The Doctor Is In: Therapy Is the Medicine of Choice in Fox’s ‘Lucifer’

It seems the Devil might actually care about mental health.
August 14, 2019
9 mins read

A character that regresses into their flaws is just as intriguing as one that overcomes their inner demons. But what if that character is, in fact, the king of demons? Turns out, Lucifer Morningstar needs to address some character defects of his own. And he does so with the help of his human friends — namely, therapist Dr. Linda Martin.

“In the beginning, the angel Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and condemned to rule Hell for all eternity,” reads the pilot episode’s intro. “Until he decided to take a vacation.”

This is Los Angeles in 2015, where the Devil himself runs a nightclub, Lux, while serving as a civilian consultant for the Los Angeles Police Department. Lucifer’s passion for solving murders is the first glimpse audiences get into the complexities of his psyche. The Devil isn’t evil; rather, he punishes evil — formerly in Hell, and now on Earth.

Lucifer works with LAPD’s homicide detective, Chloe Decker, who acts as a frame for a personal issue Lucifer is working through with Dr. Martin — although he seems to make little progress as he incorrectly interprets much of Dr. Martin’s advice.

Instead of being a snub against therapy, Lucifer’s slow-paced efforts provide audiences with a realistic expectation of the self-discovery and self-growth process. Improving one’s mental health is an exhausting and confusing, but necessary, toil.

Therapy patients come in many guises: addicts, PTSD sufferers, parents, children, etc. Television and cinema, however, tend to focus on therapy patients with diagnosed mental health disorders or a history of trauma. Accurately portraying therapy as a form of medicine destigmatizes mental illness.

An over-prominent featuring of patients with diagnosable disorders can lead to the stereotype that someone must be damaged to go to therapy. “Lucifer” swiftly demolishes this notion.

Charismatic, charming and humorous Lucifer lives a drug and sex fueled life in his penthouse above Lux. A man who is wealthy beyond imagination on Earth, a king in Hell and an angel in Heaven surely is not the poster child for someone in need of therapy. But for Lucifer, as with many who attend therapy, there is no singular event he needs professional advice on overcoming.

Instead, Lucifer simply wants to be the best version of himself, learn how to be a more supportive friend and colleague and understand his own sense of self-perception. In short, Lucifer attends therapy to improve and nourish his mental health.

Soon after Lucifer’s sessions with Dr. Martin begin, the demon Mazikeen, Lucifer’s friend and bodyguard, spends time with the doctor, too. Demons are largely emotionless and don’t engage in any introspective reflection — at least not in Hell. But on Earth, Mazikeen discovers feelings of loneliness for the first time.

She is the protector of both Lucifer and Trixie, Chloe’s daughter, but feels like there is no one to offer her comfort. A life of solitude as a demon makes it difficult for Mazikeen to welcome people into her new life on Earth. The purpose of her therapy, for her, is to open herself up to being loved and cared for by someone else.

Although “Lucifer” leads audiences to believe the show follows the misadventures of the Lucifer-Chloe dynamic detective duo, the show shifts perspectives to center around mental health in a way that does not sabotage the comedic nature of the supernatural drama.

Much like the trademark ending of a “Full House” episode is a touching moment of family bonding, or the way an episode of “Supernatural” always contains a heart-to-heart brotherly conversation in the Impala, “Lucifer” always parallels the homicide cases to issues characters are personally struggling with.

Each character makes their way to the couch in Dr. Martin’s office — a rite of passage for a show that so casually incorporates messages of mental health into its plot lines. No one is too good, too evil, too whole nor too broken to reap the benefits of therapy — not even Dr. Linda Martin herself.

Rather than portraying the therapist as an authority on all things psychological, the show makes sure to emphasize that Dr. Martin, too, needs support. Dr. Martin becomes a friend of Mazikeen, Lucifer and Amenadiel, Lucifer’s brother, and is the first human who learns of their celestial natures.

A terrified Dr. Martin initially cuts all ties, both personal and professional, from the divine gang after seeing Lucifer’s true Devil form. She feels alone in a world that is suddenly much scarier and more dangerous than her former state of blissful ignorance suggested. Her friends, once confidants and sources of joy, have revealed themselves to be terrifyingly powerful entities.

It takes the encouragement and gentleness of Mazikeen, Hell’s best torturer, to coax Dr. Martin away from her petrified state of shock. Someone that supposedly embodies pure evil ironically reminds Dr. Martin that everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves, despite what their reputation says about them.

Mazikeen’s lesson relates to another principle of self-growth that is prominent in the show — learning to be yourself. Lucifer, Mazikeen and Eve (yes, the Biblical Eve) struggle most with accepting who they are rather than acting according to the wishes and expectations of others.

Lucifer oscillates between fully succumbing to his devilish nature, which humanity expects, and embracing his angelic self, which Chloe and Amenadiel encourage. The demonic Mazikeen is feared by most everyone, leading her to believe that she can be nothing but a killer. Eve constantly morphs herself into a person she believes her partner, be it Adam or Lucifer, will like best. In creating someone they believe others want, Lucifer, Mazikeen and Eve lose themselves completely.

It might sound dismal, but in reaching their lowest points, the characters of “Lucifer” individually discover that they determine their own fates. Self-growth over the four seasons leads each character to accept, in their own unique way, that God and fate cannot be blamed for the good nor the bad. Everyone creates their own destiny and is responsible for their choices.

Dr. Martin’s office is the sun around which every character revolves, and therapy sessions can be fun and casual or deeply revolutionary. Patients might come with specific issues and diagnoses, or they could simply need a good listener. Regardless of the nature of the session or patient, no character hides their use of therapy from others in the show. By destigmatizing mental health among its characters, “Lucifer” encourages viewers to reconsider their own preconceptions on therapy and to reflect on their personal self-growth.

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