Lucifer is one of my current favorite shows on television. It’s not exactly progressive, but it is entertaining as heck and has a ton of fun theology that I can sink my teeth into. However, Lucifer isn’t without faults, and while Lucifer as the devil is always somewhat problematic (it’s basically a part of his character at this point), I have had very few issues with how the show discussed sex and consent—until recently.
Trigger warning for discussions of rape culture, and spoilers for Lucifer Episodes 10 and 11 after the jump.
The situation in Lucifer is especially problematic because of how realistic it is, which makes the whole thing even more reprehensible. So what happened that has me so upset? In “Pops”, Chloe receives a text from her ex-husband, with whom she was beginning to reconcile, basically breaking up with her before they even got back together. Chloe shows up drunk at Lucifer’s penthouse complaining about her husband and continuing to drink the alcohol at Lucifer’s place. She then starts to come on to Lucifer and very clearly is offering to have sex with him. Lucifer, however, turns her down, confusing Chloe, who says that Lucifer has been trying to have sex with her from day one. Lucifer seems confused as well, acting as if he would normally jump at the chance, but he ultimately decides it wouldn’t be right to have sex with Chloe while she is drunk. After watching this, I was relieved. I don’t think it’s in character for Lucifer to have sex with someone when they are unable to fully consent, but I know how our culture is and was worried the writers would go in that direction. However, while the writers didn’t have Chloe and Lucifer have sex, I was disconcerted by the assertion that normally Lucifer would have had sex with Chloe drunk. This implies that his recently developing humanity is to blame for his refusal to take advantage of a drunk woman.
The fact that Lucifer seems surprised and acts like usually he would have taken advantage of Chloe makes all his past sexual encounters potentially creepy. Lucifer lives above the piano bar he owns and often is hooking up with women who come into the bar. None of the women who have slept with Lucifer and who patronize the bar have even been written or acted in such a manner that would imply to the audience that they are drunk. But Lucifer’s surprised reaction to rejecting Chloe calls into question his past sexual encounters. It also seems amazingly out of character, as Lucifer seems to pride himself in relying on his sexual magnetism to attract women. Yet the most problematic things happened in the following episode.
In “St. Lucifer”, Lucifer feels good about not taking advantage of Chloe when she was drunk. When he discovers that doing good things can make you feel good, he starts chasing that high and continues to do kind things for people, trying to recreate that feeling. The problem here is that he keeps talking to Chloe about how he didn’t have sex with her while drunk and what a good thing it was. He basically wants praise, a cookie, and a gold star for not raping someone. Let’s be very clear here: not raping someone is just basic human decency. It’s literally the least you can do. The idea that Lucifer should receive any praise for simply not raping someone is revolting. And yet this is so clearly the attitude of our society. It seems we still believe that drinking is somehow a grey area when it comes to sex, and that is really fucked up. What baffles me is that the show even knows to say that Lucifer sleeping with Chloe when she was drunk would be wrong, but then in the very next episode, the incident is painted as if their sleeping together would have just been “a mistake” or “impolite”—not rape.
“St. Lucifer” starts right where the last episode left off. Chloe wakes up naked in Lucifer’s bed. She was so drunk that she doesn’t remember the previous night and thinks that she and Lucifer slept together. Lucifer jokingly acts like they did for a while, and Chloe continuously tells him what happened is a mistake and that they should just forget it. Eventually Lucifer reveals that they didn’t have sex and that Chloe simply took her clothes off because she was hot before passing out on his bed. Later in the episode Chloe seems annoyed with Lucifer thinking he is a saint and trying to do more good things. She doesn’t praise him for not raping her, but when she believed that they did have sex, she didn’t act appalled or upset. Chloe certainly doesn’t view the possibility of them sleeping together, when she was so drunk that she wasn’t even aware what was happening, as rape. She simply characterizes it as a mistake and never chastises Lucifer for thinking himself so praiseworthy for not raping her.
You could argue that Lucifer is still the lesser evil here—the show certainly hasn’t promoted rape culture in the same way other shows, like Game of Thrones, have. However, that doesn’t make it okay. This situation between Chloe and Lucifer is probably one that more than one couple has found themselves in before. It further worries me because the fandom doesn’t seem to have noticed the problematic elements of these two episodes and have mostly seemed to praise Lucifer for showing how people are supposed to react when drunk people come on to them. It’s especially upsetting to me because the show had a chance to make an excellent statement about rape and rape culture and didn’t. Instead the writers took things the worst possible way by asking fans to praise Lucifer for not raping someone.