Good Omens is the ultimate nature vs nurture experiment. The Antichrist arrives in a basket sent straight up from hell. Presumably born evil intended to be raised by powerful earthly parents. Instead he is switched with the wrong baby and sent home to live with the most normal, boring small town English parents one could hope for. Do your parents really have that much influence over you? Does your innate nature matter more? Adam Young; the Antichrist, is about to find out.
Good Omens is also the ultimate unlikely buddy adventure. Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and a demon, on earth for so long that they’ve developed an understanding and appreciation for each other. You might even say they are friends. But that might be going too far. They have certainly grown to love their little earthly pleasures, a nice Bentley, a fine cup of wine and of course, books, so they aren’t ready to give them up yet. Teaming up to stop the End of the World, what could go wrong?
** Spoilers Ahead**
The book, and the Amazon mini series, both contain so much that it’s impossible to summarize or even to properly dissect all the themes. You can read and reread, or watch and re watch (as much of the mini-series is taken word for word from the book) and still take away something new each time. I suppose that is the sign of a great work of art. Each viewing reveals new layers. As from this point on I’m assuming you’ve already read or watched Good Omens I won’t waste time in explaining plot but rather dive into a few of it’s themes that interested me.
Good Omens contains a fascinating depiction of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first horseman (or woman) introduced is War. Fairly straight forward, wherever she goes on earth peace disappears and fights break out. The next one, Famine is much more nuanced. Famine has spent his time among the wealthy recently. His latest book, ‘Foodless Dieting: Slim Yourself Beautiful’ is a best seller. He also was the inventor of Nouvelle cuisine, where “a string bean, a pea and a sliver of chicken aesthetically arranged on a square china plate constituted dinner.” pg. 62 This all rings horribly true. When we talk of famine we only think of starving people in poor countries and ignore the thousands of young people who believe they have to starve themselves, throw up their meals, exercise to the point of exhaustion, in order to be beautiful. This description of famine is so eye opening; suddenly all the possibilities of the word take shape. Famine is usually only used in the negative; war torn countries, starving people, a state of being that shouldn’t exist, and so to use it in terms of the pursuit of beauty or novelty in cuisine seems off but does have a sudden jarring ring of truth. For famine is a direct attack on life itself.
Another interesting theme in Good Omens is the idea of God’s ineffable plan. As the end of the world approaches in Good Omens, Crowley and Aziraphale try to influence the boy they believe is the Antichrist, until they discover that something has gone wrong. Some human ‘accident’ has intervened even before they tried to change things. Instead of growing up evil the Antichrist has grown up… normal. Instead of being isolated and controlled he has found friends… true friends and enjoyed the freedoms a young boy does in the English countryside. And it does change him. It does make a difference in how he views the world and even as the voices tell him the world is bad and needs restarted, he has seen enough good to know that hope still exists. Instead of imagining terrors or tortures he brings to life Aliens whose only job is to bring a message of peace. When the real battle for his destiny begins it’s his friends who remind him of who he is. Adam literally rewrites his own history. The Devil is coming and Adam decides he would rather just have his own Father, the one who has always been there for him. Who is dull but as reliable as a clock. He erases his past and chooses his own destiny. All outside of the ‘grand plan.’ Aziraphale and Crowly are left wondering what if this had been the plan all along. And I agree. The seeming ‘accident’ of Adam being switched at birth lead to the world being saved. God knew, God saw. The only thing I disagree with is that the God talked about in Good Omens is seem as being distant and removed, but maybe Good Omens actually does agree.. For isn’t the narrator God. The narrator who is keeping a close eye on things and knows what is going on in all parts of the world and in heaven and hell.
There is one more thing that Good Omens got right. Humans don’t need too much tempting to think up evil to do to each other. Don’t we seem to get into enough trouble all by ourselves? Crowley takes credit for the Spanish Inquisition but really that was all us. We are born sinful, with our own sinful natures that seeks self above all else. We hurt others and disguise it as good intentions.
There is so much going on in Good Omens that it’s hard to narrow down just a few things to talk about. I’d love to hear your perspective. What things in Good Omens stood out to you?!