Lost Girl is an urban fantasy television series in the mode of Blood Ties or Moonlight. Produced by Prodigy Pictures, it’s a little more than halfway through its second season on Canada’s Showcase Television, and has already been tapped for a third. SyFy started broadcasting the first season in the U.S. in the second week of January this year.
You know what else it is? Incredibly fun.
The story of how I got my hands on Lost Girl‘s first season despite not living in Canada those of us on the other side of the Atlantic have serious reasons to feel irritated at region-locking, I tell you truly is a sordid one, involving squeeful friends, smuggled bootlegs, and the time-honoured tradition of thumbing one’s nose at The Man.1 It’s an oddly appropriate way to have come to the show, since Lost Girl‘s central arc, thus far, is all about standing outside of systems that demand you conform.
That, and taking care of your friends.
At first glance, a show based around a bisexual succubus private investigator (Bo, played by Anna Silk) sounds like it could be full of so much fail from a feminist perspective.2 Astonishingly, it’s not. Instead, it’s full of female friendship and women with agency, who own their own sexual pleasures and desires.
Also, things that go BOOM in interesting and explosive narrative ways.
(Spoilers ahead for the first episode and mild hints for the season.)
Bo’s never known what she was. All she knew was, ever since puberty, her sexual desires have come complete with a hunger that leaves her lovers dead. When she rescues a grifter who’s been roofied by a date-rapist and leaves a body in an elevator, she sets in motion a train of events that lead to the rest of the supernatural world the Fae finally catching up with her. Given a choice between the two sides in the supernatural community’s longrunning Cold War/reluctant truce, she picks neither, and casts her defiance into the teeth of their delicate politics.
“I choose humans,” she says and promptly proceeds the sidestep the hierarchy in order a) feed her hungers, b) learn what she needs to learn in order to stop killing by accident, and c) protect or try to her friends.
Now, to be honest, plot isn’t Lost Girl‘s strongest point. The storylines of individual episodes run the gamut from decently solid (the pilot; 1.04, “Faetal Attraction,” involving Furies; 1.10, “The Mourning After,” in which Bo meets another succubus) to monster-of-the-week (1.07, “Arachnofaebia,” which is bizarre, hilarious, and terrifying all at once) to fairly bland (1.09, “Fae Day,” in which Bo attempts to reconcile two brothers before one of them dies). The season arc is somewhat marred, too, by heavy-handed Ominous Hints.
Characterisation, Lost Girl has in spades. Despite her Troubled Past, Bo is only occasionally made of angst. Most of the time, she’s almost suspiciously well-adjusted, and while clearly meant to be a charismatic outsider3, she’s very far from being a charismatic loner. Kenzi (Ksenia Solo, Black Swan), the grifter we first meet in the pilot, becomes Bo’s best friend and housemate. Theirs is a friendship that feels emotionally real and solid: despite disagreements, they can be relied upon to have each other’s back.
You can help people. People who have nowhere else to turn. People with shiny shiny money.
…I can handle scary monsters, but privilege creeps me out
Kenzi is one of the show’s best things. But wait! There’s a second instance of female friendship in Lost Girl. Lauren (Zoie Palmer), is a human doctor who works for one side of the Fae community. She also becomes Bo’s friend, and their relationship is one explicitly based around mutual respect and attraction yes, there’s F/F here, and no, it doesn’t cater exclusively to the male gaze.
Lauren’s character also represents an attempt to explore, at least by implication, the dynamics of power, protection and loyalty in the Fae world. The Fae are, in the main, predators with a hierarchy: most of them don’t see humans as even potential equals. Bo stands to some degree outside the system, but the system itself has its own ruthless logic, and Lost Girl goes some way towards acknowledging that.
And Zoie Palmer has damn solid acting chops.
After the female regular cast, I’m afraid to say I find the men rather bland. Dyson (Kris Holden Ried), a police detective who’s also a werewolf, is the second and more frequent pole in Bo’s ongoing friendship-with-sex triangle. Thankfully, Lost Girl avoids playing too much to the Asshole Werewolf Boyfriend trope: both Bo and Dyson keep defining their limits and renegotiating the boundaries of their relationship in an atmosphere of competitive, and occasionally contentious, but never absent mutual respect.4 Dyson has a buddy-cop thing going on with his partner, another Fae called Hale, and Hale and Kenzi frequently exchange snarky banter at Dyson and Bo’s expense. It’s a nice touch, especially when the flirting and the sex skirts the borders of ridiculous.
And then there’s Trick, your local friendly, mysterious, and possibly powerful barkeeper/owner-operator. All of the reasons behind his interest in (and not infrequent support for) Bo from the beginning aren’t exactly made explicit but the fact that he has a (nonsexual) interest is.
I like Lost Girl a lot. From the snark and the female characters (Women! People who look like me! Everywhere! Doing things for reasons! Blowing shit up! Having sex that’s characterised as much by what they get out of it as their partners do!), to the recurring leitmotif to do with not trusting food or drink when it comes from a stranger or you don’t know what might’ve gone into it, to the fact that Bo’s frequent need for sex is treated as something that’s just another appetite, like eating or drinking, and… well, often kind of inconvenient.
In a balanced view, there’s as much here that’s problematic as there is that’s brilliant. It’s not as white as many other television shows, but it’s not brimful of good representation either, and what Bo does can be seen as a form of sexual coercion an aspect of the life of an ethical succubus that’s never really addressed.
I’m sure I’m missing other things, because when I think about Lost Girl I go straight to the positives. It hits an astonishing number of my narrative kinks, what with the witty banter, and the women, and the blowing shit up, and the relationships of mutual respect, and the dynamics of power, and….
Well. I like it an awful lot. Don’t expect great depth from it, but as light entertainment, I recommend it wholeheartedly.
(But don’t watch “Arachnofaebia” if you’re scared of spiders. I’m not, very, and I still made an eeek noise.)
 Extended justificatory digression:
What I do in order to watch shows like this is, I admit, an ethical grey area. But for me, half the point of watching genre shows is to be able to discuss them with other enthusiasts i.e., take part in fandom without being completely spoilered. If I like them, eventually I buy the DVDs: this is how I came to have Criminal Minds and Leverage and White Collar, among others, on my shelf. Shows do things I like, I give them money, maybe they do more things I like = everybody wins. (The same is true for music and literature.) If I don’t enjoy them? A majority of these shows will never appear on Irish terrestrial television, so I’m not exactly lost revenue from the producers’ point of view.
People! I will pay to watch your shows if you let me.
 Which is the one I’ve got.
 One whose facility with knives in the pilot is lampshaded in later episodes by reference to her love for all things sharp and pointy. I will forgive much of a show whose protagonist wears stompy boots and says at one point, in exasperation of high heels, How do people even walk in these things?
 And I’ll say that S2 has so far done interesting things in their regard. Despite the weirdness in their lives, these characters act in surprisingly sane, rational, humane ways towards each other.
Liz Bourke thinks competence is pretty hot, actually.