Wednesday, September 10, 2014


In Variety, Andrew Wallenstein compares The Leftovers, which just finished its first season, with Lost.  The comparison may be understandable inasmuch as the former is producer Damon Lindelof's first series since he ended Lost so controversially.  But really the comparison isn't very helpful.  Okay, they're both dramas with large casts and a central mystery, but the focus is different.

Lost was about airplane crash survivors landing on a mysterious island with seemingly magical properties.  They discover more people on the island and find out more about how strange the island and its inhabitants are.  All along we're waiting to find out the answers to the show's many mysteries.

Meanwhile, The Leftovers starts with 2% of the Earth's population suddenly disappearing.  We then cut to almost a year later and focus on a small town in upstate New York as the citizens try to go on with their lives.  There's no indication that anyone will figure out how or why those millions disappeared, so there's not much of an engine to the show. It's more about how people deal with their grief.  Really there's no mystery to solve--or at least no indication we're expected to see it solved--and the show would rather investigate humanity.  (Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we will finally discover why the event happened. But unlike Lost, where the characters were constantly trying to figure out the mysteries, The Leftovers spends essentially no time on this--many in the world have tried to figure it out and so far all have failed.)

So when Wallenstein writes "Please, Damon, whatever went wrong with 'Lost'…don’t let it happen to 'Leftovers' " it doesn't make any sense.  Whatever went wrong with Lost doesn't apply to The Leftovers. But then, I'm not sure that Wallenstein gets Lost.

Here's how he puts it:

For all the acclaim “Lost” drew since becoming a hit on ABC a decade ago, there was also a considerable backlash that battered [Damon Lindelof  and partner] Carlton Cuse after a finale oft criticized for not adequately tying up the show’s many mysteries

[,,,,] Make no mistake: “Lost” collapsed under the weight of a mythology so intricately built that it simply imploded. If “Leftovers” isn’t careful, the same fate could await it.

No, a thousand times, no.  As a secondary issue for some, Lost didn't adequately tie up its mysteries.  But, in fact, it did tie up most of the mysteries--it's the poor answers that bother so many fans.  And, in general, the wrong direction and poor storytelling of the series final season was also a problem.  It didn't implode under the intricate mythology--it gave answers that made millions feel cheated because it went in a direction they (including me) didn't want.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll admit that I haven't paid all that much attention to The Leftovers but its been on and I've seen parts of several episodes but I thought it was set in Wisconsin but I have no idea where I got that idea.

Oh yeah, I would like to see the white-clad smoker cult members get beat up a lot more often. They are just annoying.

12:25 PM, September 10, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Then watch the first season finale, where the whole town takes them on.

12:31 PM, September 10, 2014  
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