple and the suggestion of a lesbian romance, then hearing the audience cringe, and jeer, was so shocking and bizarre of a reaction to something that is so human and beautiful. So, it was vital for us to make it undeniably beautiful and surreal and lovely and hypnotic, and cinematically represent a transportive sexual experience.”

Astute readers might remember the scene is a bit different in the book. Fuller explained the changes, saying, “For Salim, a man whose sex life probably consisted of back-alley blowjobs because he grew up in the Middle East where homosexuality is punishable by death and he could get tossed off of a rooftop, it felt like we had an opportunity to tell a deeper story. In the book, it’s another blowjob in a hotel room. For us, we wanted this to be about making love, and giving Salim, a healthy sexual experience that was different than anything he had experienced before. And that’s why he drops to his knees to blow the Jinn, and the Jinn lifts him off of his knees and kisses him tenderly. Because that’s not what Salim is used to. That’s not the life Salim had led. And so part of the wish fulfillment of the Jinn is to grant those who worship him a new life of sorts. And that felt like it was a wonderful opportunity to address some issues that are happening in the world.” Then he added with a smile, “And also have a really crazy sex scene!”

Green concurred, saying simply, “Gods give back.”

American Gods airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.

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