Written by: Jonita Davis
I knew there was a reason why I hated that girl so much!
Laura Moon was the character I could not stand in the original American Gods book. She is a vapid, cheating, whining woman who later stalks Shadow out of what she thinks is love, but what turns out to be a mix of guilt, desperation, and compulsion from the coin raised her from the grave. This combination creates a savior for Shadow, which is perfect for the plot, but her pitiful refrain of “Puppy” cuts through the story like cat claws on a chalkboard. The mess she makes of the story’s hero isn’t much better. She is a dangerous person that we see in the book only about the man who loved her. She is a saccharine sweet treat with a rotted center.
I don’t know about you, but I wanted to choke that Laura Moon.
So, when Starz advertised an episode that would focus mostly on that so-and-so Laura Moon, I almost talked myself out of watching. I am so glad that I didn’t go with that thought. Bryan Fuller breathes life into the character Laura Moon, giving her a dimension we never see in the book—Laura without Shadow. The backstory and side-story works to help the audience understand how this character became the woman she was for Shadow and why she was so obsessed with him later.
The episode also helped me to understand that my hatred for Laura was valid. She is a garbage person when she is alive and is even more pathetic dead. Fuller’s Laura Moon embodies some white privilege, covered in Regina-esque Mean Girls, that’s laced with a little Ali Larter from Obsessed—she’s crazy as hell.
We get to see a Laura before Shadow in the show, which is a change. The Laura from the book is introduced through Shadow, so that sweet candy coating is always on her, despite the rot that is wafting from her center. Shadow paints a picture of a loving, doting wife, but we know she died giving his best friend fellatio. She loves and cares about Shadow, yet we find that she initiates the robbery that leads to his imprisonment. In fact, she offers him the robbery job because she is bored with their life together. This mirrors her life before Shadow. Laura is bored, depressed, and even attempts suicide using a can of “Git Gone” bug spray and a hot tub. Incidentally, “Git Gone” is the name of the episode.
She only engages with Shadow at their first meeting because he is something new in her dull life. She brings him home and then engages in a sexual encounter, again, to enliven her life at the time. I think she only lets Shadow stay around because he becomes another dull thing attached to her. She soon becomes bored.
It should be sacrilege for her to look as tired as she does while under that good-looking brown man. In one intimate scene, she looks as though she is having a pap smear and has waited all day in the paper gown to get it. The moment she sends Shadow out for bug spray, I just knew she was done with him. But she keeps him around, despite the apparent lack of love for the man. It’s like she feels compelled to keep him because he loves her so much. She does not have anything else like that in her life. Or maybe, like millions of other couples in America who stay in stale relationships, she simply does not know how to end things.
Eventually, she initiates the robbery to get that spark back. Well, that ends with another Black man in jail.
You see, Laura was broken long before Shadow and her zombification. Fuller gives the audience a full illustration of the extent of Laura’s wrongness, which fills the gap left in Gaiman’s novel. Gaiman’s Laura just seems wrong somehow. We know that we don’t like her, but are mostly unsure why aside from a few small points. She is also candy-coated thanks to Shadow’s POV, so her real self is distorted anyway. We needed to see more. That’s why episode four is so important.
In addition to being depressed and broken, Laura is not afraid to flash her privilege to get a pass in the face of danger. Interestingly, that privilege comes because she is one of the few characters raised without any relationship with the gods. She explains how, after finding out the Easter Bunny, Santa, and Jesus weren’t real, there was nothing more to believe in. She is the only main character in the book which is void of belief. I believe this is the reason for her depression and dissatisfaction. I also believe that this is the only way she would think that saying “Fuck you,” to Anubis would get her a pass on death.
But, it did. She is yanked back to the grave before the insult is even completed. It is so fast that Anubis is left figuratively scratching his head. Laura’s afterlife was going to be what she believed, her making—a can of “Git Gone” and a hot tub, which would send her into nothingness. Her reaction, however, is unorthodox, but she knew nothing about the gods and thus was not afraid of their power. Otherwise, she would have been as docile as Mrs. Fadil when her time came.
Laura exerts her white privilege over who she saw as just another Black man sent to determine the direction of her life. Why would she honor Anubis, when she couldn’t even honor Shadow by staying faithful while he was in prison? The coin yanking her out of the spiritual realm would be seen as a triumph over Anubis until she learns of the coin’s true origin. Until then, she will be empowered by the thought that she cheated death, not knowing what Shadow and Mad Sweeney sacrificed to give her.
The last place that made me understand Laura was the bathroom scene. This girl waltzes into her friend Audrey’s home scares said friend and then proceeds to tone police the friend while taking a shit in the woman’s bathroom. Let’s not forget that Laura cheated with and killed Audrey’s husband. Dually guilty, you’d think the woman would be humbler in her speaking with Audrey.
The thing is, Audrey isn’t Shadow. She sees right through Laura. They trade barbs reminiscent of Regina and her Plastics, building until Audrey’s, “Fuck your feelings,” outburst while she is sewing Laura’s arm back into the socket. As if the intrusion into Audrey’s life wasn’t enough, Laura asks to borrow Audrey’s car. This side of Audrey is a new invention by Fuller as well, and I must say that I like it. The woman does not back down, but out of duty or shock, she still helps her friend, clapping back at the meanness every step of the way.
In the end, I figure out what it is I hate so much about Laura Moon. Yes, she saves Shadow from the lynching and if the book is the indicator, from a few other scrapes. However, she is the one who put the man is the position to be dependent on the gods. Remember, she initiated the robbery. Yes, Shadow still loves her after finding out about her death. Unfortunately, Shadow is grieving and can’t be trusted. And Laura’s love is probably the luck of the coin compelling her to be there for Shadow. Her love of him, more an infatuation of the light he generates in her world full of dull grayness.
Fuller’s Laura is still cold, and void. At least now, I can hate her for specific reasons.