Dealing with Lucifer

One of the things I like to remind people is that, in most cases, bad press is still good press. You don’t want to be caught doing something particularly heinous, but if someone gets angry at you for something that most people are going to be okay with – they just handed you free advertising. In almost all forms of media this holds true and the more aggressively you try to squash something, the more people will hear about it. It’s related to the “Streisand Effect” where trying to censor, hide, or refute information will ultimately amplify it. Your efforts to put a stop to something will, in turn, make people look that direction.

J.K. Rowling found this out personally when she went from a successful but niche author to a worldwide sensation when evangelicals decided that Harry Potter needed to be used as kindling. Overnight, people screaming about witchcraft made her a household name that crossed generations. For a children’s author, it’s pretty good to get kids reading your books around the world, but a good little bonfire managed to get their parents to read it too. In trying to silence this author, they managed to light the fire behind her career.


Similarly, on television, Married… with Children saw middling success through most of its early run on the fledgling Fox Network before being boycotted rather publicly. People who hadn’t watched this show suddenly tuned in to find out what had happened, resulting in the next 6 seasons having more than double the ratings of the first two seasons of the series . Years later, Married… with Children came to an end with 11 Seasons under its belt and ratings never dropping to the level the first two seasons experienced. The boycott backfired.

Today, the organization most familiar with this fact is the always offended One Million Moms. In fact, you could say they’re masters at…

Raising Hell

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As the Fox Network picked up Lucifer, they did so with three things likely in mind. First, speculative fiction crime shows are actually getting pretty popular as of late. Second, comic book adaptations are also at the peak of their popularity and will be for at least a couple more seasons. Third, everyone likes a bad boy. Suddenly Lucifer, a series based on a comic book where the devil solves crimes mostly out of boredom, felt like a no-brainer. Which is ironic because One Million Moms proved they have no brain either.

The thing is, despite how often they’re infuriated over something, One Million Moms is rarely successful in anything. A brief look into their history will show that, traditionally, their only “successes” in these protests generally have very little to do with them. A quick glance at their website shows them celebrating the removal of advertising from a show called “Teachers” and the cancellation of “Angel From Hell”. If they had anything to do with this, you could forgive networks for being afraid of the couple hundred batshit crazy women who’ve counted the voices they ear as additional members. Though, considering all of them claim to be in communication with Jesus, we should probably round it down to somewhere around 990,000 Moms.

After all, each of them count him three times.

The problem for OMM is that they had exactly zero to do with either one of these events.

I’m a fairly well versed media addict. I still watch TV despite being just on the older end of the Millennial demographic, a demographic which is actually infamous for not owning a TV at all. So when I tell you that I’d never even heard of “Teachers” before reading about it on the OMM website, it should be a bit of a red flag. Looking into it deeper I found that it’s actually on TV Land – a network which isn’t particularly known for its original programming and whose best shows were produced before color TV.

don knotts

So already the likelihood of this being a ratings powerhouse were tiny at best. In fact, the second episode of the series had a staggeringly low 390,000 viewers. Even for basic cable television, those are the kind of numbers where a second season isn’t just unlikely but your first season is only airing because they’ve already shown five hours of The Andy Griffith Show that day and another episode would break the pact with Don Knotts’ vengeful spirit. To put it in another light, this one video actually has more views than the first four episodes of “Teachers” combined.

And speaking of unrelenting groin abuse, Jane Lynch’s starring vehicle “Angel From Hell” wasn’t exactly going to soar to great heights either. With a metascore of 55/100 and losing 2 million viewers in only 5 episodes, the only Almighty CBS feared at that moment was the Dollar.

And who can say they were surprised? Jane Lynch is a funny person but her best roles have never exactly been the wild free-spirit who rebels against the system. If anything, her best roles have been hard-ass buzzkill authoritarians with a sharp tongue who takes subtle joy in destroying the hopes and dreams of those free-spirits. Trying to cast her as a rough around the edges angel was a bit like trying make a drill instructor into an art-…

Okay, so maybe a bad example. But the point remains the same, you can’t exactly expect her to do her best work when she’s suddenly the quirky one in the pair. From what I can tell of the advertisements, she was basically working off a blank slate for a straight-woman and the review scores tell me I was probably on point. It’s not that the advertisers and the network listened to you One Million Moms, it’s that the show was bleeding already before you started to chime in too. It wasn’t passion that took this show down, it was apathy, the true kiss of death for any media.

But don’t let that stop you from taking swings at Lucifer with the same tired accusations – because over there it actually helped. I had no interest in the show before they started to complain about it. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what night it was on before they told me. But now they’ve gone and not only told me when it’s on but why I should actually give it a shot.

“FOX’s new drama “Lucifer” is spiritually dangerous. The new program “Lucifer” glorifies Satan as a caring, likable person in human flesh. The character Lucifer Morningstar makes being the devil look cool, drives a fancy car, gets out of a speeding ticket, owns a nightclub in LA, and is irresistible to women. “Lucifer” premiered January 25, 2016, at 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. CT with a 14-DLSV rating.

The series focuses on Lucifer portrayed as a good guy “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell.” He resigns his throne, abandons his kingdom, and retires to Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.

At the same time, God’s emissary, the angel Amenadiel, has been sent to Los Angeles to convince Lucifer to return to the underworld. Lucifer questions Amenadiel, “Do you think I’m the devil because I’m inherently evil or just because dear old Dad decided I was?” The question is meant to make people rethink assumptions about good and evil, including about God and Satan.

The premiere included graphic acts of violence, a nightclub featuring scantily-clad women, and a demon. The message of the show is clear. Lucifer is just misunderstood. He doesn’t want to be a bad guy, it’s God who is forcing him to play that role.”

Lucifer’s first episode had what we would call middling ratings. It came shy of 8 million viewers. On CBS or the other two big networks, that would have been devastating. But on Fox? Well Fox isn’t one of the big three and anything over 5 million is what they would call a win. But while Fox executives were already imagining the hookers and blow, One Million Moms just saw the sin of making Lucifer even slightly sympathetic. You have to understand the crazy spiritual hard-on they had for this concept – for the first time ever, they would actually be validated in saying this was the work of the Devil.


So One Million Moms struck at the very heart of the evil: Olive Garden and Kay Jewelers. Fox is sure to bend to pressure, right? It’s not like they rose to prominence because someone tried to boycott their shows in the past, right? Surely this is the strategy of winners!

And the best part? It backfired again (though not as spectacularly as Married… yet). Lucifer’s second episode dropped in the overall ratings, but you know where it went up? They gained in the 18-49 demographic that advertisers love. It was almost like no one was interested in watching the show until a bunch of puritanical WASPs told them that watching it would be naughty. Do you know how hard it is to get an 18-49 year old to watch TV on a Monday night anymore? Some of them probably had to literally wipe the dust off their screens. But hey, OMM, you be you, don’t let that stop you.

And Olive Garden, for their part, are still advertisers for the show as if they recognize their entire business model is based on selling gluttonous people endless bread sticks and the “tour of Italy”. Nothing says fear of the seven deadly sins like selling chicken, pasta, and a brick of lasagna with a side of salad to make it appear “healthy”. They probably wouldn’t even budge if you got the Pope in on it – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time they got an angry letter by an old man from Rome offended by their promotions.

As for their other target, Kay Jewelers? I’m certain they’re going to listen to your pleas to their morality. After all, it’s not like they’re part of an industry that thrives off artificially inflating the value of diamonds by lying about their rarity. It’s not like they’re selling “chocolate diamonds” for hundreds of dollars despite it being a gemstone so common you can actually scoop it out of the soil with your bare hands in some parts of South America. These are upstanding, moralistic people who don’t have a greedy bone in their body and will respond to your incessant bible thumping before the ratings nosedive. Keep it up, I’m sure you can find that thread of shame still left in their souls, just keep digging.

And if anyone can do it, you can. You were the organization that objected to JCPenney using Ellen DeGeneres in their ads.

jcp ellen

The group that called for a stop to DC and Marvel having openly gay characters.


The activists that tried to silence Campbell’s Soup’s ad featuring a family with two dads.

So you keep doing what you do and I’m sure it’ll work out for the best.

(I write novels. So far none of them have offended a million moms, but I’m hoping for at least two or three. If you’re one of them, yell at me on twitter!)