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The Almighty Johnsons is an urban fantasy genre show out of New Zealand. Over there it’s in its 3rd season, but the 1st season just appeared on Netflix in the US. Netflix recommended it to both my roommates and me, so we thought we’d give it a shot. Keep in mind we’ve only seen the first 3 episodes, but I think that’s enough to have developed some decent first impressions of the show.

thealmightyjohnsons

The basic premise is this: four brothers – Mike, Anders, Ty, and Axl – are all decendents of Norse gods. Olaf – the only guy in the photo above in shorts – is actually their grandfather (he just ages really slowly because of his god power). Way back when the gods decided to live amongst humans, they left Asgard for Earth. Later, when people stopped believing in them or something, they got chased out of their homes and fled to New Zealand (Yes, New Zeland, of all places). Now, whenever a god and a goddess have a child together, that child becomes a god on his or her 21st birthday. They’re immortal, it seems, because they are continuously reincarnated.

Before I get into more detail, I feel the need to tell you that this show does not take itself very seriously. At all. The sense of humor is very blunt. They’re all gods, and they know they’re gods, but they appear to only really have memories of their current reincarnated lives (this might not be true, but I’m only 3 episodes in, and this is the way it seems). I LOVE the humor in this show. The situation is absurd to begin with, and they just roll with it. It reminds me a bit of the humor in The Fades. It’s blunt, and it’s quick witted, but there’s also a lot of 21-year-old boy humor. It’s an interesting combination.

The story begins on Axl’s 21st birthday, when his family informs him that his “cousin” Olaf is actually his grandfather, and they all have weak super powers because they’re gods. They do this silly little ritual – forcing Axl to strip naked and hold a sword in the air for “the lightning bolt” and suddenly he’s a god. But he’s also a 21-year-old boy. You can see how ridiculous this can become.

Here are a few more ridiculous things:

Olaf also has the fun duty of being the family Oracle. Sometimes he knows things. Sometimes his chill surfer dude lifestyle seems to take over his ability to know things. At one point he snaps out of a god-induced coma thing and starts dancing around, topless, with a lamp. I love Olaf.

The 4 brothers’ parents were the god of the sea, who ran off when they were kids, and their mother was the goddess of… I can’t remember. But she decided raising four sons who would be gods was too much to handle, so she ran into the forest to become a tree. Apparently the absurdity of godly behavior transcends the years.

Then there’s that one time that the god of all things dark and cold, and the goddess of… apples(?) have sex and make it snow apple-flavored snow. Indoors.

I don’t know very much about Norse mythology, mostly just the big-name gods and goddesses, but people who do know it will appreciate that many of the lesser-known gods and goddesses are in play here. It makes for many hilarious situations, especially when you start to think about the original relationships between all of them.

The only relationship they stick to is that between Odin and Frigg. There are a bunch of signs the day Axl turns 21, and this leads to him being the reincarnation of Odin. Odin has a big job. He has to find Frigg. This is his quest. If he fails this quest before he dies, then his whole family also dies. No pressure, then.

The set-up and the humor alone are enough to get me to start watching The Almighty Johnsons. But whether or not I stick around will be based on how they portray women on the show. I’m three episodes in, and so far the women are either mortal background characters (Axl’s roommate has a massive crush on him, but I can’t remember her name, and he is completely obvilious, and otherwise I have no idea what her purpose in life is. Then there’s Mike’s wife, who pretty much hates half his family, and might have originally been Mike’s best friend’s girlfriend?? But again, no idea what she does otherwise.), prizes to be won (Frigg, the goddess of Eden), or enemies.

There appears to be a whole coven of women who are probably goddesses, but this hasn’t really been confirmed. They tried to kill Odin, but failed, so now they’re trying to find Frigg. We don’t really know their names (at least, not their goddess names). But when the gods found out they existed, they were like “oh shit, goddesses hanging out together is really bad news – we have to find Frigg first!” Which, to an outsider like an audience member, is completely out of the blue. So far, the women haven’t been treated like people with their own ambitions (though I do have hope for Anders’ assistant, Dawn, who appears to be the only gorgeous woman Anders hasn’t tried to sleep with). They are entirely dependent on the gods’ storyline. I really hope this changes, but if it doesn’t, I don’t think I’ll be leaping for joy when season 2 comes to Netflix.

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