Why Lucifer Is A Good Example Of Streaming Rescuing Popular Content

Arushi Sinha - 68 weeks ago

Netflix bought out Lucifer, a show from Fox to make it survive; it now has a successful new season and a promising future for this cult show. It also displays the new focus on streaming giants of entertaining, mainstream dramas beyond their staple cerebral shows and historical fictions.

(A still from Lucifer)

Netflix is currently streaming a show that has gotten a new life thanks to the stupendous success of streaming platforms as an entertainment format today. Lucifer, with credentials backed by blockbuster names, a DC Comics character at it’s center and a highly successful director, was killed off by Fox Network; only to be revived with a distinctly different season 4 produced by Netflix. The show is now a success officially and will most probably have a season 5 on the streaming giant. It’s biggest plus points are it’s offbeat story, and a commercially minded, entertaining treatment to an otherwise serious, moral science like matter - good versus evil. 

First, the background of creating this series is nothing short of a safe bet in the current landscape of highly competitive television. Based on a comic book character created for DC by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith and Mike Drigenberg as part of the Sandman series, Lucifer has its own spin-off comic books. Tom Capinos directs it, following up on the extremely well received and near cult, Californication. Warner Bros Television, DC Entertainment and Jerry Bruckheimer Television co-produce the series, with a bevy of prestigious executive producers on board. Bruckheimer is credited with backing the pilots of CSI and Cold Case, among others. 

(A still from Lucifer)

Yet, Lucifer is far from prestige TV. It’s visually sleek, stylized and fast food programming, with thin crime plots to solve while a deep relationship evolves between the complex fallen angel, and an honest nice female detective. Tom Ellis might be the third British actor after Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman to find cult popularity thanks to a TV show, he swings it as the charismatic Lucifer. The manner in which he delivers his sass, sarcasm and the way he expresses his emotions with just his eyes is commendable and the show’s saving grace. 

Lucifer initially received mixed reviews from critics during its first season, but seasons two and three won positive reviews. Despite high viewership for its debut, ratings remained consistently low throughout the series' run on Fox. In May 2018, Fox canceled the series after airing it for three seasons, calling it a ‘ratings-based decision’.

(A still from Lucifer)

Weirdly, the series has a cult following, despite moderate ratings. It has fan pages, fan clubs and trivia websites to it’s credit, devoted to Tom Ellis. It’s this unseen force of popular support that co-show runner Joe Henderson tapped into when he encouraged fans to "make noise" with the hashtag #SaveLucifer. Fans, as well as the cast and crew, rallied on Twitter and #SaveLucifer and #PickUpLucifer soon emerged as the trending hashtags. An online petition also began in order to renew the series for a fourth season. When Netflix stepped in, the show got a shot in its arm, with a fourth season that has become extremely popular. In fact, in honor of fans’ rallying forth to save this series, the penultimate episode is titled #SaveLucifer. 

(A still from Lucifer)

What works best for Lucifer is its blasé irreverence towards God and Biblical mythology. The writers of the show have treated God and other elements related to Him such as Lucifer, the Goddess, Angels and Demons as a regular family who has misunderstandings -  adding a sort of ‘entertaining yet intriguing’ element into the show. Similar to most families, the ‘Father’ doesn’t communicate clearly with his sons, which not only lead to misunderstandings between the members but also leads to extreme reactions and revolts. Yet, the show employs a unique and interesting story-telling tool by making Lucifer visit a therapist and having regular therapy sessions. Why this turns out to be interesting is the fact that it serves as an outlet for the Devil’s emotions and mostly consists of him rambling on about his problems. Here the therapist is a catalyst to self-realization. 

Due to his time on Earth and the influence of those he considers close, Lucifer faces an inner conflict where he wants to be good but he does not want to lose his evil side. This struggle and confusion add to the show’s appeal. Lucifer, his nutty family and conflicts that he faces add up to ideal binge watching. Season 4 ended on a conclusive note, until it’s star, Tom Ellis dropped a tease on Instagram about a potential follow up season. 

Typically, streaming platforms have focused on alternate, qualitative and writing driven content for it’s originals, while acquiring popular binge watches from network television. With Lucifer Season 4, Netflix turns a corner towards mainstream daily soap like shows. With Amazon Prime Video dropping Good Omens, also about angels and demons and starring the delightful David Tenant, Michal Sheen and Miranda Richardson, it’s clear that this space intrigues platforms with deep pockets, and audiences alike. In a strange coincidence, this one is also an adaptation of a novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Clearly Biblical stories aren’t boring anymore.


Lucifer / Netflix / Fox / Tom Ellis / Lauren German / Kevin Alejandro / DC Comics / Neil Gaiman / Sam Keith / Mike Drigenberg / Tom Kapinos

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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