The recent firing of Orlando Jones was upsetting (to say the least) as he was a very easy character to like on American Gods. Mr. Nancy wasn’t exactly a pivotal character in every episode but once he appeared he was someone that fans were willing to sit and watch since not only was the character enjoyable, the way that Jones played him was entirely likable and had more to do with the tale than people realized sometimes. Just to give you a quick reminder of who Mr. Nancy was, the god Anansi is an African folktale, a god that is responsible for all knowledge and stories much as his character is shown in the program. Jones brought this character to life in a way that might actually offend some people in some scenes but still be absolutely wonderful since it’s offensive and you don’t need to care so much since it’s honest. Nate Day of Fox News has written that the studio has said that as Mr. Nancy isn’t being as prominently featured in the story any longer, his part is no longer needed, but as you can imagine fans are saying something quite different. While it’s true that the book is a bit different than the show (imagine that) there does seem to be something of a struggle to understand just why he wouldn’t be included since the show has already managed to differ in a few big ways from the book. So why not keep Mr. Nancy? Orlando had this to say:
“I’m not going to name names but the new season 3 showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he’s very smart and he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry, get s–t done [attitude] is the wrong message for black America,”
That’s a little less than inspiring really since it plays the blame game and categorizes the type of person that might not think that Mr. Nancy is important. Of course such an idea is wrong, Mr. Nancy is still pretty important since he’s been all about helping and telling stories as is his wont to do in the show. But given how many changes have already been made it would be more reasonable to keep him there than to just up and ditch him for no other reason than because he’s not featured as prominently in the book. In a big way Anansi is the angry type that wants to get things done, but as it’s been shown in the program he’s also the guy that’s willing to work with others in order to make sure it gets done. While Mr. Nancy is all for the fight against injustice against black people and for telling them to rise up, he’s also the type that’s been seen to follow his own interests as well and even work with other gods from other pantheons, some of them white, some of them people of color. In other words he’s not the kindest god around but he is one that decides to care about certain things when they pertain to survival and the pursuit of justice for the downtrodden. But he’s also an opportunist if anyone watching the show has seen. He follows Odin quite easily and without too much question, but Mr. Nancy is always one to keep an eye on since there’s no telling just how far one can trust him.
The ‘angry, get s**t done’ attitude isn’t necessarily wrong so long as it’s being taken as a way to gain justice and equality for people since it does sometimes take a measure of anger and grit to really make things work the way they should for everyone and not just for those holding the power. If Mr. Nancy is anything, he’s a character that values a sense of right and wrong and will stand up for what he feels is right. Hell, during one episode he speaks to a group of black slaves in a ship’s hold and convinces them to torch the ship and gain their freedom even at the cost of their lives. He’s a tricky one to be sure, but he’s also a god that is far more into justice than he makes out sometimes. Getting rid of the character seems like a mistake since he added a bit of spice to the show that might otherwise be missed when season 3 makes its entrance. People have been waiting on season 3 for a while now and without Mr. Nancy it could be quite a bit different. Hopefully they won’t replace him since Orlando Jones was made for this role and to just hand it off to anyone else would be a mistake unless they found someone just as convincing. Having read the book I can’t help but hope that the next season will follow things a little closer since Shadow’s journey is still yet to be completed and there’s a long way yet to go.
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