There is this stigma, among Canadians, about Canadian television shows.
Canadians see Canadian tv as somehow “less than” American tv shows. I am not sure if it’s because American networks have oodles of money to throw around to make the best effects (even for the worst shows) or because we’re surrounded constantly by American everything that we just keep thinking it’s awesome … or maybe even that we just have a self-recriminating sense of self that always leaves of us saying, “Oh well, it’s good for a Canadian show.””. Whatever it is – it better stop.
Canadian tv, I would assert, has always been pretty kick ass: Degrassi, people. Where American television shows still show picture-perfect teens with absolutely miniscule problems (or unrealistic ones – like come one, the world depends on the Cheerleader?), Degrassi discussed teenage pregnancy and abortion in real terms, abusive relationships and how sometimes even the best intentions go sideways and more – it pushed the envelope like no American show has (yet!). In fact, even Skins – the MTV remake of the awesome British show – not only was filmed in Canada, but also changed the male gay character to a female one … two boys kissing is apparently still taboo.
But what gets my excite-o-meter up to ten is Lost Girl.
Strong female character with complicated past? Check!
Female friendship that is not shown to be harmful? Check!
Compelling Supernatural drama? Check!
Cast of characters that are all memorable and awesome? Check! Many times, check!
Lost Girl is shown on Showcase in Canada (I believe Syfy has it for my US friends!) and follows Bo – our succubus heroine who does not allow outdated sexual stereotypes or old fashioned modes of conformity to stop her from living her life. As our favourite philosopher JPS would say: She’s behaving in good faith. When the series starts out we meet Bo as she saves a girl from her would-be slimey rapist by … kissing the soul out of him. Bo is not exactly sure what she is, exactly – she just knows that “her kiss is a death sentence” and that she can’t seem to turn it off.
We find out that she’s a succubus – she sucks the chi out of people through sex – a pretty well done feat for someone who never imagined she was anything other than human. She meets Kenzi – a smart ass with a heart of gold and a wicked awesome wardrobe, and they decide to be friends – through thick and thin, regardless that a police detective that seems to be a wolf is chasing them around, there are dark sides and light sides that both want her, and she has a major crush on a human doctor, Lauren, who knows all about the Fae.
Because that’s what she is – a fae. A faerie. A distinct species that hides from the human world in order to preserve the sanctity of their culture, their traditions (even the weird and scary ones) and copious amounts of drinking. Because, honestly, why not?
The show is wacky – it starts off strong and crazy, but also compelling. There are rows of interpreting faes and really cool characters that each have their own agenda.
Instead of dissolving into a fangirl mess about this show, I thought I would detail a few reasons why you should go all fangirl for it:
(1) Supernatural Closet of Curiosities
Seriously, there are like a million types of fae. And all are pretty interesting, If you like shows like The Dresden Files and Supernatural – you’ll like the rotating “monster of the week” premise that introduces you to different types of fae – from the succubus/incubus duo, to Sirens (who can be male!), Werewolves, Vampires and a host of other creatures pulled through mythologies form around the world. There is a never ending line up of new creatures and personalities that doesn’t seem to be ebbing any time soon. The thing about this show that makes me just utterly happy is the fact that they come from everywhere – Asian, African, European, South American – fae from all walks of mythos, with all sorts of interpretations. And the interpretations are smart, not exploitative, something that just seems so hard to do for so many other shows. Even Bo, a succubus, isn’t played for the sex appeal/fan service thing, but is really and truly interpreted as a complex person with very difficult decisions that she uses to empower herself and her friends.
(2) Strong, Conflicted Heroine with both huge faults and major triumphs
Bo is very conflicted. Not only is there a divide amongst the Fae – light vs. dark (and no, it’s not what you think), where both sides want them to choose her, but she has no idea where she comes from, who her parents are/were and why she was given up to live with very religious humans on a farm in the midle of rural Ontario. There’s a lot to unpack for Bo and she never quite gets over it all. The fact that she refuses to choose sides in the Fae world is a topic that continuously pops up and causes her trouble, but her inability to resolve it works for her character – she’s new at all this, and she’s got to figure it out for herself. She’s independent, almost fiercely so, and through the seasons she begins to rely on others – first her best friend Kenzi and then others, resulting in a very complex person who needs to gauge the rate at which she can give up control in certain portions of her life.
Every triumph is a mixed one – the more she discovers of the Fae world, the less human she feels, and the less human she feels, the more human she tries to be. Sure, the girl can fight with the best of them – can swing swords and fling daggers at her enemies, but she is also vulnerable – she knows little of her own makeup and her enemies know it. The lies that weave around her are hard to decipher, and she can never quite let go of the resentment at having been brought up ignorant.
In all, she’s a real person – she cries, she fights, he gives up and then she rallies. There’s nothing pretty in it, she just is who she is and there’s truth in that.
(3) A girl-girl friendship that isn’t toxic
I am so sick of girl-on-girl toxic relationships being the norm on television. The cattiness and back stabbing and lies. And then the justifications – the “But that’s how women are!” and “Girls have all the drama!” and such. You know, bullshit.
And it is crap. It really is.
But it’s a crap that a lot of girls believe – that a lot of adults believe. The idea that women can’t be friends with each other – that they are always sexual rivals who will compete for the penis – I mean, Men … whatever, is just bollox. And yet, it remains, this idea.
Which is why the Bo-Kenzi relationship is so bloody awesome! They’re friends – they love each other, they fight, they support each other and they share shoes. And they’re girls. There are times when they wage wars over their cluttered kitchen counters and there are times when they break down completely and only the other one can bring her out of her funk, but they are really and truly friends. When they fight – you jump on the couch and scream at the television, and when they share a pint of ice cream, you cry at the television and yell that you want your best friend. They don’t fight over boys (Thank God!) – they fight because they worry about each other, they fight because they have different ideologies sometimes, different politics. And they are happy for each other – when Bo has a new love interest (and my heart explodes!) Kenzi is happy for her – not jealous, not petty, not cruel. And when Kenzi finds someone she can love, Bo nearly has a hernia in excitement over it.
But they dont live in a bubble – the other women of the show can be friends too – in either case, it’s a complicated matter. There are alliances and there are secret little wars, but in general, the women don’t try and stab each other in the back for being with a particular man, and their relationships are not toxic. It’s a novel, beautiful thing – and I will not be able to get over it any time soon!
(4) Sexuality as normal, Female Sexuality/Pleasure isn’t a Bad Thing:
I know this seems counter intuitive, right? Succubi are always women who kill men through sex. How can that not be some sort of warning for women to stave off the sexy and focus on making sure the pot roast is out by 5:04 pm? Glad you asked! Like I mentioned before, the first episode we see Bo and she kills a man by kissing him, and she has done this often enough that she seems almost jaded about it – resigned to the fact that she is a monster and that sex is both her superpower and her crutch (because she can kill with it, but she needs it to survive) – basically, she is the everygirl. Every girl who grew up in our culture has been given that same rhetoric: “Don’t wear that! It invites trouble!” “You bought your boyfriend boxer shorts? His mother will think you’re a whore!” etc etc etc, never mind the fact that we live in a rape culture that is so thick, we sometimes don’t even notice it.
And that is where we meet Bo – we meet her at this point, where she thinks her sexuality is a bad thing. And then she realizes she’s a Fae, and her new community never acts like she’s dirty or dangerous or beneath them because of her need and enjoyment of sex. Instead, they teach her to “control” her powers – and in this case, “control” is better than you’d think – by “control” they mean take ownership of. And then Bo does just that – she takes ownership of her sexual awareness and her sexual enjoyment – and this, my friends, is how we should talk about sex to all young girls. That it’s not something that is bad or evil or dirty – it’s a natural human thing, and to feel pleasure from it is a hella bonus.
Depictions of female pleasure on television tend to be censored heavily (as opposed to rape, see this article for more on that), which has always saddened me, because it means that females as sexual creatures are still being divided into “virgins” or “whore” – a dichotomy that is destructive and useless. Bo would be your traditional whore – I mean, she kind of has to have sex, she’s definitely not married, and most of the time where’s the sickest kimono robe ever. The thing of it is, she’s not. No one treats her like a whore, no one questions her sexuality or tells her she can’t have pleasure. Scenes of her enjoying sex – with men, women, other creatures, or all of the above – are all over the episodes, and it is seen as a totally normal thing that in no way diminishes her character.
This show makes me think we’ve maybe finally sort of in just a little way evolved from the general misogyny on television. Please say it’s true? Pretty please?
(5) A Storyline that Keeps reinventing itself:
We start off with Bo trying to figure out what she is – and a manifesto she has to stop Fae from hurting humans. When that plot gets too monotonous, the story shifts effortlessly a dozen different wways, with prominent characters realizing their own potential and branching out into intricate stories of their own. And that, dear readers, cannot be discounted. That is how you stay fresh.
All in all, Lost Girl is pretty kick ass and I recommend everyone to watch it – not only because it’s fun, but because it’s empowering – it’s a different type of narrative than we’re used to – and a good one at that!
What do you think? Will you be watching when Season 4 premiers on Monday November 10th?