I’ve wanted to write this since September when I got my grubby little hands on the pilot episode of Fox’s Lucifer series that showed at San Diego Comic Con.
I’m a huge fan of the character. I got into The Sandman in middle/high school and then dove headfirst into Mike Carey’s run of Lucifer, the spin off that looked at Lucifer kind of concurrent to The Sandman. I also have read and LOVED the first two issues of the new Lucifer book that Holly Black is writing on. On top of that, I was a religious studies minor in undergrad (who spent a fair amount of time studying all things Lucifer).
So when I say I’ve got opinions on this new Lucifer show, I’m coming from a place of expertise and knowledge.
Instead of writing a 3000 word angrypants rant about why this show is basically THE WORST, follow along as I look at the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly of Fox’s pilot episode for Lucifer.
Scarlett Estevez as Trixie, Chloe’s adorable daughter. Trixie literally steals the show for me. She’s so tiny and darling, all I want to do is hug her and bake her cupcakes. I like that the casting people went to cast a Latina child actress as the biracial daughter of Chloe Decker and Dan. I also like that she has the cutest freaking lines in the episode. The niblets and I were obsessed with her confession that she kicked her bully in the “no-no-touch-touch square” and it was our go-to phrase for genitals for a good month or so.
D. B. Woodside is perfect as Amenadiel. I think he fits the part of the self-righteous and kind of overbearing angel Amenadiel very well. There’s something about the menace in his eyes and the way that he loses just a bit of control when faced with Lucifer’s endless snark that is delightful.
While I want to complain about Mazikeen not having her usual appearance, Lesley-Ann Brandt does a mean Maz. I liked her when we saw her in Spartacus for that first season and I think that she’s definitely a good person for the role. She’s definitely muted as a character and not scary. I’m not watching the series after the pilot, but feel free to tell me if she’s developed as a power to be reckoned with the way she was in the comics! (Also: Maz is closer to “Decent” than “Good” but I wasn’t about to make a fourth category.)
This is such a comic fan thing to say, but Tom Ellis’ Lucifer looks nothing like the Lucifer that Duncan Fegredo, Christopher Moeller, and other artists did on the cover of the original ongoing series. Lucifer is (was) the Lightbringer. Blond hair definitely would help in this case because he doesn’t look, sound, or feel like Lucifer.
Another issue is that when I say that Lucifer doesn’t feel like Lucifer, I’m talking about the snark. It’s endless. Endless and overbearing. Every bit of dialogue he utters comes across as glib. One of the things that I remembered and loved about the way that Mike Carey wrote Lucifer in the wake of Gaiman’s original story arc, was that Lucifer was faintly restrained menace. He did snark and he was funny, but it was more of a dark humor as opposed to endless fucking snark and sass.
They’ve framed him as Dean Winchester 2.0 (right down to the misogyny, btw) and it’s trite.
I feel as though part of why Constantine bombed was because it was a procedural. It was super formulaic and even the twists that we did get weren’t enough to save us from the monotony. It was like watching Supernatural only somehow worse despite having more regular characters of color who weren’t stuck in the background.
So of course, Lucifer is an actual supernatural police procedural.
Because that makes all the sense in the world.
You’ve got a powerful former angel in Los Angeles and the one thing you think to do with the show is a freaking police procedural where he helps solve crimes? What a waste of the character. It’s not any more accessible to new viewers because they’ve entertained a shallow reading of the original series.
The Sandman literally covered what would happen if Lucifer left hell to itself. So did Lucifer. Apparently the people behind the show couldn’t think of a way to incorporate Remiel, Duma, and the Silver City in mentions early on.
Delilah dies as a result of male entitlement and serves to alight Lucifer’s man-angel-pain.
Lauren German’s Chloe Decker is basically a generic lady cop hero. The “single mom dealing with her hot new lust object and ex while solving strange crimes” thing isn’t even that novel considering that The Mysteries of Laura does it much better and has Laz Alonzo showing up in all his glory. She’s so generic that if I look away from the screen, I can’t tell you what color her eyes are.
She has promise as a character because she’s eager and actively calling Lucifer out on his shit but they’re going to go the love triangle route with her, Lucifer, and Dan so who knows how long that’s going to last.
Why’d they recast Dan?
Nicholas Gonzalez (sexy detective Luke Morales on Sleepy Hollow season one) was originally Dan. He was in the pilot. He was perfect and had great chemistry with Lauren German. Kevin Alejandro basically is forgettable. I can’t remember what he looks like and I don’t see how he can stand up against Lucifer from a sheer shallow reading.
The sexual harassment.
Chloe Decker, our female lead, is actually sexually harassed by like two different people. Lucfer is one of them. About ten minutes into the first episode and their first meeting, Lucifer interjects while Chloe is trying to interview him about Delilah’s death:
Lucifer: Now, are you sure that we haven’t met? I could swear that I’ve seen you naked. Have we had sex?
He brings this up later on in the episode in front of a group of people that Chloe is trying to talk to about Delilah’s murder, humiliating her and completely undermining her authority as a police officer. This time though, he brings up the fact that he remembers where he’s seen her. She was in a movie where she had a nude scene and that’s why she seems familiar. We proceed to have all of the men in the room objectify her and stare at her as though they can see through her shirt.
For me, this counts as sexual harassment and it’s terrible that it’s shown as something that’s funny.
How about the misogyny – both from Lucifer and within the show as a whole?
First, there are the repeated comments about Chloe’s body.
Then when Trixie tells Lucifer her name he goes “That’s a hooker’s name”. To a seven year old. Because it’s not good TV unless we can compound misogyny, sex & sex worker shaming, and letting little girls know that grown men will find ways to sexualize aspects of their identity before they’re pubescent.
Throughout the episode, Lucifer’s constant humiliation of women is played for laughs. He interrupts a wedding and gets the bride to embarrass herself in front of her (admittedly ugly and awful) fiancé. His comments to and around Chloe. The wife of that actor Delilah was sleeping with gets a front row seat to her husband confessing that he’s cheating on her and then is compelled (by Lucifer) to tell him that she’s cheating as well.
All for laughs.
On top of that, the idea that Lucifer is so sexy that women can’t help themselves and their need to leap into his pants is terrifying and disgusting. Linda Martin, his psychologist in the future, is literally panting after him like she’s in heat and okay, I’m sex positive as fuck but that was dehumanizing. Woman literally lose their confidence and humanity when faced with Lucifer who objectifies every woman he interacts with in the episode.
What the hell?
There’s a shit ton of racism in Lucifer that starts and ends with Lucifer’s interactions with the rapper 2Vile. Even when he’s just mentioned during the wedding scene, he and his crew are called “gun toting thugs” by a white character.
The show’s racism only gets more obvious from there.
2Vile is one of those rappers, you see. He parties hard, does a lot of drugs, and oh yeah, has a posse that has lots of guns. He’s framed as the classless antithesis of Lucifer who comes into his house in a sleek suit and just oozes condescension. You know what else he oozes?
Specifically and obviously, anti-black racism.
Lucifer: *walks into the room where they are playing pretty decent modern rap music* Can someone please turn down this god-awful music! Hello! Disc Jockey! Thank you.
Then when 2Vile says that Lucifer Morningstar is a “good hip-hop name”, Lucifer retorts:
Lucifer: Well, that offends me.
2Vile: What, you don’t like hip-hop?
Lucifer: No, I most certainly do not.
2Vile: Well, that offends me. You have a problem with Black people?
Lucifer: No, not in the slightest. I just hate your music. *laughs* And when I say your music, I specifically mean “your music”, not the music made by other black people. Without the blues, there’d be no devil’s music whatsoever.
He then goes onto a brief rant about how blues is a great genre and how 2Vile isn’t a giant in the field.
Because the devil is a racist.
That’s obviously what we’re supposed to take from it.
Honestly, if you completely dismiss rap and hip-hop the way that Lucifer did from a single portion of a song, chances are that you’re at least a little bit racist. In Lucifer’s case, since he follows it up by dangling 2Vile off of a balcony in the quest to get answers after 2Vile calls Delilah a bitch, he’s more than a little bit racist.
The blues aren’t objectively better than hip-hop. All of our music as African Americans can be charted along a line that comes from negro spirituals and goes to blues and jazz and then gets to r&b, rap, and hip-hop. Our music is entirely ours and layered and linear and for Lucifer to dismiss hip-hop as lesser than the blues in the way that hipsters all over the world do is galling.
The thing about Lucifer in the comics is that he’s not just not a racist, but he’s also not a dick.
This Lucifer comes across as both.
That back and forth between Lucifer and 2Vile is both pointless and racist. It adds nothing to the episode but it does foster my anger at the way that Lucifer has been developed as a character. It’s jarring and several people on my dashboard and timeline talked about how that specific scene pulled them out of enjoying the show.
Racism isn’t cute, funny, or something that makes you like a character.
Overall, Lucifer sucks as a show.
It’s one-dimensional with characters who aren’t likeable and dialogue that tries too hard to be funny. It doesn’t work as a police procedural where Lucifer plays tagalong to a long-suffering lady cop. We’ve seen it in Supernatural and it wasn’t that hot then. Lucifer would’ve been a good thriller, something that looked at what it meant to be fallen and yet distanced from everything that you knew. It could have been thinky, philosophical and introspective about what it means to be a person.
Right now, Lucifer is just like any number of shallow shows about cops and the preternatural beings that loved them. At this point, I’d rather watch that (probably canceled) Beauty and the Beast adaptation with Kristen Kreuk because it’s definitely more focused on ladies and relationships that center women than Lucifer is in the pilot.
And you know….
It’s not a racist and misogynistic trainwreck.
If you want to be captivated by Lucifer, invest in Mike Carey’s series or the new Holly Black-led comic. You won’t end up as angry as often and they’re both miles better than the television show will ever be.