An Ode to Lucifer

“People don’t arrive broken. They start with passion and yearning till something comes along that disabuses them of those notions” -Lucifer Morningstar

Lucifer Morningstar, portrayed brilliantly by Tom Ellis (Isn’t it Romantic?) is the epitome of a broken man. He’s tortured, brooding, and addicted to all substances from cocaine to whiskey. Well-dressed in Gucci and Prada, complete with three-piece suits and pocket squares, Lucifer (Bruckheimer, 2016), is a welcome respite from the onslaught of basic bros that plague our screens. How many shows do we need about vapid breeders struggling with their boring, hetero marriages?

Whatever happened to entertainment as escapism? What we need right now is Lucifer, a gorgeous, intelligent, fallen angel saving us a from a life of ennui. Lucifer came onto the stage in 2016, originally got mixed reviews, and is now one of the most streamed and beloved series on Netflix. With witty dialogue, beautiful cinematography, and inspired acting, it’s easy to see why there are so many Lucifans all over the world.

Lucifans, or Lucifer fans, took to social media in defense of this hedonistic, crime-fighting show, saving it after Fox’s cancellation. Lucifer now lives on Netflix and is returning for a fifth and final season (Lucifans are fighting for a sixth season). While season 4 left a bit to be desired, the series is absolutely, fucking brilliant. Each scene is carefully set up, with breathtaking shots of California, the City of Angels where Lucifer spends his retirement from Hell. Attention to detail is one of the greatest aspects of Lucifer. From dialogue, fashion, characters, setting, and music, everything is skillfully created, rendering a beautifully fictional world where the Dark Prince helps the LAPD.

Based on characters from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series, the show’s plot is not actually based on the comic. During a press junket for Lucifer’s pilot episode, Tom Ellis (Lucifer) stated that this show does not follow The Sandman plot in any way. Yet fans who don’t stalk Tom Ellis on social media may have missed those sound bites and expected something different. Lucifer, though made by DC Comics, is not a show for comic book fans. I’d be pretty pissed if they turned the Fight Club novel into something like Riverdale, so I get the frustration.

Make no mistake, Lucifer is not a powerful and intelligent drama. It’s pure folly and that’s why I love it. Lucifer is for people like me who grew up watching Beverly Hills: 90210 (1990) and Dawson’s Creek (1998). (Lucifer has a Dawson’s Creek writer on staff). Lucifer isfor fans who want to see a sexy, well-dressed man in eyeliner play the piano, tears streaming down his face, singing a haunting rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Fans who want to see the Devil driving a 1962 Corvette C1 down Pacific Coast Highway. Once Lucifer found its audience (anyone mourning the loss of Vampire Diaries) its popularity soared. The season 4 trailer exemplifies Lucifer’s intended audience.

While Lucifer is not a perfectly crafted character, I think he’s the best portrayal of the Devil I’ve seen onscreen. Having never read the bible, my only knowledge of heaven and hell comes from Milton’s Paradise Lost and Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. In Lucifer, the Devil bears semblance to Frankenstein’s monster (Shelley), once a humane and trusting being, transformed into a humanity-free villain after years of torture and exile. Like Shelley’s monster, Lucifer was not born broken but devolved into a mere shadow of himself after his creator shunned him. Lucifer’s father (God) banished the Devil to hell to punish lost souls while the rest of the family stayed in Heaven. Lucifer is a brooding intellectual who drowns his sorrows in a sleazy club, dropping lit cigarettes with a level of ennui that would make Camus proud.

What allows Lucifer’s character to shine are his interactions with the richly rendered characters in his world. Lucifer works as a civilian consultant with LAPD’s finest, Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), Detective Douche (Kevin Alejandro), and forensic scientist Lopez (Aimee Garcia). While many shows have one token person of color (POC) to satisfy the incredibly low diversity standards of Hollywood, Lucifer actually has a racially diverse cast. And, for a change, the POC are not playing drug dealers, prostitutes, and sidekicks. Lucifer’s brother, Amenadiel (DB Woodside, Suits), is the perfect antithesis to the Dark Prince’s character. Compassionate, strong, and fearless, Amenadiel is a well-written antagonist, revealing the deep insecurities in Lucifer’s character. DB Woodside is fifty, yet still looks as sexy as he did over a decade ago, when he was in 24 (2003).

The show even created empowering roles for women. Instead of being quiet, submissive, wine-drinking divorcees, the women in Lucifer as crime-fighting, badass bitches, who can take down a villain in seconds. Instead of being randomly sexualized, the female characters have actual agency, intelligence, and careers in places of power. From Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), the knife-wielding, pansexual demon, to Dr. Martin (Rachael Harris), the psychologist brave enough to counsel Lucifer, the women in this show are incredible. While female TV characters have progressed considerably, we are still inundated with a slew of infantilized, unintelligent, basic bitches. At this point, Netflix should just have a failing, straight, white marriage section.

For example, Zooey Deschanel’s pathetic portrayal of a female intellectual as baby-talking, porn fetish in New Girl (2011) definitely took the women’s rights movement back a few decades. It’s refreshing to see female characters like Detective Chloe Decker, fighting crime in jeans a ponytail, while raising her daughter Trixie to be an empowered woman. And it’s really fucking cool to learn about Lucifer through the eyes of psychologist, Dr. Martin. It’s quite rare that female characters are permitted to have a college degree, much less a Ph.D. like Dr. Martin.

It’s Lucifer’s interactions with Chloe a single, working mother, kicking ass in a male-dominated field, that truly transform his character. When Lucifer first meets Chloe, he’s just a solipsistic club-owner with no humanity. By the fourth season, Chloe has transformed Lucifer into a loving, vulnerable man, capable of forgiving his worst enemy, himself. Lucifer follows in the footsteps of brooding bad boys such as Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), Brian Kinney (Gale Harold), and Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia).

Brooding bad boys appear to be a thing of the past, so it’s refreshing to see a character like Lucifer exist now, a decade populated by happy, khaki-clad, douche bags. Beautiful black hair, a sexy British accent, and washboard abs make Tom Ellis the perfect Lucifer. (Tom is technically from Wales, but Britain rules everything so relax). In my eyes, Lucifer is the perfect man. He’s honest, unconcerned with traditional masculinity, and insanely well-spoken. Lucifer’s lines are one of the strongest aspects of the show (I’ve included my favorite Luci lines at the end).

Lucifer is the only show I know of that is concerned with historically accurate dialogue. Mostly, shows like Game of Thrones (2011) obviously placed in medieval times, have characters speaking in 2019 parlance, which is jarring, to say the least. Watching GoT is like seeing a badly dubbed movie where the dialogue is on a five-second delay from the rest of the action. Though GoT fans claim that fantasy doesn’t have to follow rules, it’s still nice when the writers try.

By stark contrast, Lucifer’s lines are a calculated blend of contemporary language and archaic verbiage more befitting of an immortal being. It hearkens back to the ’90s when TV dialogue was actually witty. Language may not matter to most fans, but for us literary nerds, anachronistic dialogue is a deal-breaker. (Seriously people, the line is summarized as “hell has no fury” not “hell hath no fury.” Congreve wrote it, not Shakespeare. End of rant).

While Lucifer is well-written, has a talented cast, and shows female and male nudity, it’s not a perfect show. The show’s main problem is its portrayal of sexuality and LGBTQ+ narratives. Lucifer’s sexuality is specifically problematic as there appears to be a slew of writers who can’t quite decide who, or what Lucifer is. Originally presented as a hetero fuckboy, we are introduced to Lucifer as club-owner, womanizer, and overall lush. It makes absolutely no sense that Lucifer owns a nightclub called Lux. It’s irrelevant to the plot, characterization, and the overall tone of the show. Lucifer is already a detective, the Devil, romantic interest, tortured protagonist, why add club owner? (I blame Californication writer, Tom Kapinos for this story arc).

Humanity-free and full of cash, Lucifer preys on vapid women with daddy issues. Then a few episodes into the first season, Lucifer is arbitrarily presented as bisexual even though he doesn’t believe in relationships with men. I can only imagine the writers’ room full of straight dudes who pitched the idea to make Lucifer “kinda gay, but like, still, a straight fuckboy.” Lucifer doesn’t question his sexuality, doesn’t have a relationship with a man, and forgets this arc entirely.

Though Chloe’s love for Lucifer helps transform his old fuckboy ways into a loving, potentially monogamous boyfriend, the season four writers fucked that up royally. Instead of another brilliant villain like Cain (Tom Welling), we get daft, annoying, Eve (Inbar Lavi, Twlilight: Breaking Dawn). Season four missed an opportunity to see Lucifer in a loving relationship with Chloe (or a man). Instead, we get a vapid, appletini-drinking club girl (seriously, appletinis for Eve?) who brings out the fuckboy in Lucifer. Chloe and Lucifer’s love story gets banished yet again, just so we can be reminded that Lucifer is a hetero fuckboy.

Similarly, Mazikeen, Lucifer’s fellow demon BFF is presented to us as pansexual yet is denied a relationship with another woman. Mazikeen is a knife-wielding bounty hunter who sleeps with men and women. But much like Lucifer, Mazikeen does not have relationships with anyone of the same sex. Though I appreciate the gratuitous shots of naked Lucifer in season four, they really fucked up LGBTQ+ representation. Why can’t gay characters have loving, healthy relationships with members of the same sex? Why must gay characters’ sexuality be represented solely through sex? Instead of using the show’s departure from the conservative, anesthetized Fox network to show more sex, Lucifer writers should have explored the characters’ sexualities. You’re on Netflix, Lucifer writers, so why are your “gay” characters still straight?

So if you like sex, violence, and, witty repartee, this show is for you. But if you’d prefer an intellectual discourse on good and evil, perhaps not. Really anyone who wants to see Tom Ellis naked (who doesn’t?) will love this show. Stay tuned for season five of Lucifer to see how the Devil fares back in Hell. Here’s hoping next season, Lucifer is a little gayer and less of a fuckboy. See you in hell, Lucifans.

My favorite Lucifer Morningstar quotes:

  • I love LA—even the homeless have an IMDB page.
  • I’m like walking heroin, very habit forming. It never ends well.
  • Children are hideous little creatures. Terrible, taxing burdens.
  • People sometimes kill the people with whom they’re in love. The heart’s mysterious.
  • What I hate more than anything is a liar, a charlatan, someone who doesn’t believe in what they say.
  • My name is Lucifer Morningstar and I love drugs. Love them! Mmm! Yummy, yummy, yummy. Can’t get enough. And I’ve got lots of money mmm, that I love spending on drugs.
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