If you can imagine Satan roaming around the streets of Los Angeles like he’s Justin Bieber, circa 2013—driving a fast car, catching the interested stares from both girls and boys at the bars, and getting into trouble with the law, the ladies, and the Lord all at the same time—you’ll have a pretty good idea of how Fox’s new TV show, Lucifer, begins.
That’s right, America—Fox is bringing a show about Satan to primetime. Nobody’s shocked, really. This is a network owned by a company that, for years, has enabled the public with nightly doses of Bill O’Reilly. Moreover, some Americans—likely Bill O’Reilly fans—have long decried Fox as one of the Devil’s Networks, suggesting that shows like Family Guy and/or Glee to be the feces of Satan.
Of course, it’s obvious why Fox is taking a chance on Lucifer. Like the network’s semi-hit show Gotham, the lead character is derived from a DC Comics series, a trend that a lot of networks—from Netflix to The CW—are following, banking huge budgets on shows adapted from comic book characters.
In Lucifer, the devil incarnate is loosely based on “Lucifer Morningstar”—a character that debuted in DC Comics’ The Sandman in 1989 and later headlined its own eponymously-titled series. In Fox’s version of Lucifer, an hourlong dramedy that stars Wales native Tom Ellis as the charming Prince of (semi) Darkness, Satan is a bored, uninspired and likable supernatural human who, without giving notice, decides to take a leave of absence from Hell and search for a little excitement in LA.
Within the first few minutes of the Fox-planned 13-episode arc, we learn that Lucifer is not only a smooth-talking well-dressed smartass with a penchant for cracking punch lines and quipping smartly worded comebacks, he’s also a self-identifying victim—somebody who thinks he’s been abused by God since the beginning of time.
This fact is delivered when Lucifer gets a surprise visit from Amenadiel, another angelic creature who has just flown in from Heaven with a message for Lucifer from God—go back to hell immediately!
Side note: The role of Amenadiel is played by D.B. Woodside, whom you might remember played “Wayne Palmer,” one of the former Presidents of the United States from 24. And guess what? In Lucifer, Woodside looks exactly like 24’s former POTUS, except he’s donning enormous angel wings. Sadly, though he was impressive playing a president, here, as an angel with huge wings, Woodside comes off as uncomfortable at best.
However, during their conversation, Lucifer refers to himself as a “mere pawn,” one who is only filling the role of an “inherently evil” antagonist in a play written and directed by “dear ol’ Dad,” which is how Lucifer refers to God.
Through a series of events, Lucifer eventually realizes that nabbing criminals brings him a certain amount of solace, even joy—and to that end, he starts helping the LAPD catch bad guys. That, at least according to the first episode, will become an ongoing weekly gig for our villain (or is it hero?)—it’s hard to know, really.
Honestly, there’s a lot to like about Lucifer—it’s sharply written and, except for Woodside’s angel, is well casted. And Ellis’s delivery as Satan is quite good, in fact, maybe too good. In Episode 1, Lucifer is way too much of a good guy at times—he cries, he second-guesses, heck, he even feels mercy. A likable Satan isn’t a bad idea. In fact, most people—even those who believe in Satan—would be OK with Satan being a likable villain. But that uncertainty—whether Hell’s onetime overseer is good, bad, or cute and lovable—might ultimately become the show’s fall from grace.
As one might expect, Lucifer’s “good guy” storyline has sparked a good bit of backlash from several large Christian groups, including the American Family Association (AFA) and One Million Moms. Not only have both organizations initiated online campaigns against Lucifer, asking Fox to remove it from its schedule, they’ve also actively campaigned against the show on social media. That said, Fox likely isn’t listening to the faith-based noise, since marketing this show to Christians would be rather fruitless.
However, oddly enough, Fox might end up needing to pay attention to the complaints of those Christian moms. Because they’re honestly not wrong about Lucifer. In fact, the reasons why those 1 million moms (or just 80,000 moms as is the case on Facebook) are decrying the show might become the same reasons the network’s target demographic loses interest—because Lucifer is too pretty, too human, too conscientious, too much like Robin Hood. And while walking that good/bad line works for a variety of other characters, I’m just not sure that a sincerely good Satan is a sellable concept for the long haul.
In fact, even before its debut, the show’s Facebook page has garnered several comments from concerned potential viewers about Lucifer’s good-guy persona. One of the show’s fans put it like this: “I am definitely tuning in for the start of the season but if the show is going to make Lucifer a naughty good boy instead of a charming evil, I am not interested.”
Ironically, Lucifer might end up being “too good” for people who have no interest in watching and “not bad enough” for those who do.