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How Lucifer Was Almost Cancelled Before It Even Aired

Who would've thought the devil could be so controversial? Originally aired on Fox, "Lucifer" starred Tom Ellis as the titular character Lucifer Morningstar, a version of the literal, biblical devil with some of his comic book backstory mixed in. Set in the seedy and sensual underbelly of Los Angeles, the series followed Lucifer as he joined forces with the LAPD. The devil-turned-consultant served as something of a paranormal investigator and master of the occult. Lucifer is similar in tone to John Constantine, the long-beloved DC Comics character who once starred in his own eponymous program, "Constantine." (Notably, both characters exist in the same multiverse, and have interacted on both screen and page). 

After a middling third season, Fox damned the show to cancellation, upsetting "Lucifer's" small but mighty cult following. After a dedicated hashtag campaign in the same vein as #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, #SaveLucifer seemingly helped convince Netflix to resurrect the show on its platform. The series subsequently flourished as a streaming offering, able to end its story on its own terms in 2021. Yet, there was another point in time when forces outside Heaven and Hell sought to bring down the show altogether. Indeed — depending on who you believe — "Lucifer" was very nearly cast out of syndication before he arrived, thanks to a righteous (or perhaps, self-righteous) army of One Million Moms.

Who is One Million Moms?

A project started by the Protestant fundamentalist conservative group, the American Family Association, One Million Moms is one of the most controversial — and grossly overestimated — activism groups in America. As the LGBT+ advocacy NGO GLAAD claims, there are far from 1 million mothers rallying behind the pseudo-grass roots organization (occasionally dubbed as an "astroturf" movement, a term used for organizations — especially those political in nature — that present themselves as being organically formed and funded despite robust monetary and/or institutional backing). GLAAD alleges that OMM is mainly operated by one woman who inflates her numbers to seem influential. With roots planted in a particular interpretation of Protestant Christian ideology, they hold a number of beliefs that could be categorized as extreme. 

They are firmly against abortion and the education of students on racial history and inequity. One Million Mom, specifically, is known for their bizarre and impotent protests against everything from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's hit single "WAP" to Ritz Crackers, a company they somewhat erroneously claimed was "attempting to normalize the transgender lifestyle" after an ad featured what appeared to be a cis-man wearing lipstick and earrings (via Vice). Like most of what they boycott, both the song and the ad are perfectly innocuous and largely symbolic. Still — as is OMM's common practice — they present these perceived moral infractions as matters of life and death.

What did they hate about Lucifer?

The concept itself is antithetical to everything they believe — as Jezebel reports, they were incensed that Lucifer was portrayed in a sympathetic light. For those unfamiliar with modern Christian mythology, Lucifer is the proper name of Satan — an absolute embodiment of evil, the undisputed ruler of Hell, and the ultimate cause of all wrongdoing in the world. As Mental Floss notes, the title character in "Lucifer" is less a representation of the Judeo-Christian version of the devil, but a loose, loving adaptation of the DC Comics character Lucifer Morningstar (created by "Sandman's" Neil Gaiman). Gaiman took the core of the biblical Lucifer and ground him in an updated, complicated context. 

Yes, he's the ruler of Hell and an unrepentant sinner, but he's presented in this fiction as a lost soul, searching for meaning in his sin. A compassionate — or merely competent — read of the show would see that it isn't simply glorifying sex and violence, it uses them to portray a sad being who has little left beyond his grim misdeeds. When Gaiman heard about OMM's protest, he recalled that a separate right-wing Mom's group attempted to cancel the "Sandman" comic book series back in 1991, cooly chiding "I wonder if they noticed it didn't work last time, either ..." (via Den of Geek). Of course, "Lucifer" would go on to become a cult hit, surviving cancellation on Fox and ending its complete six-season run on Netflix.