As much as I love genre fiction, I’ll admit that most mainstream genre movies and TV shows are fairly sexist. Even if they don’t obviously reinforce stereotypes or display misogynist behavior, the violence enacted against women is often in higher proportion to what their male counterparts must endure. Enter Lost Girl, a Canadian-produced TV show whose title might seem to indicate more of the same, but which is a delightful and welcome entry into the world of genre television.
Lost Girl was created by a woman (Michelle Lovretta) and many of the episodes are written and directed by women. In addition, the gender makeup of the principal cast is half female and half male. The main character, Bo (Anna Silk) is a succubus who is trying to find her way in the world of the Fae (also known as fairy folk) while not committing to either the Light Fae or Dark Fae.
Bo also doesn’t commit to a sexual preference. She has romantic feelings towards the male wolf-shifter Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) as well as the female human doctor Lauren (Zoie Palmer). Bo is, however, firmly committed to her closest ally, the human Kenzi (Ksenia Solo). The realistically and beautifully portrayed friendship between the two women, despite assorted romantic entanglements, is the central core of the show. This is one of the things that makes Lost Girl such a refreshing change of pace from the standard clichés of jealous women fighting over men.
Let’s backtrack a bit, though. What, you may be asking, is a succubus, anyway? According to the mythology of Lost Girl, a succubus must feed on humans for their sexual chi, or life force. Season One of the show explored how Bo learned to control her appetite without killing her human prey. Despite the supernatural context of the show, it’s obvious that this is an obvious metaphor for Bo’s control over her sexuality. Even if this were all Lost Girl had to offer, it would be fairly revolutionary in terms of not only genre fiction, but also feminist characters on TV.
Lost Girl is so much more, as Season Two proves. Unlike shows such as Supernatural or even The X-Files, it’s not genuinely scary. It is, however, frequently suspenseful and action-packed, and even emotionally engaging. What might surprise people unfamiliar with the show is how damn funny it is. Lost Girl isn’t unintentionally funny (though some of the special effects are, shall we say, amusing in their crudeness), but is instead the kind of funny that relies on viewers truly knowing and caring about the characters. This isn’t slapstick comedy, folks; it’s just good writing and acting.
Although the treatment of various supernatural entities on True Blood, particularly the vampires, can readily be interpreted as real-life prejudices against gays and lesbians, Lost Girl twists things around so that many of the Fae actually look down upon humans for being, well, human. It’s Bo, due to her affections for Kenzi, Lauren, and others, who tries to champion humans, both in word and deed.
Bo is not just a symbolic heroine; she is an actual sword-wielding, ass-kicking, genuinely tough woman. Yet, she doesn’t slay demons (and the like) to rack up a body count; her caring nature and vulnerable heart transform her into something more than just a warrior.
Much of Lost Girl takes place in the Dal Riata, a neutral Fae pub in the show’s fictional universe, which means that both Light and Dark Fae may congregate there without discord. The Dal is owned and managed by Trick, portrayed by the diminutive (4′ 7″) Rick Howland. No attention is paid to Trick’s size nor is he treated as inferior or childlike in any way. In fact, as we learn in Season Two, Trick is a man of much importance in the Fae world. Even Peter Dinklage, despite his superlative acting skills, Emmy win, and top billing, is still the subject of much ridicule within the world of Game of Thrones.
As might be expected in a show in which many of the scenes take place in a bar, there is a lot of drinking. But Lost Girl isn’t Cheers or even Shameless; this is more like the way that the characters in The Good Wife often meet for drinks after work or a particularly tough case. This renders the show more grounded in reality than one featuring a succubus, a wolf-shifter, and a siren might seem to be at first blush.
About that siren: his name is Hale and a black actor, K.C. Collins, plays him. As with Rick Howland, his race is not mentioned. In fact, he and his family are considered Fae royalty, but it’s because of their lineage, not their skin color.
The visuals of Lost Girl distinguish it from other genre fare, as well. Each character has a specific look, not just in their physicality, but also in his or her clothing, which is frequently impeccably tailored, yes, even Kenzi’s punk urchin look. The lighting is high-quality, too, replacing the clichéd blue glow of horror with warm, golden tones. From a production design standpoint, although some sets (like The Ash’s office) look a bit stilted, others (like Bo’s house, the Dal Riata, and many of the settings used in flashbacks) are exceptionally suited to the atmosphere of the show.
Lost Girl isn’t perfect. At times the constant revelations of various characters and events in Fae history feels a little “monster of the week,” but considering that Bo is new to this world (being raised by humans until age 18), it does make narrative sense. Sometimes the events taking place stretch the limits of credulity, particularly when the limitations of the special effects budget are a little more obvious than is probably desired. This doesn’t reflect on the ability of the cast and crew to give 110 percent, though; it’s obvious that everyone involved with the show isn’t just there for a paycheck.
Lost Girl is a terrific, character-driven show that just happens to take place in a supernatural world. If you’ve not watched it yet, or shied away due to the subject matter, you are missing out. More genre shows—hell, more TV shows, period—should be this forward-thinking.
Lost Girl Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on November 13 through Berkshire Access Media in Canada and Funimation in the US. The set includes all 22 episodes, plus cast interviews, “making of” featurettes, and a blooper reel.
Season Three premiered January 6 on Showcase in Canada and will premiere January 14 on SyFy in the US.