Rest assured that if you thought the Children in last night’s episode of American Gods was a reference to A Clockwork Orange, you weren’t wrong.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first episode of American Gods.]
American Gods’ pilot introduced a number of important characters who audiences will become acquainted with in the coming weeks, but two, faceless lackeys may have seemed eerily familiar. The characters, simply referred to as the Children, belong to Technical Boy, the young god Shadow Moon faces off against at the end.
Prior to the episode airing, showrunner Bryan Fuller tweeted a mockup design of the Children as part of a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their production. Fuller confirmed the Children were based entirely on the Droogs that appear in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange.
Fuller explained that he was legally prohibited from calling the characters Droogs. The Droogs, as A Clockwork Orange fans will know, were a group of adolescent boys who belonged to a street gang. They’re mostly remembered for their unquenchable desire for violence and the vile acts they committed.
This isn’t the first time that Fuller has made a reference to A Clockwork Orange in one of his series, either. The showrunner confessed to using Rossini’s “The Thieving Magpie” in the third season of Hannibal as a way to pay homage to Kubrick’s film.
@leogormano Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie". This is a full on homage to Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange".— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) July 5, 2015
Fuller’s love for Kubrick doesn’t stop there, either. Along with the homage to A Clockwork Orange in American Gods and Hannibal, Fuller has used his series as a way to pay respect to the director’s other work, including one of his most popular films, The Shining.
There’s a scene in Hannibal’s pilot where Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is talking to Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in a bathroom. The bathroom in question is nearly identical to the one in The Shining. Fuller told Entertainment Weekly at the time that he’s been trying to find a way to bring the homage into one of his shows since Pushing Daisies.
“I've been wanting to do the bathroom [set] forever,” Fuller said. “I tried to do it several times on Pushing Daisies but we always had budget restrictions and I wanted it to be exactly like that bathroom. Every show I’ve done I wanted to build a bathroom that looked like that space. What’s so remarkable about it is it’s a purely psychological space. It’s like they dipped the entire set in blood. I understood watching it as a 10-year-old that this was psychological storytelling”
Fuller’s A Clockwork Orange reference in American Gods is the latest example of his devotion to Kubrick, but it’s not his last. In a promotional video for Star Trek: Discovery, CBS’ newest installment in the beloved franchise, Fuller said part of the reason they decided to go with the name Discovery stemmed from his adoration for Kubrick.
“This ship is called the Discovery for a few reasons,” said Fuller, as reported by io9. “Not the least of which is Stanley Kubrick’s contribution to the Discovery on 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Although Fuller is no longer working on Star Trek: Discovery, citing scheduling conflicts as a reason for his departure, the tribute to Kubrick will remain.
Fuller is the type of showrunner who likes to include references to obscure art and classic films in his shows, explaining that he often sees comparisons between his work and Kubrick’s. There’s a very good chance Fuller isn’t done with those references just yet.
American Gods airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.