In the midst of chaos, prestige drama sometimes demands too much. In theory, I’d love to be watching season 3 of Westworld right now, a series I’d typically place among my favorites. But if I can barely recall what day it is in real life, how am I supposed to follow multiple timelines? What I need in times of trouble is a campy comfort show that’s easy to follow, nice to look at, and clever enough to make me laugh a little. Fantasy crime procedural Lucifer, very loosely based on Neil Gaiman’s character in The Sandman and subsequent solo spinoff comic, is the right mix of silly and sexy for a proper binge.
Lucifer launched on Fox in 2016, where it spent three seasons before being canceled, vociferously mourned by fans, and resurrected on Netflix for season four. The first half of season five drops this Friday, with reportedly a season and a half more to go after that before this devil’s finally had his due. But even right this very minute, with four seasons already available to stream, you’ve got yourself a good, long binge.
Lucifer’s premise is ludicrous but roll with it. Tired of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar leaves his throne and settles in Los Angeles where he opens a nightclub and engages in Earthly debauchery. When he witnesses a murder, he meets straight-laced LAPD Homicide Detective Chloe Decker. Despite their obvious differences, the pair hit it off and become a crime-solving duo. Even though Lucifer can’t be trusted to act like a professional most of the time, his uncanny ability to make nearly anyone confess their deepest desires proves a useful skill in solving murders.
One thing that carries over from the comics is that Lucifer refuses to lie outright, contrary to the devil’s popular nickname, “the prince of lies.” He may omit the truth, but when asked, he’ll tell it to you straight. As a result, he’s candid about the fact that he’s the literal devil, but none of the mortals he engages with believe him, instead deciding his eccentricities are part of some elaborate metaphor.
Would the LAPD take on some weird club owner who’s always claiming to be the Lord of Hell as a crime consultant and let him traipse around murder scenes? Uh, unlikely. But with Lucifer, it’s best not to overthink it. And once you get past that, the procedural episodes are fun and formulaic, while the overarching narratives are compelling enough to prompt you to select ‘next episode.’ It doesn’t hurt that Tom Ellis’s Lucifer oozes charm or that everyone in the show is very attractive.
They also do some fun things with the Biblical drama. Lucifer isn’t the villain of the show, but a complicated, more sympathetic fallen angel. This is akin to Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the text Gaiman based his character on.
Meanwhile, Buffy alum D.B. Woodside plays Amenadiel, Lucifer’s angelic brother who repeatedly tries to coax the devil back to Hell while attempting to understand humanity in occasionally hilarious mishaps. Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), the demonic head torturer of Hell who followed Lucifer to Earth, does the same from the opposite perspective. Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris) is the celestial group’s therapist, doing her best to navigate Lucifer’s daddy issues (or, his beef with God) and her budding friendship with the leather-wearing, knife-throwing Mazikeen. She’s also the kindest when it comes to Lucifer’s “metaphor” that happens to be literal and frequently serves as the show’s moral compass.
There’s also plenty of romance to remind you of the days when you could go on dates and, you know, touch people. Lucifer and Chloe engage in a classic will-they-won’t-they. This is often hindered by Chloe’s more traditional lifestyle and Lucifer’s hedonistic urges, as evidenced in the episode where they parade in a seemingly endless line of men and women Lucifer has slept with. Meanwhile, the angels and demons of the series engage in their own romantic misadventures.
It’s also worth noting that Ellis’s Lucifer has made an appearance in the Arrowverse, briefly sparring with John Constantine in “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Now, if you’re a comics or a TV purist, this may be too lowbrow for you, despite the few common threads. (Lucifer owns a piano bar called Lux in both, for instance.) But if you’re someone who’s enjoyed similar detective occult fiction—Grimm, iZombie, Angel—and you need something easy to binge, give this one a whirl. It won’t make your brain hurt and it’s best enjoyed while in bed, maybe with a decadent dessert. Devil’s food cake?
Seasons 1-4 of Lucifer are now streaming on Netflix. Season 5, Part 1 premieres this Friday, August 21st.
Juliet Bennett Rylah writes about horror comics and the dark side of superheroes for DCComics.com. Check out more of her writing on WeLikeLA, No Proscenium and IGN, and be sure to follow her on Twitter at @JBRylah.