Amazon’s Good Omens is Philosophical Fun

Atticus LeedsLayout Editor

Good Omens is a six-episode series produced in tandem between Amazon and BBC Studios, written by Neil Gaiman, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. It is based on a book of the same name, cooperatively written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, two titans of fantasy. It follows the story of the angel Aziraphel played by Michael Sheen and the demon Crowley played by David Tennant, who have grown friendly with one another and comfortable living on earth, and must work together in an attempt to prevent the biblical apocalypse brought on by the emergence of the antichrist.

Good Omens has an irreverent and absurdist sense of humor, as expected of something from the mind of Terry Pratchett, but the tone and world are consistent, so it is not jarring in a manner that would hurt the viewer’s suspension of disbelief or immersion.

It also maintains a sense of gravity for the viewer through the genuine relationships between the characters (you get to like these people) and the immediate threat of the plotline with which they are faced. The end of the world begins quite early in the series and plays out over only a few days, putting the show at a somewhat frantic pace; I think the show pulls this off well, though it demands a bit of attention so as not to get lost, especially in the middle episodes.

The show has a surreal aesthetic, almost parodying modern life, and as expected of both authors upon whose work it is based, it contains an amusing look at the celestial bureaucracy; the mythical presented in the manner of the mundane, with angels and demons in modern garb, reporting to their bosses as would any employee and speaking casually as any person would today. The show also features a lot of music by Queen, which, in my opinion, is almost always a plus.

Good Omens is a very philosophical piece of media. It focuses on traditional concepts of good and evil and treats their interplay as an affair that creates what might be called ‘true good’; a balance between the two. Heaven or hell utterly prevailing would be disastrous for humanity, and the good and evil balance of earth and humanity is presented as the ideal.

If you enjoy considering ideas of cosmic balance, Good Omens might be an intriguing watch. However, if you consider the concept that evil is ultimately a part of the universe’s order completely unpalatable, this one might not be for you.

I personally think the show’s message falls a little bit short because, while good and evil’s balance is meant to be desirable, both Aziraphel and Crowley appear as generally decent and well-meaning individuals throughout.

Aziraphel might enjoy some creature comforts and Crowley might be a bit of a troublemaker, but good far outweighs evil between the two. Aziraphel is also the only angel who appears and does anything outright ‘good’ in the entire show, making the ‘good’ of the angels more akin to ‘purity.’

Regardless, it’s certainly a show that will spark philosophical and theological debate. There is also talk of homoromantic subtext between the two male leads; while I understand why this is a popular interpretation of their relationship, I think that, if it’s intended, it was made subtle enough to be down to the watcher’s personal interpretation.

Amazon and the BBC’s Good Omens is a good watch for people who enjoy a fast-paced story with plenty of character back and forth, the supernatural made human, the exploration into the nature of morality, and for those who don’t mind a somewhat unorthodox and satirical take on Christian cosmology.

‘Good Omens’, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant / Image Courtesy of Amazon