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Episode 165 – The Almighty Johnsons

We hope you like Norse myth and penis jokes, because it’s time to discuss The Almighty Johnsons, a New Zealand comedy show following the misadventures of gods reincarnated into mortal bodies.

We hope you like Norse myth and penis jokes, because it’s time to discuss The Almighty Johnsons, a New Zealand comedy show following the misadventures of gods reincarnated into mortal bodies. We’re talking about farce, the misappropriation of history, and this show’s complicated relationship with masculinity!

Some Sources You Might Find Interesting:

The Almighty Johnsons: Norse Gods Redux by Andrew E. Larsen

INTERVIEW: The Almighty Johnsons Producer Simon Bennett 

TV Review: In Praise of ‘The Almighty Johnsons’ by Pauline Ross

The Almighty Johnsons: Family Dysfunction of Heavenly Proportions by Mark Clamen

Youth and the older crowd: The Almighty Johnsons and redefining coming of age television by Dr. Karin Beeler

White supremacists are misappropriating Norse mythology, says expert by Geoff Mcmaster

Queer Asgard Folk by Linnea Hartsuyker

How the Female Characters in The Almighty Johnsons were Misused – and how that likely lead to the early end of a great series… by Prof. Rosanne Welch

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2 replies on “Episode 165 – The Almighty Johnsons”

Thanks for citing my essay in this edition of your show focusing on The Almighty Johnsons. I agreed with your ideas about Gaia having her choice being taken away – I always attribute whatever 3 dimensionality given to female characters to the woman in the writers room, in this case Rachel Lang. I missed you mentioning her as much as Steven Bennett since she co-created the show. As is the case in the early female screenwriters I teach about in my History of Screenwriting courses – women do less publicity and therefore appear less in research – bad idea on her part (and one other women should learn from. Brag about your work. Let the world know why you wrote what you wrote and what you hoped it would mean to them.)

Do you know Lang’s other show – Go Girls? It had a lot to say about modern New Zealand relationships. I had the chance to meet Lang at a Screenwriting conference in Dunedin, New Zealand a few years ago. She was pretty smartly pragmatic about how hard it was then to get monies for new dramas unless they could sell to other countries which they had done to the SyFy Channel and we would soon find more possible with the rise of streamers.

She introduced me to a couple of other female screenwriters who lectured on a subject you might find fun: “10 Ways to F*ck Up Your Female Character”
By Fiona Samuel

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/standing-room-only/audio/2018671730/10-ways-to-f-k-up-your-female-characters-fiona-samuel

Back to Almighty, your points about Anders not having sex with men reminded me of how Captain Jack on Doctor Who and Torchwoo could – and did. Finally, as to Dawn, if you like the actress (Fern Southerland)’s work do you know she’s been a lead police detective character on another NZ drama, Brokenwood Mysteries, for the last few years? And Michelle (played by Michelle Langstone) is now on One Lane Bridge – which has a storyline more focused on the Maori culture (but is also a cop drama).

I wondered what you both thought about how the rise of the Marvel films (and their versions of Thor and Loki) would have changed how these characters might have appeared on Almighty – or if that would have kyboshed the whole idea of selling to SyFy since the Marvel characters would be so ingrained in viewers’ minds?

Finally, as to Derry Girls, you should enjoy it. I did.

Thanks for your comment, and also for directing us to your work! It was a big help in outlining the episode. :slight_smile:

I think you’re totally right about Rachel Lang’s contribution. Though I did like some of the direction that the female characters took even after her departure, most of them were defined by their relationship to (or actions against) one or more of the gods. In season one, their motives were more mysterious in a way that felt almost confrontational—they weren’t just defined by being in opposition to the Johnsons, but by being entirely separate. I liked the secrecy they had in that first season, and a little (maybe a lot!) more of that would have been a positive in seasons two and three.

I’m not familiar with her other work (nor with Go Girls, Brokenwood Mysteries, or One Land Bridge!), but they all sound interesting!

I feel like it would have been really interesting to have Anders be interested in men. He’s clearly misogynistic, but I’d be interested to know what his relationships with people who aren’t women and who aren’t family members/enemies would have looked like. Would he have treated male partners as dismissively as he did his female ones? Is he an equal-opportunity jerk? (Probably.)

Your question about the Marvel films is SUPER interesting. Merri said she’d have been surprised if SyFy picked it up with the popularity of the Marvel films now because the gods are so different—she thought that they might be concerned that fans of the Marvel films would reject Thor and Loki because they feel like polar opposites (at least in Thor’s case).

I think the show could have benefitted a bit from some of the Thor character growth in the Marvel films (Loki in both The Almighty Johnsons and the Marvel films seems pretty irredeemable to me, but the movies disagree, so who am I to say!). I really just wanted more growth overall for Thor in TAJ, though. I’d love a little more laughing with versus laughing at.

I’m excited to watch Derry Girls! I’ve heard wonderful things and am definitely looking forward to it.

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