Lauren’s Etude to Eden: Good Omens, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” and “39”

Now I will admit, despite being in the ideal target demographic, I never got into Superwholock when I was younger. For any unaware of this unfortunate phenomenon, Superwholock is the fan base created for fans of the shows Supernatural, Dr. Who, and Sherlock. All my friends in middle school seemed to be enamored in these shows, but I somehow dodged the angsty content and media that was perfect for me at this stage in my life. I really should have had the classic “emo” stage. I cannot elaborate on why I did not. However, the internet has brought to my attention that there is a new age of “Superwholock,” and I honestly cannot disagree with them. This new set of shows feels very reminiscent of the themes that enamored many back in the day and overall encapsulates the same feral energy found on Tumblr at its peak when those shows were still airing. The new age of “Superwholock” has presented itself in the following programs: Good Omens, What We Do in the Shadows, and Our Flag Means Death. I can say that while I may not have given in to the first wave of this occurrence, the second time around I am not so lucky. These three shows all come together in such a way that gives a sense of progression in this age, instead of the frantic grasping for scraps that people had to engage in during the age of Superwholock. While many people rallied around shows like Supernatural, Dr. Who, and Sherlock due to their potential for representation of more inclusive relationships and people’s ability to relate to their characters, people now rally behind shows like Good Omens, What We Do in the Shadows, and Our Flag Means Death due to their explicit representation offered in an age that is significantly more accepting.

The newest addition to this trio, Our Flag Means Death, is the most direct in its representation, having formally established queer relationships and a nonbinary character. However, I will instead be focusing on the one that may be considered the least direct in its inclusion, but overall is very flexible in its interpretations: Good Omens. For today’s update, I will be diving into both the book (published in 1990) and the TV show (aired in 2019) and how they are both a perfect encapsulation of a love story, but in significantly different ways. In doing so, I have assigned each their own song that I think describes what makes them unique from each other, because while they are based on each other, each holds differing themes and aspects that make them entirely separate experiences. And in the spirit of staying on brand, there was only one artist I could choose to interpret these stories. With that being said, here is my unnecessary deep-dive into a several-year-long obsession… 

I have now realized I should provide a general synopsis of the plot for context, but for those who do not know either piece of media, the plot is borderline incomprehensible. The main characters are their own background characters; they contribute exactly nothing to the plot except for making it worse. However, I suppose I must try. Essentially, the story largely follows the misadventures of an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) sent to Earth to do their heavenly/demonic duties and become closer over time due to them being the only two celestial creatures around. Depending on any number of clues or opinions, they can be anything from begrudging acquaintances to “husbands” (more on those differences later). The two come to find themselves in a looming apocalypse and agree they wish to stop it, raising the antichrist themselves to make them neither good nor bad, but purely neutral, thus halting the apocalypse. Long story short, they raise the wrong child and spend the rest of the narrative trying to locate him throughout the week leading up to the apocalypse. Meanwhile, all the other characters are managing quite fine on their own and the antichrist essentially fixes everything himself. Virtually none of the characters are needed to progress the main plot of this story, but that leaves room to develop other aspects of the story and the characters within it that have gravitated people to this work. There are many key differences between overall themes and events that occur throughout either version of the story which will largely be addressed later on, but the heart and soul of it prevails throughout it all.  

For the book, I thought my interpretation best elaborated on with the song “39” by Queen

“In the year of ’39 

Assembled here the Volunteers 

In the days when lands were few 

Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn 

Sweetest sight ever seen 

And the night followed day 

And the storytellers say 

That the score brave souls inside 

For many a lonely day 

Sailed across the milky seas 

Ne’er looked back, never feared, never cried 

Don’t you hear my call? 

Though you’re many years away 

Don’t you hear me calling you? 

Write your letters in the sand 

For the day I take your hand 

In the land that our grandchildren knew 

 In the year of ’39 

Came a ship in from the blue 

The Volunteers came home that day 

And they bring good news 

Of a world so newly born 

Though their hearts so heavily weigh 

For the Earth is old and grey 

Little darlin’, we’ll away 

But my love this cannot be 

For so many years are gone 

Though I’m older but a year 

Your mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me 

Don’t you hear my call? 

Though you’re many years away 

Don’t you hear me calling you? 

Write your letters in the sand 

For the day I take your hand 

In the land that our grandchildren knew 

Don’t you hear my call? 

Though you’re many years away 

Don’t you hear me calling you? 

All your letters in the sand 

Cannot heal me like your hand 

For my life still ahead, pity me” 

The song is said to be about a group of astronauts sent out to explore the cosmos, only to return to Earth to find a hundred years had passed due to the time distortion of space, and their loved ones are dead and gone. I felt the more somber atmosphere captures a lot of what the book brings to the table because to me it speaks largely on themes of acceptance. It most emphasizes that concept in Aziraphale and Crowley’s acceptance of humanity’s way of life and that despite all the terrors they have seen throughout the millennia, humans are still worth saving. Earth has become their only true home where they can be themselves without the ever-present gaze of their superiors. The innate beauty of this creation blessed with free will and the beautiful things they can create is magnificent to them, enough so that they would defy the armies of Heaven and Hell at a chance to preserve it. This book is a love story about Earth and its creations. Despite all the wonders that likely lie beyond its reach, the Earth is too precious to ever be left to be destroyed by the will of those who believe they have a divine purpose. While I think this message is very fitting for its time and is immensely significant, this is not the theme that is picked up in the TV show adaptation, mainly because it is made very clear that in the show Crowley’s true love is not the Earth… 

Surprising to no one, the show’s song is “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”: 

“I can dim the lights and sing you songs full of sad things 

We can do the tango just for two 

I can serenade and gently play on your heart strings 

Be your Valentino just for you 

Ooh, love, ooh, loverboy 

What’re you doin’ tonight, hey, boy? 

Set my alarm, turn on my charm 

That’s because I’m a good old-fashioned loverboy 

Ooh, let me feel your heartbeat (Grow faster, faster) 

Ooh, ooh, can you feel my love heat? 

Come on and sit on my hot-seat of love 

And tell me how do you feel right after all 

I’d like for you and I to go romancing 

Say the word, your wish is my command 

Ooh, love, ooh, loverboy 

What’re you doin’ tonight, hey, boy? 

Write my letter 

Feel much better 

And use my fancy patter on the telephone 

When I’m not with you 

Think of you always 

(I miss those long hot summer nights) I miss you 

When I’m not with you 

Think of me always 

Love you, love you 

Hey, boy, where do you get it from? 

Hey, boy, where did you go? 

I learned my passion 

In the good old-fashioned 

School of loverboys 

Dining at the Ritz we’ll meet at nine precisely (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine o’clock) 

I will pay the bill, you taste the wine 

Driving back in style in my saloon will do quite nicely 

Just take me back to yours that will be fine (Come on and get it) 

Ooh, love (There he goes again) 

(He’s my good old fashioned loverboy) Ooh, loverboy 

What’re you doin’ tonight, hey, boy? 

Everything’s all right 

Just hold on tight 

That’s because I’m a good old-fashioned (fashioned) loverboy” 

Here is where the most glaring differences come into play: there are several scenes in the show that are not in the book, including the majority of the last episode. These scenes all heavily relate to notions of love, longing, and sacrifice. At the beginning of episode one, there is a half-hour cold-open showing the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley develops through the ages. They begin their interactions with a form of mutual respect, then eventually create their Arrangement where they help each other out with their petty work when necessary. This may present as simple comradery, but when Crowley, a demon, walks into a church to save Aziraphale and his books despite having no real reason to do so, it is more than just a nice favor. One subtle difference I tend to focus on is Crowley’s responses to occurrences within the last day or so before the apocalypse. When all seems to be for naught and the end seems certain, Crowley suggests running away together to a nearby star system. Book Crowley would never have suggested such a thing, but also, Book Aziraphale would never have brought it to that state. The version of Aziraphale in the show is a giant anxious mess concerning his heavenly duties and what is or is not crossing a line. He often pushes Crowley away when he gets too close in fear of what God would think of his relations with a demon. The taboo relationship between the two is heavily queer-coded in this respect. However, the relationship in the book is not nearly so intense, which becomes most evident in Crowley’s responses to Aziraphale’s “discorporation” in either work. “Discorporation” is their fancy word for dying in the human world – if they are killed on Earth, their being simply goes back to their respective realm after having lost their physical corporation. In a fun state of affairs, Aziraphale kind of explodes. In the book, Crowley simply continues with their plan to locate the antichrist since their mutual goal was to prevent the apocalypse and save the Earth, no matter the circumstances. In the show, Crowley gives up. In a brilliant show of screaming and tears with “Somebody to Love” blasting in the background, Crowley slinks off to a bar to get drunk in his final hours on Earth. It is at this moment that you realize Crowley’s true intentions of preventing the apocalypse, and perhaps even Aziraphale’s as well. They wish to save the Earth not exclusively for the sake of humankind, but because it is the only place they can exist together. In acknowledging this difference from the book, one can come to realize that this is not a love story of coming to acceptance anymore, but a love story of belonging. They had already gone through the hurdles to get the rights to exist in this world, now they want to be able to finally take agency in their own lives to decide who they belong with. Their lives in Heaven and Hell are stifling and cold, but together they bring out the best in their individual beings. It is here where a new ending is required for this narrative. In the book, once the apocalypse is prevented, it is essentially happily ever after. In the show, Crowley and Aziraphale still must answer for their crimes in preventing the war they all so desired to settle the feud started once Lucifer rebelled. Ever the dramatic duos, these two seek to expressly defy their respective superiors to declare their dedication to each other, and that together they are untouchable. In a beautiful display of love, they switch bodies to brave the other’s punishment: holy water for Crowley, and hellfire for Aziraphale. Once they both come out safe and sound, insinuating to their respective sides that they are somehow invulnerable, they can finally express to each other the millennia’ worth of repressed emotions, having a lovely dinner at the Ritz in a wonderful mirror of their first meeting.  

So, as you can see, despite these both stemming from the same material, they are vastly different stories that require different overall interpretations. Throughout both, the traces of love are evident. The narrative originally constructed between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman could become a blueprint for people seeking acceptance and belonging in a large, confusing world that sometimes seems not to be all that worth it. Both narratives provide a varying array of reasons why this world and this life is worth preserving and living, if not only for the potential it all contains. Today’s age continues to develop and become more welcoming for those previously told they could never belong or exist, but if an angel can tell God that they are wrong and a demon can tell Satan to step off, all can find a place in this world. 

-Lauren Lotarski, Blogger.

Lauren Lotarski – Poetry Editor & Copy Editor: Lauren is a sophomore at Lewis University majoring in Psychology and English with a concentration in Literature and Language. She is also employed at the university library. In her free time, she likes to read, draw, knit, and consuming general popular media like movies, TV shows, and video games. Some of her favorite authors are Leigh Bardugo, Charles Dickens, and Neil Gaiman. She hopes to improve upon her writing and knowledge of literature during her time at Lewis and apply it to her future endeavors. 

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