The BBC Two/Amazon Video production Good Omens is a tongue-in-cheek retelling of Armageddon. Based on the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel of the same name, the story is about a demon named Crowley (played by David Tennant) and an angel named Aziraphale (played by Michael Sheen) as they attempt to stop the world from ending because they enjoy the vices of humanity a little too much. Where will they eat sushi once humanity dies? This witty tale hits all the beats of a Revelations-inspired, end-of-days romp. We have our war-ready Heaven and Hell, our Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and unfortunately, a whole bunch of queerbaiting.
Queerbaiting is when a text uses indirect cues to imply a queer dynamic between one or more characters. These texts will use queer or romantic language that usually has two meanings. For example, the TV show Supernatural infamously had a character joke with their “friend” that they wanted to open up a bed & breakfast together in Vermont, which, although not directly referring to homosexuality, is a widespread gay meme. This method is by its very nature indirect, and therefore, there is always plausible deniability. Where one viewer, usually a queer one, will pick up on romantic tension, another viewer will just see two good friends who want to run away together.
From a strictly textual interpretation, it’s possible to view Good Omen characters Crowley and Aziraphale as those two friends. They may have known each other for centuries and have intimately bonded over their love for human vices and creations, but that love is not written directly as queer. There is no gay sex or wide-sweeping confessions of romantic love. When Neil Gaiman was asked on Twitter whether the two characters were gay, he promptly dodged the question:
“They’re an angel and a demon, not male humans.”
If you believe in authorial intent (or that the author has the final say in interpreting a work), then the proverbial buck stops here. Neil Gaiman says they are not gay, so they are not gay. Crowley and Aziraphale, though, are two male-presenting characters on screen, and throughout the first season, the tension between them is palpable. The quirk that makes this duo unique is their love for human things…