Legion may be all about ultra-powerful mutant David Haller (Dan Stevens), but the real star of the trippy drama is Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny. Lenny is the favoured mask of David’s equally powerful mutant brain parasite, the Shadow King. In season 1 finale "Chapter 8" Lenny finds herself decaying because David’s super friends manage to create a device to limit his evil mind parasite. And this is where I noticed a big, glaring problem.
In Legion’s perfectly baffling way, David’s mutant girlfriend Syd (Rachel Keller) ends up in an alternate reality with Lenny, who looks the worst she has all season. She’s the colour of a corpse, she’s dripping tar, and she has armpit hair. Yes, armpit hair.
If you’ve ever watched a single zombie movie or TV show, you know women aren’t even allowed to have body hair in the freaking apocalypse, despite the fact they take showers about once a year and are constantly on the run from the brain-eating undead. When do they have time to lather up and whip out their Venus Embrace? We’ll never know, but heavens forbid we’re forced see these ladies with stubble.
That bizarre sensibility is what makes Lenny’s tufts of underarm hair so striking. We literally never glimpse body hair on a female body on television. It would be amazing if Legion’s decision to give a character underarm hair was in opposition to one of our most subtly misogynistic pop culture phenomenons, but it only enforces it.
Lenny’s armpit hair solely exists to quickly and efficiently signal how decrepit her "body" is and to remind you she’s basically evil incarnate.
The villain sports other traditionally masculine aesthetics in the scene — and throughout the series — like her unkept bob cut and grimy, newsboy-ish clothes. Lenny’s lack of femininity is only amplified in the tense moment by Syd, who’s the picture of retro girlishness. The mutant purposefully looks virginal with her doe-eyed gaze and all-white outfit, complete with ladylike gloves.
Legion drives home how corrupted body haired Lenny is when she drags one tar-covered finger across Syd’s pristine lips. For all we know, the mutant instantly grew her own subversive armpit carpeting.
Over eight episodes, the X-Men-inspired drama tackled mental illness, otherness, and the over-stuffed superhero genre with more savvy than nearly any other show on television. Let's hope Legion can add women's bodies to that list of success stories next season.