As far as major network shows go, Fox’s Lucifer is pretty good. Its first season, which aired from late January to late April of 2016, featured thirteen episodes of varying quality. It was off to a shaky start, but finished out the season with a consistent tone and interesting characters.
Based loosely off of The Sandman and Lucifer DC Comics, the show’s titular character is depicted as a cheeky Englishman with supernaturally irresistible charm. As the fallen favourite son of God cast out of heaven for refusing to follow orders, Lucifer Morningstar (played by the dreamy Tom Ellis) has reigned over Hell for millennia. However, sometime before the beginning of the in-show timeline, Lucifer became bored with Hell and decided to move to Los Angeles to run a night club instead.
This remains one of my biggest problems with the premise. Of all of the places in the world, why would Lucifer pick LA? I can understand running a night club; the show uses the club’s setting as a scene for all sorts of debauchery that seems right up Lucifer’s alley. But LA? Not Amsterdam, Vegas, Hong Kong? There are so many more interesting settings, in my eyes.
Oh, and also, Lucifer is a police procedural. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who is confused.
Through a series of unbelievable events, Morningstar becomes involved with Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) of the LAPD. Lucifer uses his cool powers of persuasion to make it so that no one is really bothered by him involving himself in all of her cases, despite his not being a cop. Almost every review I’ve read points to this procedural formula as Lucifer’s Achilles heel. The police stuff is not what makes this show compelling.
So what does make it compelling? And why am I talking about it on a queer website?
Firstly, the show has amazing casting. The chemistry between Lucifer and… well, everyone, but especially Detective Decker, is expertly portrayed by Ellis. The supporting cast is just as impressive, featuring especially remarkable performances from D.B. Woodside as Lucifer’s brooding angel brother Amenadiel; Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazikeen/“Maze,” a demon warrior turned bartender at Lucifer’s club; Rachael Harris as Lucifer’s hilariously naïve therapist; and Scarlett Estevez as Beatrice “Trixie” Espinoza, Detective Decker’s adorable little kid who is fully on Team Lucifer.
Beyond that, as someone who’s a total nerd for angel and demonology, the show does a great job of walking the line between a tradition that’s thousands of years old, and current pop culture. Furthermore, the writers never fail to give Ellis hilarious lines, which he delivers without flaw every time. And the soundtrack, oh the soundtrack! You need to sample the songs from any given episode of Lucifer – they are, pardon the pun, divine. Except, maybe don’t sample Tom Ellis’ singing. He’s not bad, but you know, I feel like the Devil should be a little more Sam Smith, a little less over-eager-dad-in-church.
You may be thinking “cool, I’m glad you like the show, but what about the queerness?” Here’s where it gets interesting. Lucifer Morningstar is pansexual… maybe?
Our first real hint of this was in the second episode, when Lucifer was involved in a casual threesome with a man and a woman. Of course, it was an opportunity for one of his signature glib remarks (“It’s called the Devil’s Threesome for a reason!”), but it was also a hint at something about the character’s sexuality.
As someone who’s perpetually on the hunt for queer television characters, especially those guaranteed to survive more than one season, my gaydar started pinging like there was no tomorrow. I was on the lookout for the rest of the season, eager for more obvious demonstrations of Lucifer’s queerness.
Unfortunately, things remained vague. More than one male hits on Lucifer during the course of the first season, but they’re generally met with tepid responses and a return to the Devil’s focus on women – especially Detective Decker.
This is where I feel myself slipping. On the one hand, I desperately want him to be more openly queer. I’d love to see him have a sustained interaction with a same-sex love interest, in the same way that he carried flirtationships with many women throughout the first season. But on the other hand, I see that a significant portion of his arc in this first season was realizing that he was falling in love with Detective Decker. And just because Chloe’s a woman, does that mean Lucifer’s queerness is erased? Is it really happening? Is the pansexual person erasing her fellow [fictional] man’s identity?
Well, I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that, but I did feel that way about myself at some points while I watched the show. Especially with this new piece of information to process: Tom Ellis himself has confirmed that Lucifer will sleep with anyone who interests him.
In an interview by Jim Halterman for My XFINITY, Ellis hearkens back to ancient times, saying that Lucifer is similar to “the Greek God, Bacchus.” While that comparison is perhaps a bit regrettable (someone may want to write a letter to Ellis letting him know that it’s not just the ancients who have the capability to love humans as humans), the rest of the actor’s response was pleasantly open-minded. In this small interview, Ellis has confirmed that the lead character of a large network show is queer.
FOX has a great opportunity to address Lucifer’s queerness, and to expound upon that further. However, the centrality of Lucifer’s relationship with Detective Decker seems to suggest that Mr. Morningstar won’t be pursuing love elsewhere anytime soon. And perhaps that’s revolutionary, in and of itself: to show a pan character loving someone for who they are, period.
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