HBO’s “The Leftovers”

Posted on June 30, 2014

The-Leftovers-HBO-TV-Show-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOJustin Theroux in HBO’s “The Leftovers”

 

In the grand tradition of risk-taking television and the pushing of envelopes, The Leftovers seems determined to figure out just how much misery the average viewer will consider entertaining. Starting with the premise – a world in which 2% of the population simply disappeared, Rapture-style, leaving behind a bunch of seriously depressed survivors – and then following through in all the morose character work, it’s the television equivalent of a kid in the backseat of a car, constantly poking his sibling to see how far he can go before she starts howling and crying.

Not that there’s anything child-like about this show. Quite the contrary, it’s as adult as a show can get, exploring themes of loss and hopelessness on a grand scale -which is why this first episode is such a slog to get through. We’re helped along by some very good performances (although like everything else we’ve ever seen Justin Theroux do, we spent most of the time watching his performance and thinking he needs to switch to decaf) and beautiful photography, but in the end, we’re stuck with an hour-plus of really damaged people acting like assholes for reasons that aren’t particularly clear. And while we shouldn’t expect much in the way of clarity this soon in the story (or possibly ever), the problems with the show are making that ambiguity a little tough to swallow.

For one, the central family in this story is one of those TV drama families where all the members look like TV stars. That shouldn’t bother us so much except when the constantly drunk, meatloaf-eating father of the family keeps getting opportunities to show off his shaved chest and visible abs. It tends to work against any raw grittiness you’re trying to sell to the audience. Second, it’s not particularly innovative anymore to filter a worldwide catastrophe through the lens of small town America (let alone a single family). In fact, it’s a huge cliche. It’s early days, of course, but we get the impression that the only information we’re ever going to get about the rest of the world will be told through the hoary old trope of constantly having cable news playing on TVs in the backgrounds of all the scenes. Third, it’s another of those “a Really Bad Thing happens  - and then society just gives up” stories that tend to irritate us. At least in The Walking Dead, an actual apocalypse happened. It’s kind of hard to consider an event that 98% of the population survived to be apocalyptic. Weird and frightening and even traumatizing, sure. “Let’s all give up, join a cult, and start shooting dogs in the street?” Human beings have gone through countless periods of history where they were literally tripping over all the dead bodies piling up in the streets – and society, for the most part, kept going. We’re gonna need a little convincing here.

And that’s actually fine. The show has a quiet confidence that’s appealing; like it knows exactly where it wants to go and trusts in itself that it will get the audience there soon enough. Certainly, co-creator Damon Lindelof knows a thing or two about how to dole out information slowly, going by his time as one of the co-creators and chief architects of LOST. But Lindelof also has a reputation for being too obtuse; for relying too much on mystical hand-waving as a way of explanation (see: the execrable Prometheus), and for ignoring that which his audience wants most: answers and resolution. Four years after the LOST series finale, its reputation as a legendary bungle in the history of television has only grown. (As an aside, it’s not a view we share, as we loved LOST from beginning to end, but we were recently compelled to watch the entire series again and when you have the whole story, certain things are improved in the earlier seasons and certain other things fall apart. We’re planning on revisiting LOST as a series in a post soon.)

But it also has to be said that LOST still has its well-deserved reputation for creating fascinating, engrossing characters and then telling beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking stories about them. Lindelof may not be good about answers (which means this show is probably right for him, since it seem unconcerned with offering many), but he’s excellent at creating and nurturing characters you can’t help but love or care deeply about. On that level, this is a show worth looking into. It has a very good cast, a worthy pedigree, and an interesting (if not as fascinating as the show seems to think) premise. It’s worth tuning in to see where it’s going to go. But it’s not, in the strict sense of the word, entertaining. It would be silly to ask of levity from a story like this, but we sincerely hope every episode isn’t going to be stuffed to the rafters with grieving mothers and dogs being shot. Laugh-out-loud moments should not be expected, but we question whether there’s an audience that wants to spend every Sunday night getting deeply depressed.

 

[Photo Credit: HBO]

    • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

      Doesn’t sound like my sort of show at all, but the premise is intriguing. One of the things that always bugged me about Nevil Shute’s “On the beach” is that all the characters kill themselves and I just don’t think that is right – there is always going to be *someone* who has enough hope for the future to carry on.

      • Gatto Nero

        Though in “On the Beach” aren’t they all facing an inevitable and horrible death from an unstoppable wave of nuclear contamination? And I believe it was written as a cautionary tale, and the “no way out” premise (though arguably heavy handed) served to drive the point home.
        As for “The Leftovers,” if they’re shooting dogs in episode one, it’s probably not my kind of show.

        • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

          They are – but it still didn’t fly with me!

          • Gatto Nero

            I wish I had your attitude!

    • shirab

      “…we’re stuck with an hour-plus of really damaged people acting like assholes for reasons that aren’t particularly clear.”

      I think this line, which is genius in its simplicity and clarity, could be pasted into reviews for about 79% of television shows and movies.

      • formerlyAnon

        And, seeing as how I find this extremely easy to find in real life, is why I can’t invest in most of the t.v. shows and movies about which it is the case. If all I’m going to do is be vicariously depressed/horrified/infuriated, that’s not enough pay off.

        • demidaemon

          Really. I don’t necessarily want to see real life replicated in my TV, except on reality shows (which are usually, an absurd, high octane portrayal of this description, so I’m okay with that).

          Of course, Cold Case and Law and Order: CI, both tended to be unforgivably depressing, and both shows did pretty well and are still living on in syndication (and I truly enjoy both), so maybe this show will do well. Of course, they both had characters to root for as well, so maybe the comparison isn’t totally paralleled.

    • http://www.snoskred.org/ Snoskred

      Just 2% of the population vanished? This sounds like a bizarre idea for any show.

      I’m not sure it is interesting enough for me to give it a try especially when I have a hard drive full of stuff I want to watch – some of it for the second, third, fourth or umpteenth time. :)

      • Sobaika

        I thought it was an interesting (if random) amount – just enough people to make you go crazy, but not nearly enough that live doesn’t go on.

      • marlie

        Actually, now that I think about it, the premise is less convincing to me, it seems like <<>> more than 2% disappeared in the opening scenes.

        So that makes me wonder… are some populations affected more than others?

        • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

          That opening scene was a cheat. There’s no way to dramatically depict 2% of the population disappearing because it’s such a statistically insignificant number. Any disappearances would be isolated events and it would take some time to realize that they were connected to other events. Instead, they had three people (the baby, the crashing car, the father of the little boy) disappear from a scene that had no more than a dozen people in it, wildly throwing off the sense of the event. Later, they had a mother talk about the three members of her own family who disappeared. We realize that such things are statistically possible, but to frame the event that way is to give the viewer a distorted sense of it.

          • marlie

            I agree. That was part of what I was trying to say without giving away too much about the opening scene. That scene was definitely intended to be dramatic and compelling, and it was. The epidemiologist in me asks the question – if it’s 2% of the whole population, but all of those people in/near that parking lot, and 3/4 members of one family, are there any reasons why some people are more impacted than others? Having not read the book, I don’t know if there’s an explanation for that, or if they’ll address it in the show. OR, it’s just a way to draw in viewers, and the stats are meaningless (which I’m also totally ok with).

      • Fay Dearing

        Considering that 30 to 60% of Europe’s population died in the Black Death I find the idea that 2% of people vanishing causing the world to just stop to be a little silly. Then again, when those people died you had bodies while these people simply vanished. I still want to know how they’re going to turn overwhelming grief porn into an engaging series though. Especially if they’re like the book and never give an explanation as to why the people vanished.

    • RussellH88

      I haven’t seen the show, but I have read the book and it seems like a good fit for Lindelof because the book is really more interested in people reacting to the rapture as opposed to the rapture itself.

      I kinda hope that they don’t try to force any answers onto the mystery of the rapture, because the point of the book was how people interpreted something for which there was no answer.

      • AC Simons

        I read the book, too and thought it was intriguing. I’m always leery about movies/series based on books I really like and I think I’m going to pass on this one. Perotta is a great writer.

        • RussellH88

          I can be really protective of books that really hit me in the feels.

          That’s why the prospect of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay becoming a movie or mini-series fills me with total dread and white-hot anger.

          • semirose

            Oh geeze, I’m generally pretty good at divorcing books from the movies/shows based on them but my hand just spasmed and my brain went no at the thought of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay being adapted.

            • RussellH88

              It’s my favorite book of all-time. When I really, really, really love something, I tend to get protective of it and I’m incredibly protective of Kavalier and Clay. Like, if someone I knew was reading it, it would feel weird, almost like they were invading something that’s mine and mine alone. That’s very silly, I realize.

      • Alanna

        I’m about 80 pages from the end of the book, and I like that it apparently doesn’t give any clear answers. Instead of constantly searching for easter eggs on every page, it frees up my brain to just enjoy the writing and get to know the characters.

        • RussellH88

          That’s what I liked about it, because you’re just as in the dark as the characters. It would be a copout if the book actually validated on viewpoint by saying it’s God, Aliens, or some other cause. The confusion as to what happened is the driving force behind a lot of the character’s actions and it helps when you’re as clueless as they are.

    • deelup

      Haven’t seen the show. But that pic of Justin Theroux looks like a parody. I expect Jimmy Kimmel to be just out of frame. Or maybe a gaggle of women on a hen night.

    • angela rose

      i CANNOT WAIT for you to re-visit LOST. I miss those people, and like you, I loved it flaws and all.

      • BarniClaw

        Me, too! I just listened to Never Be Lost Again by Injustice League last night, for old times sake. Sigh.

        • GillianHolroyd

          oh god, your post made me look at it again and my nephew says, why are you crying?

        • angela rose

          I have now been introduced to Never Be Lost Again. Thank you. It will be my constant. ;)

        • Qitkat

          I had never heard of this. Thanks for the mention. It really really made me want to rewatch the show, from start to finish, as I skipped several episodes along the way.

      • marlie

        I kind of want to re-watch the whole season, myself.

      • Oh Goody Goody

        Might I politely vote (as if it matters) no to revisiting Lost. Did t we talk about it enough the first time around? Admittedly I gave up on the show around season two without regret (save perhaps for thinking there would actually be be answers to any questions beyond magical hand waving), and loads of your readers seem to enjoy it, but I’d rather see coverage of something new or previously unappreciated.

        As for the Remnants… Just 2% of all people? That’s barely a good plague. I’ll pass.

        • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

          Well, I appreciate the politeness, but “Please don’t write anything on this topic I’m not interested in” is one of the strangest requests we’ve ever heard. Why not just not read things you’re not interested in?

          • Oh Goody Goody

            I certainly agree, you guys can cover whatever topics, shows, and clothes you want. It is your site and it’s free for the reading. My wish, perhaps poorly put since I personally can’t see what hasn’t been said about Lost already, is that you guys focus on new things rather than covering old ground. There is only so much TLo prose to go around after all. I know I don’t have to read topics that don’t interest me (and I usually do not – though your recap of the Walking Dead is my only source on that show for example). I just wanted to offer one reader’s preference. Thank you both for all of it, even the bits I don’t read.

            • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

              Focus on new things, like… the review of the first episode of a brand new TV show above these comments?

              Look, I do appreciate the politeness and I’m not trying to be a bitch, but there’s nothing but new stuff all day, every day on this site. You’re complaining about one post where we thought we’d try something just a little different from what we normally do – and we haven’t even written it yet.

    • mommyca

      You say: “but we question whether there’s an audience that wants to spend every Sunday night getting deeply depressed.” and I give you “True Detective” :)

      I watched the show and what bugged me the most was that they jumped 3 years after “the event”… I was kind of disappointed, I wanted to see more of the immediate aftermath I guess or more of the actual “event”… But I will definitely keep watching since there are a lot of intriguing ideas… Specially the Guilty Remnants…

      • Gatto Nero

        I found “True Detective” deeply disturbing, but not depressing — partly because the acting and writing were mesmerizing, and my curiosity kept me engaged and hopeful for a resolution. If “The Leftovers” has the same qualities, that may be enough to sustain audience interest — at least for a while.

        • http://www.snoskred.org/ Snoskred

          I didn’t really find it disturbing or depressing. I thought the crime was pretty much irrelevant to the story. This one was all about the characters, for me, anyway. I found it pretty fascinating to watch great actors acting up a storm.

          And I *loved* watching what Matthew McC was doing with those beer cans. Seriously that is all you need to entertain me – a great actor, and beer can creations. They could make a tv show where he reads random stuff found on the internet and creates things out of beer cans and I would watch, lol. :)

          Imagine if they gave him some actual real materials, perhaps some pipe cleaners and beads. That would be some real tv magic. :)

          • Gatto Nero

            “True Detective” was completely character driven, it’s true, and a big part of the resolution for me was what would happen in the relationship between the two leads.
            Couldn’t take my eyes off of M McC.

          • ShaoLinKitten

            There’s a new show waiting to happen: Getting Crafty with Rust Cohle. He could drop wisdom in that weary, lilting voice, and make little sculptures from various household items, like an existentially angst-ridden Bob Ross. I’d watch it.

          • Grumpy Girl

            OMG YES! I haven’t even finished watching True Detective (2 or 3 more episodes/nights to go), but that was fascinating. His skinnied-down self is just so watchable, in the sense of what is being portrayed and being hidden. And the can art–my inner mom kept worrying about him cutting his hands (cause I always do when I try something crafty with cans–even something as crafty as cutting them in half.)

      • demidaemon

        Cold Case and Law and Order: CI (in fact, the entire Law and Order family) were also shows that were deeply depressing and yet did well and live on in syndication.

      • Melissa

        True Detective was partly about these lost men finding meaning. Whereas this show questions whether meaning is actually a thing. Find that far far more depressing personally, but your mileage may vary. TD did have a lot of child abuse.

    • AnaRoW

      “But it also has to be said that LOST still has its well-deserved reputation for creating fascinating, engrossing characters and then telling beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking stories about them.”

      It does? Aside from Linus and possibly Locke, who on that show was fascinating and engrossing? I’m not trying to be facetious. I mostly remember characterization taking a backseat to plot and intrigue. I don’t remember feeling compelled to care about any of the characters.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

        Let’s save the LOST discussion for the post we’ll have up later in the week.

        • AnaRoW

          Okay.

        • Shawn EH

          Can’t wait!

    • ShaoLinKitten

      I read the book and watched the show, and I found it rather… I don’t know. Banal? I mean, any exploration of what would happen when 2% of the population vanishes is going to be purely speculative. But I would think cult activity, religious backlash, and freaking out would be worse than what was depicted. The show does a better job than the book (so far) of depicting the violent, disturbing feelings evoked by the sudden disappearance of a random sampling of people. I’ll watch the show because hey, nothing else is on right now. AGREE 100% that Justin Theroux’s bod was highly distracting.

    • Clair Ellis

      I was not excited about this show. My BF and I watched GoT and now TB and with every commercial every Sunday night we got more and more unexcited about the show. First, HBO needs to learn how to advertise (which sounds like a silly thing to say) but when you watch weekly (daily most of the time) there is only SO MUCH you can take of one commercial before your just numb to it. Then I watched the last 10 minutes of the show (before John Oliver) and boo. The most exciting thing was shooting dogs. Not thrilled.

    • Sobaika

      Great review. I honestly found the show to be mildly intriguing but overall pretty self-indulgent. Navel-gazing, even. “So much sadness! Look at how the poor humans react! For an hour.”

    • MilaXX

      Can’t say I disagree with anything you’ve said here, but I am still interested enough at this point to continue to watch. My only quibble is I hope there aren’t any more scenes of animal cruelty. I don’t need to see another dog get shot or a pack of wild dogs taking down a deer. It’s the one thing I always have difficulty with seeing in film.

      As for a LOST revisit post, I’m down. I may do a rewatch in preparation.

      • ShaoLinKitten

        I agree–there was far too much animal violence for my taste. I get why it was included, but the scene with the deer made me queasy.

      • Sam Smith

        indeed, frankly animal deaths are generally more upsetting to me than people deaths (see GOT direwolves and the Mammoth). Maybe that is why those scenes are included, the directors know it pushes buttons.

        • MilaXX

          My brain always has a hard time remembering they are faked.

        • R.A.

          I agree :( same reason I went veggie.

    • Frank_821

      I won’t get to watch it. Dont have HBO but Lindelorf did say point blank in an interview they will not be trying to give out explanations. It’s all about how people react to be “left Behind”

    • SuzyQuzey

      They should have spent the first episode laying the groundwork of what happened. If you haven’t read the book, which I have and recommend highly, you are missing some pieces.

    • Judy_J

      I taped it but haven’t watched it yet. Spoilers don’t bother me, I tend to read the last chapter of a book before deciding if I want to read the whole thing or not. I’ll give this a shot based on the TLo review.

    • Laurieandclaire

      I literally cannot wait for a LOST post from TLo! I am still a hardcore LOST fan!

    • AnneElliot

      I was intrigued by this idea, though it does seem somewhat like another version of LOST, until I heard about the dog shooting. There’s no way I can watch it now, I’m just too soft-hearted when it comes to pets.

      Also Justin Theroux does not look like any real-life cop I have ever seen. Not ever, even with the stubble.

    • Tricia

      The only reason I’m really intrigued by this show is because I love Tom Perotta and the book. I was pleasantly surprised by the pilot; definitely willing to give the show a try. But yes, everyone looks a bit too Hollywood for small town life. Especially those “high school” kids, what the hell? I have a serious crush on Justin Theroux so I’m less upset by his unrealistic fitness…heh. My friend and I really lol’d at that Gary Busey line.

      • ShaoLinKitten

        Didn’t you think Jill was way too pretty? Based on Perotta’s description, I though she’d be plain next to Aimee. In this show, I think she’s prettier than Aimee. I could buy that Kevin would be in decent shape, as in the book he’s depicted as working out to get back into shape. But the full back tats didn’t really fit with what I imagined. Tom also had a number of tats, which I also found distracting. Everyone’s very pretty. Eh, it’s TV.

        • Tricia

          Yes, the tats were weird. And that one scene really lingered on them, which seemed like they’re supposed to have some meaning. He looks nothing like any middle-aged dad I’ve ever seen.

          • ShaoLinKitten

            You hit the nail on the head. It’s not so much that he doesn’t look like a cop (though most of the cops I know are much better groomed). He doesn’t look like a 45 year old father of a grown son and 17 year old daughter. Theroux is almost the right age, but has that hip, edgy look that gets ground off most middle aged dads. Having read the book, he’s not at all how I pictured Kevin.

            • marlie

              I had a hard time seeing him as the father of two adult/almost adult children as well. I know he’s old enough, but he just doesn’t SEEM it. The picture of him and his family when they kids were younger made more sense to me.

      • VictoriaDiNardo

        I loved that bit – and the list of famous people who had gone – Anthony Bourdain, JLo! So random and funny.

        • Tricia

          I loooved that they put Bourdain in there, haha.

      • Melissa

        Those teens were less convincing than 99% of the teenagers in slasher flicks. One could argue that these teens are reacting to circumstance, but I will not be the person making that claim. That weird bubble bath scene? What was that??

    • FoxInSocks

      I was planning to give it a chance, until the dog got shot (so, yeah, 5 minutes in?). Then I changed the channel. Sounds like I made the right choice for myself – the cast looked good, but I thought the premise of the show was kind of not my thing, I was SO SICK of the commercial, and then add in grisly animal violence … bleh. Pass.

      • stardust462

        For what it’s worth, they did explain by the end of the episode why the dog was shot.

        • FoxInSocks

          That’s good to know, at least.

    • crash1212

      I didn’t watch Lost, so maybe this isn’t the show for me. I’m going to give it one more Sunday and then decide. I find the premise irritating and I cannot abide watching animals be hurt – by men or by other animals. The people in white make me crazy as cults do. I guess what I’m saying is that there are enough irritating and depressing things in real life these days, why would I spend an hour of my life with these people when I don’t have to?

    • KinoEye

      OK, I’ve never seen LOST. I’ve been thinking of starting it, even just to watch a few seasons or so to get the gist of it. You’ve convinced me to try it. The TLo seal of approval hasn’t steered me wrong yet!

      Leftovers sounds interesting, but like you, I’d have a hard time with society losing its shit over 2% of the population. And maybe I’m seeing trends where they don’t exist, or it’s not really a trend, but there seems to be a lot of rapture-centric media out there lately. Are we all subconsciously worried about it or something? Interesting.

    • WendyD

      Maybe my BK heart really is made of coal because I didn’t find it THAT depressing. I was fascinated with the characters and the setup of story lines and hey! look over there, it’s Buddy Garrity! Texas Forever!

    • tylka5

      The book was excellent so I am willing to give this show a chance. I actually liked the set-up of this first show, yes it’s sad and depressing, but I want to see what happens with all of these people.

    • Izzy Dunne

      Uncles, I am THRILLED to hear that you will be doing a LOST post. Remains one of my favorite shows (I was also okay with the end), and I’m psyched to hear some commentary from my favorite TV critics.

    • Shawn EH

      The cast is the key for me. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been waiting to see Amy Brennamen in something I would actually watch again (since Judging Amy); the teens are mostly interesting; and Justin Theroux is now my Sausage Sunday, how realistic he is as a cop is totally irrelevant! He wants his life back, that I get. I think the problem isn’t that 2% of the population were lost; it’s that 2% of the population were …. something, and nobody knows what. Thus the closure that everyone is denied.

      • Alanna

        One of the key elements of the book is that the 2% were a completely random cross-section of humanity: all races, religions, ages, locations, and so on. That would add an extra level of freakout, as it couldn’t be explained away as “So-and-so was chosen for X reason.”

        • VictoriaDiNardo

          Exactly. While I had the same reaction and Tom and Lorenzo at first – just 2%! – I think it’s the unknown factor that would make people crazy. The plague, the influenza, wars, you knew the cause. But to me it’s like people going nuts over the Malaysian airliner disappearance – not knowing what happened.

          • Gatto Nero

            The 2% factor also reduces the scale, makes it in a sense more personal. Fewer families are affected, and therefore they feel more confused and marginalized than they would in a large-scale disaster (I guess).

          • Alanna

            Yup! “Just 2%” is still a ton of people. Someone in the AV Club comments complained that Mapleton was “disproportionately hard-hit by the disappearances.” Well, let’s say Mapleton has 30,000 residents. Two percent of that would still be 600 people. That’s a pretty damned big chunk of the population for a small town — hell, it’d be a shock here in metro Atlanta (population nearly 6 million). Even a few dozen would cause me to seriously freak out, especially if we had no answers. Your analogy of the MH370 is an excellent one.

    • MannahattaMamma

      Well, grieving mothers & dogs being shot are better–probably–than the reverse, although I guess that depends on how you feel about dogs & mothers.

    • formerlyAnon

      Human beings have gone through countless periods of history where they were literally tripping over all the dead bodies piling up in the streets – and society for the most part, kept going. We’re gonna need a little convincing here.

      Yup. Nailed my issues right there.

      • Sonny

        I feel like if you are going to do something “high concept” you have to actually think it through and be realistic or go for fun and silly. I can buy that there are cults since it was a Rapture-like event but stuff like a wild dog pack is ridiculous – why on earth would that happen if only a small portion of the population disappeared? At least 3% of the world’s population died of Spanish Influenza right after a devastating war and people were just like, screw it, let’s start wearing short skirts and drinking gin tonics.

    • AndieJay

      There was a ginormous banner ad for this show on Yahoo yesterday, so I clicked it and watched the trailer. And afterwards I actually thought “WHY would anyone put themselves through that?” I like closure in my entertainment because I don’t get to have it so much in my actual life. And I don’t want to be horrified and broken-hearted by a television show on a weekly basis. So I’m gonna pass.

      • AndieJay

        Ugh. I liked my own post and I didn’t mean to.

    • Heather

      I think my disappointment with Lost was not realizing until later that it was not a mystery, it was a character drama with a really odd/mysterious setting and they never really had any intention of solving the mysteries. I think True Detective was like that as well.

      I think I can enjoy The Leftovers more if I realize that going in, but I’m not sure I liked the episode last night. Without knowing the characters’ motivations, it was really hard to follow their actions. This might be one of those shows that is better on the re-watch once you have more information. Since there’s a book as source material, that may help the consistency and lack the “making it up as we go along” feel that I feel like Lost had.

    • mellusions

      I’m not sure I really get the ’2% isn’t a lot of people’ points being made everywhere I see this reviewed. Sure, as a society we have lost more than that (or as much as that) but this is 2% all at the same time, totally randomly, for no discernible reason whatsoever. It wasn’t a slow drip that would allow you to acclimatize to it, to a certain extent. Maybe even more importantly, in this day and age: there are no terrorists or bogeymen to channel your anger towards. There is no one – period – to channel ANYTHING towards because there is literally no one to blame. It’s random, on a massive scale, and there is no way to know if/when it will happen again. That sounds terrifying to me. Do you start to put your life together again or do you say eff it because you could disappear at any second? What do you do when it becomes apparent there is no point to your struggle? It’s like all the pretenses we use to get through the day have been torn off at the same time. That’s where the chaos comes from, IMHO.

    • c.

      I thought this pilot was pretty engaging (most are though). I will admit the reveal of Kevin’s wife got me, I didn’t see that coming. I liked the teenage daughter’s story, which is something I honestly never expected because tv kids that aren’t Sally Draper are usually so over the top and annoying I can’t deal with them. That party and the iPhone app ‘game’ they were playing was a little much though and sort of tipped into over the top — the burning oh god yikes.

      The weakest part for me was the Wayne cult and Kevin’s son. I just…was not interested in any of that. Those parts were definitely the slog for me.

      All the celebrities who got taken made me laugh out loud. Let us all bow our heads for the loss of Jennifer Lopez.

    • Tom Robinson

      Great critique. With you all the way. Intrigue. Mystery. Yada yada.

      But the one question that burned in my mind afterward: did wardrobe intentionally put Justin Theroux in a pair of sweatpants that would show off every, ahem, inch of character he has?? Cuz damn. I see why Jennifer is in love.

    • phylora

      “….but we question whether there’s an audience that wants to spend every Sunday night getting deeply depressed.” Exactly what I thought.

    • Bonnie B

      Please please please PLEASE do a Lost recast! I too loved it, and would love to hear your takes/opinions – and all the fun debate that will go along w it in the discussions!

    • http://vhanna26.typepad.com Vera

      I slogged through last night’s episode too although I have heard that it does get better–especially a storyline with Chris Eccleston (who I <3)–so I'll hang out for a couple more. Wish they would have added Jennifer Anniston and Steven Tyler to the list the celebs who disappeared. That would have been a clever nod in such a relentlessly downbeat premier.

    • Melissa

      My thoughts exactly. I love Lost, though I hated the ending. The characters were deep enough to still make it a valuable show for me. But thus far (and it’s only one episode granted) none of these people are nabbing me. I’m not sure I’m enough of a masochist to enjoy having my face rubbed in the futility of seeking meaning in existence and tragedy for an hour a week, especially since they aren’t saying new about it as far as I can tell. I could just stare at my father’s ashes or read a wiki page on the nuclear holocaust instead of watching dogs get shot and teenagers choke each other and cry. That leaves the mystery as the main draw for me, and I’m not so sure it’ll get solved.

      • Melissa

        Also, the title is unintentionally hilarious. Existential cold pizza. Your mom’s casserole, filled with grief and terror.

    • kategs

      I am willing to keep trying on this one. Many good actors and a story line that has promise. and another thing? Prometheus was terrific!!!!!

    • Rroxy

      That’s exactly what I asked myself: am I going to put up with this much depression and angst for weeks on end? Don’t know. The show is by no means bad, but watching a lot of people make asses of themselves on a regular basis gets old pretty quickly. What a ringing endorsement of the human spirit: no one, and I mean, no one in this immediate family disappears. Presumably a brother or sister, or parent, of the husband or wife did, but the whole family, father, mother, son and daughter was lucky (?) enough to stay put. Reactions? The dad is now a drunk, the mom, for some unfathomable reason, joined a stupid cult of people who dress like mental patients, but whites only, please, and refuse to speak, leaving their two teenagers to fend for themselves, basically. The son seems to be joining another cult, lead by a very disturbed individual, and the daughter… Well, let’s say she’s experimenting. I can understand people being freaked out and wondering if anything is worth doing if you can just disappear without warning… That’s life in itself, though. Here today, gone tomorrow. But the human capacity for denial being what it is, I would think everyone except for the few deeply hurt (lost a spouse, a child), would pretty much be getting back on track, two, or is three years later? I guess we’ll see. Those of us who keep watching, anyway.

    • EEKstl

      I finished the first episode knowing I’ll keep tuning in but wondering whether I’ll want to after awhile. But I’m more than willing to see where it goes, especially if TLo is right there with me!

    • Erin Kristoff

      “but we question whether there’s an audience that wants to spend every Sunday night getting deeply depressed.” Yes there is. We just finished watching Game of Thrones ;)

    • dmkava

      The second episode pays off some of the first’s “wtf?” moments. I thought that was a beautiful ending to the 2nd ep. Still, I hope we get some flashbacks showing why Amy Brennaman’s character joined the cult.