Good Omens Cast: the Novel vs the TV Series
The novel that Good Omens is based on (and the outline that will form the basis of season three if it goes ahead) was written by two authors; Gaiman, and Terry Pratchett, who sadly passed away in 2015. It has faced less overt backlash thanks to the extremely popular casting of David Tennant and Michael Sheen in the lead roles. However, the show does noticeably embrace a more diverse cast than the book.
There is a list of Dramatis Personae at the beginning of Good Omens that features 10 male characters, five female, four anthropomorphic personifications (three male, one female) and eight characters who are technically without gender, but every single one of them is referred to with he/him pronouns.
The TV show, on the other hand, features a cast that is diverse in terms of gender and race and includes actors with disabilities. The romantic side of Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship, which has its roots in the book, is made slightly more explicit in season one and substantially more explicit in season two, alongside the introduction of new characters who are also ethnically diverse and in non-heteronormative relationships.
Of course, Good Omens has Gaiman as Creator, Writer, and Executive Producer, who can defend the choice to embrace inclusive casting as co-author of the book. But it is important to know that this does not mean Pratchett’s voice has been left out, nor is there any reason to think Pratchett would have thought any differently. Although he is sadly unable to speak about the series himself, Pratchett is represented as Executive Producer by Rob Wilkins.
Wilkins explained to Den of Geek that “[his] job on Earth is to be Terry’s voice”, and talked enthusiastically about how he walks on the set of Good Omens and feels Pratchett’s presence.
Pratchett and Character Diversity
Like Gaiman, Pratchett was a writer who always aimed at a diverse cast of characters anyway. His Discworld books, for example, include a number of very well-written, well-rounded and memorable female characters, from the formidable Granny Weatherwax and Angua von Uberwald, to the romantic Magrat Garlick and Agnes Nitt (a.k.a. Perdita). However, also like Gaiman, they did tend to be outnumbered by male characters, especially early on. In mixed-gender groups like the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, for example, male characters clearly outnumber female. There are 41 Discworld books, 26 of which have a male lead character to 15 with a female lead character. Pratchett introduced female lead characters as early as the third book, Equal Rites, which came out in 1987 and is about feminism. But it is notable that Eskarina Smith’s admission to Unseen University did not pave the way for any more women, and that the number of female-led books increased substantially once young witch Tiffany Aching was introduced in The Wee Free Men in 2003.