Lockwood & Co. Is One Of The Best Of Its Genre

By | March 8, 2023

Lockwood & Co. Is So Much Better Than Expected

I dismissed Lockwood & Co. during my first exposure to it. A random segment of the show I walked past didn’t impress me. But now, having seen the first three episodes, I must admit how wrong I was. This is not only one of the best recent paranormal thrillers/horror urban fantasies, but it’s a good show in any context.

Let’s start with the thing that most impressed me: the worldbuilding. Specifically, how unapologetically morbid its world is. The simple summary is this: in an alternative history, ghosts are confirmed real, are active, malicious, and can kill with a single touch. They’ve already slaughtered many. The only people who can perceive them enough to do anything about it are usually children—and those children are treated by society as dispensable soldiers with very few rights.

And this is, without hyperbole, one of the cleverest premises to base a series like this on. The usual questions of the YA genre are subverted; there’s a plot-relevant reason for teenagers to be in danger and unable to ask for adult help. It also sets up ever-increasing layers of authority figures to disobey or fight against. The ghost rules are even a clever budgetary trick: no need to deal with CGI interacting too much with human actors.

Each Aspect Of The Plot Works In Stellar Harmony

And they do an incredible job of establishing all this lore underpinning Lockwood & Co. without excessive info-dumping. These characters all know how ghosts work—because obviously they would—so people don’t stop to explain unless it’s in a teaching environment. Rules and common fighting tactics are explained with context clues and well-integrated dialog. Though, if you did miss something for any reason, the intro sequence also spells out most of the lore in a fun, stylish way.  

The character writing is equally impressive. Most of the cast fall into instantly understandable archetypes, but they also have flaws, personality quirks, and a real dynamic with each other. Tiny moments like a forgotten apple core and using the tablecloth to send swears at each other make them feel like real teenagers. The sarcasm-heavy dialog is a little too quippy and fast for naturalistic speech—but that’s a fun feature of Lockwood & Co., not a bug. Some of the taunts and barbs genuinely made me smile.  

It also helps that they all actually feel like friends. Each of the core trio plays off the others in different ways. Anthony Lockwood (played by Cameron Chapman) and George Karim (played by Ali Hadji-Heshmati) have an air of both deep respect and strong annoyance with each other. Lucy Carlyle (played by Ruby Stokes) and Lockwood have a streak of making reckless decisions inspired by their otherwise reliable competence. George and Lucy even get one or two scenes together to help cement them as teammates—though that is the least used combination. And, of course, the three of them as a group produce fun teamwork moments and general energetic banter—though sometimes almost immersion-breaking banter, given the danger level.

Lockwood & Co. Thrives Off Charming Characters

But it’s here where my review of Lockwood & Co. would be incomplete if I didn’t at least mention the shipping. Yes, Lucy and Lockwood have a clear attraction for each other, and the actors do a good job of communicating that through body language and facial cues without it ever being outright stated. But it often felt a little unnecessary, given how much stuff is already happening in the plot. I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt from the first three episodes, but if they drag it out until the finale or use it as season two bait, then it’s getting a negative mark from me.

Normally, this is where I’d segue into my general complaints and devote several paragraphs to the negatives—but I just don’t have that many bad things to say. I’m worried Lucy or Lockwood will get some unique superpower (like ghost immunity or making ghosts friendly), thus tarnishing the worldbuilding and lessening the stakes—but that seems only mildly possible. Concretely, I have only a few issues. The show has the all-too-common problem of drifting toward sexualizing its teenage characters. Its special effects, while well-utilized, look a little awkward sometimes. And it (mostly in the “evil monks” scenes) uses plot convenience or ill-defined rules to rescue characters who shouldn’t have been able to survive.

But that’s about it, really. After shows like The Order, The Irregulars, and October Faction sunk any hope I had of a new, interesting, horror-adjacent urban fantasy series, Lockwood & Co. is practically a revelation. I have no idea how the source novels are or how accurate this show might be to them, but this is how you do a serialized urban fantasy story for television. This is how you balance monster-of-the-week stories within a wider narrative. Lockwood & Co. is a spooky, well-written, well-paced show you absolutely should watch.

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