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TV Series Review

Lucifer’s not such a bad guy. Or at least that’s what Fox would like you to believe.

Sure, he led one eensie-weensy rebellion against the Almighty. And what did he get for this trouble? An eternity in hell, ruling over a host of demons who took part in the rebellion and, of course, the pitiful humans sent there. But no matter. What did Satan say in John Milton's Paradise Lost? "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven."

Still, lording it over folks in hell is no Sunday brunch, either, and Lucifer’s decided to take a vacation. He’s opened a nightclub in Los Angeles (which seems fitting), and in his spare time he helps his new mortal detective pal, Chloe, solve an infernally difficult case or two. Because if there’s anything that Lucifer has discovered that he hates, it’s people who break the law.

Ah, the irony.

A Spoonful of Brimstone Makes the Episodes Go Down

Let’s say this right up front: Fox’s Lucifer is just all kinds of wrong. Ripped from the pages of DC Comics’ Sandman series (along with a spinoff series or two of his own), this Lucifer is a handsome antihero who doesn’t seem as much evil (by contemporary standards) as a misunderstood, put-upon ex-angel with a wicked sense of humor.

Which means the theological issues here are legion.

Granted, you don’t go looking to a cheeky, supernatural-themed Fox crime procedural for theological truth. But even if we brazenly disregarded all of those theological issues, there’d still be plenty to worry about. Lucifer, for one thing, is a charming little devil—oozing an ever-so-attractive British accent and sporting just the right amount of stubble to make every female in range swoon. (Well, every female except Chloe and her 7-year-old daughter, Trixie.) Lucifer can—and often does—sleep with said females, too.

The dastardly dude's clearly not offended by foul language. Booze and drugs are obviously par for the course considering Lucifer’s gig as the owner of a salacious nightclub. It's intimated that Lucifer smokes (and why wouldn't he?). And death swirls around him like so much sulfuric mist—harsh, bloody and sometimes with the threat of worse torments to come.

Stirring Up Sympathy for the Devil

For those who have no particular religious inclinations, Lucifer fits snugly in a certain popular subgenre: cops teaming up with quirky-but-gifted partners to nab the bad guys. And thought about in that way, Lucifer doesn’t feel all that different from Elementary or Limited or Blindspot or Castle or many other TV crime shows.

But what does it mean when the quirky-but-gifted partner is the bad guy? And not just a run-of-the-mill bad guy, but the ultimate personification of all that is evil? Is it overstatement here to admit that Lucifer calls to mind a certain passage from Isaiah? “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Lucifer tells us, rightly, that he doesn’t make us sin; he just clears the way for us to do it ourselves. But then Lucifer dives off the deep end into the lake (of fire) by posing the anti-theological question: Should the devil himself be forgiven? Can he be redeemed? The demon Maze seems to fear exactly that as she questions Lucifer's commitment to evil, telling him that the human race is changing him. Softening him.

This, naturally, shoots right off the biblical course. But it does something else, too: It slyly suggests that there’s something in our humanity that is more winsome than heavenly divinity (which onscreen is represented by the dark, brooding angel Amenadiel, who seems positioned to be the show’s real villain). That kind of thinking certainly undercuts the reality of our fractured human nature—that everything good about us comes from our Heavenly Father, and that everything bad comes from the hellish sin that is now woven into our fallen selves, manipulated by the devil and his demons, God tells us.

In this TV world, Amenadiel and the Christians who believe in such things as archangels and God's righteous reign are the real bad guys. We're the harsh and judgmental ones, unwilling to let Lucifer have his procedural fun.

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Episode Reviews

May 28, 2018: "Once Upon a Time"
Lucifer: Mar. 19 2018 "Lucifer"
Lucifer - Jan. 25, 2016 "Pilot"



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Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar; Lauren German as Chloe Dancer; Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazikeen; Kevin Alejandro as Dan; Rachael Harris as Linda; D.B. Woodside as Amenadiel; Scarlett Estevez as Trixie; Tom Welling as Marcus Pierce; Tricia Helfer as Charlotte and Aimee Garcia as Ella Lopez






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