Going to Hell and Back again: Good Omens

By Veronika M. Heinrich

Good Omens LogoHave you ever won­dered what it would be like if the writ­ers of a show gave their fans exact­ly what they wished for – and then broke their hearts?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m com­plete­ly amazed by sea­son 2 of the com­e­dy series, Good Omens. Ever since sea­son 4 of BBC’s Sher­lock, I lost my faith in showrun­ners who allowed queer­bait­ing and gaslight­ing. That is, until sea­son 2 of Good Omens came along. If you haven’t watched it yet, beware of spoilers!

Good Omens (2019 –) is based on Neil Gaiman’s and Ter­ry Pratchett’s nov­el of the same name. We fol­low the sto­ry of the demon Crow­ley (David Ten­nant) and the angel Azi­raphale (Michael Sheen), who are sup­posed to fol­low the orders of a very bureau­crat­ic ver­sion of heav­en and hell. But soon enough, they fig­ure out they can bend the rules slight­ly and start work­ing togeth­er. In sea­son 1, the two try to pre­vent the apoc­a­lypse from hap­pen­ing. In sea­son 2, the archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) is at the cen­ter of a pecu­liar and mys­te­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion involv­ing mem­o­ry loss and heaven’s bureau­crat­ic lead­ers. Both heav­en and hell want to get their hands on Gabriel, but as Azi­raphale and Crow­ley are now “on their own side,” they decide to pro­tect Gabriel and find out what has hap­pened to him. At the same time, they must defend the frag­ile home they’ve made for them­selves. To do so, they try to hide a mir­a­cle they cre­at­ed to keep Gabriel safe and claim that it was sup­posed to bring Mag­gie (Mag­gie Ser­vice) and Nina (Nina Sosanya), shop own­ers from across the street, togeth­er as a couple.

While sea­son 1 fea­tures mul­ti­ple pro­tag­o­nists and their sto­ry­lines, sea­son 2 main­ly focus­es on the rela­tion­ship between Azi­raphale and Crow­ley as they explore their feel­ings for each oth­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there’s also a lot of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and time pres­sure as Azi­raphale has been pro­mot­ed and needs to go back to heav­en for the job. Yet, Crow­ley, who’s sup­posed to come along, wants noth­ing to do with heav­en or hell anymore.

What I love most about Good Omens is how seri­ous­ly it treats its fans and the sto­ry it’s telling. The rep­re­sen­ta­tion of good and evil is con­vinc­ing, as is the casu­al queer­ness. Good Omens fea­tures sev­er­al char­ac­ters from the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­ni­ty, but they don’t make a big deal out of it. They’re just liv­ing their lives like every­one else. In many scenes, Azi­raphale and Crow­ley behave like the old mar­ried cou­ple they are, for instance when they dance togeth­er or kiss each oth­er. See.

When I watched BBC’s Sher­lock back in the 2010s, many fans were cer­tain that John Wat­son (Mar­tin Free­man) and Sher­lock Holmes (Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch) would become a cou­ple in the end. The cre­ators had hint­ed at it on sev­er­al occa­sions, for instance in the way the char­ac­ters act­ed around each oth­er – with long­ing stares and con­tin­u­ous con­ver­sa­tions about how every­body thought they were a cou­ple. But when the final sea­son had aired, noth­ing of the sort hap­pened, and the fans were mocked for imag­in­ing it.

Now, Good Omens did the exact oppo­site. It’s a main­stream show, not sole­ly cen­tered around queer rela­tion­ships. And unlike in Sher­lock, where the main response to fan­fic­tion was mark­ing the cre­ators as insane and weird, in Good Omens the fans are cel­e­brat­ed – also by the series’ main actors: Michael Sheen is delight­ed by the fan­fic­tion out there, and David Ten­nant has com­ment­ed on Ama­zon that he was hap­py to see peo­ple cos­play­ing at a convention.

The season’s finale is heart­break­ing, to say the least. But I trust the showrun­ners to fix it in sea­son 3. (I spoiled enough already, you’ll have to see the show for yourselves).

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