"‘Lost Girl’ Isn’t ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’—And That’s Okay"
Lost Girl, the Canadian fantasy series about Bo, a succubus, and the rest of the faerie world she operates in, which is headed into production on its third season and finished airing its first season on SyFy last night, has attracted comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer for its progressive attitude towards sexuality and sexual orientation and its detailed magical world. It’s not quite Buffy—a story about a hot bisexual succubus who seduces people for good will never be as subversive, or as funny as a high school built over a portal to Hell and a cheerleader who battles the forces of evil. But the differences between the two shows aren’t entirely a bad thing: Buffy laid a foundation on which Lost Girl‘s building a somewhat more sexually progressive and more diverse universe.
Lost Girl represents, in television terms, a generation of forward progress from Buffy when it comes to sex. Sex is literally life-giving to Bo, rather than conflicted in the many ways it is in Buffy. While initially she operates a lot like X-Men‘s Rogue, sucking her victims dry of chi to the point of their deaths, as she becomes more confident in and knowledgeable about her status as a succubus, Bo stops draining her partners while still drawing sustenance—and joy—from sex.
Unlike Buffy, whose on-screen partners have, alternately, lost their souls, ignored her afterwards (college boys can be jerks, too), turned to vampire hookers out of a sense of inadequacy, and tried to rape her, Bo doesn’t get punished for sleeping around. When she sleeps with Dyson (Kristen Holden-Ried), the wolf-shifting fae and cop who’s her entree into the faerie world, the scenes are choreographed to be enticing, rather than a form of self-punishment, like Buffy’s first house-destroying night with Spike, her second vampire lover. Dyson may be convenient to Bo, the same thing Buffy accuses Spike of being to her, but their encounters don’t make anyone involved hate each other.
And unlike how Buffy handled Willow’s coming-out as bisexual, having her transition from attractions only to men to (on-screen, at least) attractions only to women, Lost Girl is confident enough to have Bo’s sex life reflect her stated sexual orientation. She’s capable of loving and desiring both Dyson and Lauren, the human doctor in service to the fae who Bo falls for—and of being hurt by both of them. The heterosexual and same-gender sex scenes are filmed differently, to be sure—when Bo sleeps with Dyson, it’s all dramatic lighting and multiple sexual positions, while the night she spends with Lauren is silk sheets and sweet nothings. But even if the show doesn’t quite have the courage to treat the scenes as if they’re similar, it’s progress to have a bisexual character dating people of multiple genders calmly and without comment, instead of functionally confining them to heterosexuality or homosexuality.
It’s not the only way Lost Girl is more representative than Buffy. Bo and her roommate Kenzi (a human con artist played with delightful spunk by Ksenia Solo) hang out a bar owned by “Trick” McCorrigan, a powerful fae who also happens to be played by Rick Howland, an actor with dwarfism, in what may be the only performance featuring a person of short stature on television where their dwarfism isn’t a regular and explicit plot point. The most powerful official in the fae universe, the Ash, is played by Clé Bennett, a Canadian actor of Jamaican descent. And Dyson’s partner in his day job as a cop, Hale, is also black, a nice improvement on the all-white Scooby Gang.
It’s too bad Lost Girl doesn’t quite have a mythology or psychology is rich as Buffy, but then, almost nothing on television these days does. But it’s laying down a marker for fantasy, reminding us in a world where we have diversity in our monsters and myths, it’s not so strange to have a true diversity of people.