How hit comedy Lucifer, soon to launch it’s fourth season, has revived the crime caper genre for an audience who just want to believe
Dante wrote that there is a special circle in Hell for people who remain neutral. Well, I’ve got a few more groups to add to that list – traffic wardens on commission, homeopaths, sociopaths, life coaches, nutritionists, men with top knots, cold callers, the cast of TOWIE and the 38,502 ‘concerned moms’ who signed a petition calling for Fox to axe hit show Lucifer as it “inaccurately portrays the beliefs of the Christian faith.” Given that the show was created by Tom Kapinos, a middle-aged screenwriter from Long Island, and not by the College of Cardinals in Rome, what exactly did they expect?
In the show, which first piloted in 2016, Satan has become tired of the daily thrash and slash of Hell and has gone all Hollywood. He’s bought himself a convertible Corvette, procured a nightclub and he’s currently residing in a sweet bachelor pad in LA, replete with roaring fireplace.
As the show follows the hall of mirrors format used by a thousand other American programmes, in which every episode is effectively the same story told with different characters, our little devil needs a love interest and in this case it’s the beautiful-but-doesn’t-know-it Detective Chloe Decker, a one-time teen actress turned no-nonsense cop.
Together, Lucifer and Chloe lay down the law one bad guy at a time, all the while being supported by a cast of celestial characters, including seductive demon-come-bounty hunter Mazikeen, Lucifer’s irritably self-righteous brother Amenadiel and, of course, Lucifer’s therapist Linda Martin (this is LA, after all).
I was a latter day convert to this guilty pleasure of a show, only discovering this comedic revelation after its third season and then bingeing to catch-up. However, despite the sheer amount to get through – Season 3 runs for twenty-six episodes – I found it impossible not to get sucked in.
On the face of it, the show has all the superficial ingredients of a hit comedy. Tom Ellis’ caddish, devil-may-care Lucifer Morningstar is the perfect antidote to Lauren German’s dowdy, flat-shoed Detective Decker. Lucifer’s ongoing rift with Chloe’s ex-husband Dan Decker, or “Detective Douche” as he calls him, provides a running joke that makes the audience feel involved. And Mazakeen’s provocative behaviour provides plenty of irreverent moments in front of Chloe’s innocent daughter Trixie.
However, the real genius of the show is that it takes a character portrayed since time immemorial and rewrites the script.
Whereas this show could have been just The Devil Wears Stubble, an easy watch of cheap gags and predictable whodunnits; through well-thought out characters and a clever script, it becomes so much more. It reveals something rawer, realer and altogether more profound for the audience to chew on.
In this alternative TV reality, the Devil can’t lie. He can’t kill. He can’t torture people for fun, nor does he want to. His sole purpose for existence, apart from to get back at his Father in Heaven, is to punish the guilty. In Lucifer, the Devil isn’t the source of all evil, he’s the avenger of it.
His greatest superpower, if you can call it that, is that he has the capacity to find out what it is that you truly desire. He can’t force you to make sinful choices, but he can play on your darkest temptations.
And in this Americanized morality tale, the Deep Below isn’t what you’d expect either. In Lucifer, Hell isn’t a land of fire of brimstone, with ghoulish fiends and nefarious beasts causing chaos. It’s something altogether subtler and more psychologically tormenting than that. It’s the place you go to after death if you’re bedevilled by an intense sense of guilt over what you’ve done in life. Rather than spend all eternity tied to a rack, you while away your days reliving over and over the very incident that caused your deep sense of guilt. In Hell, the door is always open but no one ever leaves.
Whereas the ‘concerned moms’ on onemillionmoms.com are right that this provides a (perhaps unwanted) divergence from the traditional, biblical fable of Satan with his horns and tail; it speaks to a younger, more secular audience, who have given up faith in organized religion but still want to believe in the power of doing right by their fellow man. For a generation that has lost sight of ecclesiastical fervour, this is a Satan we can believe in.
The thousands of maternal protestors did eventually get their way. Not wanting to be hauled over the coals, the Fox Network axed the show shortly after it’s third season. However, when over 200,000 fans signed their own petition calling for Lucifer to be saved, their prayers were answered by none other than that company from on high, Netflix, who will be airing Season 4 in the Spring 2019.
The cast hasn’t given many clues away as to what happens in the new season. At the moment, it remains a mystery. However, when it finally airs, you’ll probably find yourself watching it. Because let’s face it, we all sometimes like to give into a little temptation, don’t we?