For the past week, I’ve been watching a Canadian series called Lost Girl starring Anna Silk, Ksenia Solo and Kris Holden-Reid.
For the second time.
When I realize something really hooks me (or really doesn’t), I like to analyze the ‘whys’ in order to become a better writer. I wasn’t sure I would write something on this series because it’s a Canadian product (by Showcase) and though I’m proud of my country, I know most of you, dear readers, are American. Well, I don’t mind anymore; Lost Girl is coming to SyFy soon so I’ll wet your appetite and you can keep an eye out for its premiere on your side of the border.
Don’t worry, this is spoiler-free: the information I refer to is either plainly stated or clearly foreseeable from the first episode/synopsis.
I’ll just spend a few lines to say that I absolutely love each and every member of the cast (even though that makes me sound like a little fan girl). They each have a wonderful energy and delightful on-screen chemistry. In fact, if I ever get my Script Frenzy script to pilot phase, I’ll petition to have Ksenia Solo play Mac (I can dream).
But this is supposed to be a post about writing so onward with that.
Lost Girl is a supernatural crime drama, which already earns points in my “I like” scale. It follows Bo (Anna Silk, front and center), a succubus, as she strives to live the life she wants amongst the complicated world of her kind (the fae). She fights fae crimes, searches for her origins and struggles with the political nature of the fae world.
This is just a bit of context that is more or less related to the real reason why I like this series so much: the relationship between the characters.
Taboos aren’t a Big Deal
The very first thing that struck me when I watched Lost Girl was the way it tackles some taboos (relationship-wise) in a natural and flowing way instead of using them as roadblocks.
A succubus is a demon feeding on sexual energy. Already a bit dicey. But the show embraces it, presenting friends with benefits and bisexuality in a refreshing light.
Why? Because in Lost Girl, these things aren’t wrong.
Many shows either shy away from those topics or make it the heart of a personal struggle for the characters. In my opinion, Lost Girl breaks out of that pattern.
They even go as far as to show that mores disturbing for a Westerner’s mindset (say, a type of fae eating dead people) can actually be a good thing, if we stop to think about it (said fae eats diseased deads, thus controlling epidemics).
Love is Fate-Free
In a fashion similar to taboos not stopping characters’ relationships, fate isn’t either.
Bo has not one, but two love interests: Dyson (Kris Holden-Reid, far right) and Lauren (Zoie Palmer, upper right). Guess what messes up their relationship? No, not so much of the classic love triangle. No, not the fact that Lauren is a woman.
What causes trouble is… drum roll… who they are!
Each of them have their own lives, desires, motivations and responsibilities, and that’s where the troubles come from. They don’t flirt with each other episodes after episodes and stay apart for weird (read: arbitrary) reasons.
I love Bones and Castle but seriously! Seriously! Can someone ‘de-soap-opera-ize’ these couples, please? Their cat-and-mouse game made sense for one season. Maybe two. The waltz is getting old.
Lost Girl could have fallen in this trap so easily and, so far, the writers (M.A Lovretta, Jeremy Boxen, Emily Andras and Peter Mohan) avoided it with flying colors. They even avoided making Bo’s need for sex the central cause for dissensions: it sets up potential conflicts but the arguments themselves are not about sex.
Secondary Characters Have Complex Relationships
Though the focus of the series is on Bo, and other characters’ relationship with her, all characters have complex relationships with one another as well. We see these relationships in small snippets and most of them are just hints pointing mysteries yet to unfold, but the tension’s there. The writers obviously know more than I do. And I want to get inside their heads to find out.
All because of a few well crafted lines and actors’ performance.
We get the characters’ motivations. We get the balance of powers’ subtleties. We get more than what’s stated clearly.
Taking Bones and Castle as examples again, secondary characters have light relationships that are either disconnected from the plot or serve the main character’s storyline. It doesn’t make these bad – they’re very entertaining – but the same relationships in Lost Girl run deeper and are integral parts of the world-building.
Lost Girl is a sparkling lesson in the value of three-dimensional characters. In the end, that’s how the writers avoided the easy ways to create conflict; they made sure each character had strong and nuanced personality/desires/responsibilities. Thanks to that every relationship participates in the ’roundness’ of the show’s universe.
Other critics have picked on the action scenes and while I understand why, it doesn’t bother me at all.
Contrary to 24 (which I analyzed months ago), Lost Girl made me care.