I’ve been meaning to write this blog post about Lost Girl and Family for a long time, but hadn’t found a starting point for it – until this week, when I was in church.
Let me explain.
I’m not a religious person, but my wife is. She belongs to a church that is affiliated with More Light Presbyterians (Open Doors, in our area). More Light congregations work for the full participation and inclusion of LGBTQ people in life, society and the church – including advocating for marriage equality.
The first Sunday in June is More Light Sunday, a day that the church celebrates LGBTQ inclusiveness in its Sunday service. One of the sections of the bulletin from the June 1 service contained statements from the members of the church about what it means to be a More Light Church. This statement in particular caught my attention:
To be part of a More Light Church means
to be family for those estranged from a family, and to be a place where kids from all kinds of families can be part of a big family that supports them.
That was my starting point – because that’s what Bo’s gang is. It is family for those estranged from a family, and a place where all kinds of people can be part of a big family.
We create our own families.
Bo was kicked out of the house by her parents around age 18 after telling them about accidentally killing her boyfriend, Kyle, during their first sexual experience together. Her mother disowned her, told her that she had the devil in her, and also broke the news to Bo that she had been adopted. “My mother cast me out like I was some kind of deviant,” Bo tells Lauren in episode 3.08, “There’s Bo Place Like Home.”
Whether intentionally paralleled or not by the writers of this episode, Bo’s experience echoes the tragic real-life experience of many LGBTQ youth who are cast out of their homes when they come out.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.
Polonius, Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Bo spent ten years on the run, and was dependent only upon herself to survive. The first friend she found after all those isolated years was Kenzi. She didn’t intend to stick with Kenzi at first – she intended to save her from a roofie-ing would-be rapist and then to leave town – but Kenzi’s helpless state convinced her to bring her back to what would become their shared home.
As Bo tried to sneak out and leave Kenzi behind, she woke her up by accidentally kicking a soda can. (And a good thing too, since Kenzi had recorded a cell phone video of Bo chi-sucking the rapist to death, and who knows how THAT would have ended for Kenzi, once the Fae got wind of it and without Bo to protect her.)
I think what convinced Bo to stick with Kenzi was Kenzi’s dogged determination to help Bo. Kenzi says that her mother had told her to find the biggest, strongest kid on the playground and make friends with them. Kenzi broke into the Glass Factory and played what was probably a crucial role in helping Bo to not be killed during her test. Once Bo was convinced that Kenzi was there to stay, and worth keeping, they were fast friends. (It reminds me of the initial episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess where Xena tries to ditch Gabrielle at first, but Gabrielle simply refuses be ditched.)
The ache for home lives in all of us,
the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
Dr. Maya Angelou
It’s not just Bo who was estranged from her family – Kenzi had also spent several homeless years living in underground sewers and other places and to this day, we still don’t know the extent of what happened to her while she was on the run. We just know that it wasn’t good. Kenzi ran away from home due to her stepfather’s abuse and her mother’s inability or refusal to protect her child from the abuse.
Together, Bo and Kenzi are the heart of the show. Their friendship has ebbed and flowed, and in Season 4 experienced its most serious challenge yet after Hale died, which has set up an epic arc of reconciliation for Season 5.
Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another:
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
Dyson, Lauren, Hale and Trick have also been estranged from their families of origin and find family with each other, Bo and Kenzi. Dyson left his pack after discovering that the king he served sent his friend Stefan to his death in order to claim Stefan’s wife, Ciara. Dyson wandered for centuries as a lone wolf until he encountered Trick and swore fealty to him. For a long while, Trick and then Hale seemed to constitute Dyson’s new pack until Bo came on the scene. Being alone is an intolerably uncomfortable situation for a pack animal, which we witness to some extent in “La Fae Epoque” – Dyson has a reputation of drinking, whoring and generally being up to no good, but he clearly yearns for some higher purpose.
Lauren, we learn in Season 4, had been close with her brother and they had set out to change the world together, but that dream and that relationship ended abruptly. Her brother planted some pipe bombs that she built around an oil pipeline that wasn’t deserted like it was supposed to be, resulting in the deaths of 11 people. Lauren was around 17 or 18 at the time, and she ran away and changed her name – eerily paralleling Bo’s experience. Lauren appeared to have found some family with Nadia, but the Light Fae Ash ruined that for her by cursing Nadia in order to deceive Lauren into working for him.
Lauren and Bo have had their ups and downs, but the ending of Season 4 left them on firmer footing than the ending of any previous season.
Hale, by contrast, seems to have intentionally distanced himself from his family of origin and appears to hold values that aren’t in line with those of the Santiago clan. Even though his father is one of the most influential leaders among the Light Fae, Hale resists trading on his social status. His family disapproves of his choice to become a police officer and of his egalitarian views about humans. They would certainly have disapproved of his marriage proposal to Kenzi if they had been around to witness it.
Trick’s alienation from his family is interesting to consider, since he brought it upon himself. As a consequence of his insistence that his blood laws were infallible and his resistance to compromise, his wife Isabeau was killed. Then after his daughter Aife kills the Dark Fae she believes is responsible for her mother’s death, he hands her over to the Dark Fae for them to administer their version of justice. When he goes to visit Dao-Ming, he tries to answer her question by saying that he loved Isabeau the most, but eventually is forced to admit that he loves himself over all others. Given a chance to reconnect with his granddaughter, to date he has squandered the opportunity to achieve forgiveness and reconciliation in a most spectacular manner.
Tamsin, who joins the gang in Season 3, also is estranged from her family of origin. We learn in Season 4 that she committed a cardinal Valkyrie no-no when she agreed to give Rainer’s soul to Trick in exchange for more cycles in her own life. She only really becomes integrated as a full member of the gang when she is reincarnated in Season 4, and Kenzi and Bo raise her in a loving environment.
“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it’s possible?”
Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Throughout the first three seasons of Lost Girl, we meet so many people who are alone, astray and hurting, and we get to see them find each other and forge a strong family bond. During Season 4, we see them grow painfully apart from each other – mostly because the center of their family, Bo, had been memory-wiped, manipulated and traumatized. I think in Season 5 we’ll get to see Bo returning as the center of her family, helping to reassemble it and heal the wounds everyone has suffered. And perhaps her own, too.
Outside the story of Lost Girl and the world it has created, it has also created an opportunity for found families among fans (say that three times fast). I’ve met some awesome people through our shared bond of loving this show, people who have become very good friends. Lost Girl has given me amazing gifts by virtue of its message – gifts of greater understanding, affirmation and validation, among other things. But the friendships and the people I’ve found – I think this might be Lost Girl’s greatest gift to me.
Sometimes I see myself fine
Sometimes I need a witness
And I like the whole truth
But there are nights I only need forgiveness
Sometimes they say “I don’t know who you are
But let me walk with you some”
And I say “I am alone, that’s all
You can’t save me from all the wrong I’ve done”
But they’re waiting just the same
With their flashlights and their semaphores
And I’ll act like I have faith and like that faith never ends
But I really just have friends
Dar Williams, “My Friends”