Almost before it was properly in development at Fox, Christian groups were up in arms over Lucifer. A quirky police procedural that has at its heart, and as its hero, the Father of All Lies (Tom Ellis) was, I suppose, always going to rile up some controversy, but even after a full season they are still at it, calling for boycotts and getting up petitions and I have to believe this is because they have never actually seen the show.
For a start, because no show on television believes in God so unequivocally.
Lucifer may be the poster boy for daddy issues and may, at times, complain about his Dad’s fabled “plan” for us all, but he at no point questions that such a thing exists. And he doesn’t let the viewer question it either. Oh, there are some atheists in residence — most notably, Lucifer’s detective partner, Chloe Decker (Lauren German) is on record has having no religion to speak of — but even she was so convinced that Lucifer was a celestial being that she shot him, at his urging, since he is both immortal and invulnerable. (Not, it turns out, when Chloe is around, but that’s another story.)
Also, as depicted on this show, Hell is a truly horrific place to be sent to, all torture and screaming and seconds feeling like days or months as you are punished for all your earthly wickedness for eternity. I am a hard line atheist myself, utterly and unreservedly convinced that God is a lie and Hell is a myth, and I can tell you, I have had more than an occasional moment’s pause over what may happen to me should I be posthumously proved wrong, merely from this show’s vivid word pictures. And isn’t that kind of the whole point of church? To scare us into following doctrine?
The doctrine of Lucifer is simple. God sent his favorite son to reign over Hell, his task to punish those who do wrong upon the Earth. This pitiless job went on for some millennia — Lucifer’s exact age is left vague, probably to account for the Creationist four-thousand-years-old theory, would be my guess — until, only five years pre-show, Lucifer grew tired of the torture game. He decided to take a vacation. In Los Angeles, naturally. Now, with money, looks, talent (Beelzebub is one hell of a lounge singer), charm and the eerie ability to compel confessions from even the strongest of minds, he has teamed up with the LAPD’s most stalwart of renegades — a woman both stunningly beautiful and oddly immune to his voodoo — in order to solve grisly homicides and just generally not be bored anymore. In so doing, Lucifer explores his nascent humanity (he’s in therapy, even) while fending off his angel brother Amenadiel (D. B. Woodside), who is very tired of doing Satan duty.
Outraged criticisms leveled at the show have included its alleged romanticizing of the Devil, and I’ll not deny that the way he wears his custom Italian suits and attracts an ever growing harem of Britneys might lead one to think we’re supposed to admire him greatly. But he is also portrayed as selfish, egotistical, decadent, prurient, rude, arrogant and completely ruthless–and he dislikes children. While his wit and sly, knowing smile may be attractive on the surface, the show is at great pains to make it clear that he is no saint. Misunderstood, yes. Good, no.
And ALL. THAT. GOD. Honestly, Christians, what more could you possibly want?
I mean, I can understand those of certain absolute faiths being cross with Supernatural. In that ecclesiastical universe, God has abandoned us and his angels are either power-hungry dicks or woebegone followers desperate to be told who to slaughter next. But in Lucifer, God is watching. Angels are doing His bidding and desperate for His love. And sure, then one of them slept with a demon, but that can be attributed to the corrupting influence of Lucifer — he corrupts people all the time; another blow for Christianity! — and/or doing his job. Because apparently someone has to.
Again, I don’t believe in Hell. And if there is a Lucifer, I am certain he isn’t hanging out in deluxe LA hotspots belting out spirituals and tossing back expensive whisky. But if anything is going to convince me to give religion any further consideration, it is a show like this, bringing forth ephemeral theological concepts as simple matters of fact rather than agonizing debate, and then hiding it all under sex, drugs and crime solving.
So, back off, Christians! Lucifer is doing your work for you. You really don’t have anything to worry about.
Except for maybe the scene where Lucifer took confession. That made even me a little uncomfortable.
Lucifer returns Monday, September 19, at 9/8C on Fox.