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A Wee Bit Of Telly
We have to go back
Hey—if you’re in New York City, come to this comedy show we’re hosting tonight at 8! It’s at City Reliquary in Williamsburg! Tickets are $12 at the door. Bring an umbrella, just in case there’s a drizzle.
TV is pretty good. I have watched a lot of television in my life; in some ways, it’s made me smarter, but by every other metric, it’s rotted my brain into a steaming pile of goo. TV is comfort commodified; comfort abstracted away from your conditions to be delivered as pure information. As much as I can say I love doing exciting things, social things, new things, I know I’ll never be as comfortable and content as I am sitting feet up, fried rice in bowl, an episode of 30 Rock I’ve seen 23 times on the screen.
I’m here to defend the honor of one of the most popular, talked about shows of all time. It’s been written about to death, defended to death, pilloried to death, and yet I’m going to put my little beans into the take jar and regale you with my opinion:
LOST fucking rocks.
LOST is one of the best pieces of television ever made; something original yet familiar, philosophical but action-packed. It’s pure entertainment. It might lack real depth, but it makes up for it with really, really good fake depth, high production value, crazy acting, and excellent world-building. It’s a network creation, but it mostly feels like the writers don’t talk down to their audience, preferring to let ideas percolate than explicitly be stated.
For those who have never seen LOST, it’s 6 seasons long and has 121 episodes, all of which are 43-46 minutes long. This is, immediately, a core part of why it’s so good—all of those stupid filler episodes do the job of forcing you to spend time with characters. Each season establishes a little mini status quo, showing little stories and vignettes within that status quo, making it exciting when it’s disrupted or thrown out for a plot development. The plot moves, consistently, but when you think about how far it moves, the pace is glacial.
For some reason, and I’ll caveat this with a hard “IMHO,” it all just works. The world feels important and real, the characters are all deeply flawed and tragic, the themes resonate through the entire course of the series. There are specific moments, like the opening of Season 2, that are unbelievably good creative choices.
All of this comes together to create something that is less about any of the actual events of the show, but more about a general vibe of interconnectedness. The show takes elements of 60s and 70s hippiedom, rapacious global capitalism, ancient spells and prophecies and mysticism, scientific forces like electromagnetism, Christian tradition, Eastern spirituality, wildlife, herbalism, and personal catharsis and tragedy, and spellbindingly weaves them into a more or less cohesive narrative, proving that everything is connected to everything else, that all these disparate concepts and ideas and milieus that we see as separate, do in fact interact, just like in the real world.
You may have heard it’s a show about people on an island. What makes LOST so unique and exciting is that it treats place with such reverence. The geography of the Island remains consistent, most of the plot is about traveling to various locations on the Island, and regardless of where a scene was actually shot, the Island-y-ness of the place seeps through every location, indoors or out. There’s an almost oppressive sense of meaning, history, and purpose imbued into every place on the Island. It immediately feels important, in the same way that New York feels important to When Harry Met Sally. The way the idea of the Island was constructed is exciting, it’s unique, and it draws you in.
It does all of this while providing genuinely good, well-produced action, interpersonal conflict, and survival drama in each episode. It just fucking rules in every sense of the word, and I love it.
One of the weirdest parts of watching LOST well after the finale aired is understanding the place it sat in pop culture during its original run; the theories, the fan websites, the marketing campaign. For a show that is essentially completely about faith, spirituality, and belief, the godless secular head honchos at ABC seemed to think it was mostly about hot people on a beach. I guess that’s also true. I can’t imagine “casually” watching LOST—it’s one of these things that rewards attention to details, bringing seemingly irrelevant bits to the surface again and again.
When it comes to this show, I throw every possible semblance of distance or irony out the window. I no longer care about any of the “nerd” stuff I used to enjoy; Star Wars and Marvel and Doctor Who are all just boring to me now, but I will spend hours and hours reading /r/lost for fan theories and comments. I will literally laugh at LOST memes like the ones in this article. I’ve watched most of the behind the scenes videos and blooper reels. I’m far too deep in it.
But honestly? It feels so good to like something enough to just ignore all of its (deep, myriad) flaws. Feels fuckin’ goooood. 😎
LOST kicks ass. We watched it all over the course of 3 weeks during the lockdown, and I followed every single plot point and it all made perfect sense in my head. Jealous?