The last ten days or so I’ve been caught up in watching the TV series “Lost” on Netflix which ran from 2004 to 2010. That’s right! Six years with a total of 125 shows. I haven’t had a TV since 2009 and never seem to watch anything in real time anymore. I’m still catching up on programs from five years ago.
If you haven’t seen “Lost” the premise is simple. Plane crashes on unknown desert island and the survivors try to survive until they are rescued. There are other inhabitants, strange temples, secret laboratories, semi-immortal beings, Men in Black, etc., all punctuated by murder, lying, betrayal, battles, theft, love and loss. All of the ingredients of an epic drama. What’s not to like?
Partly, what kept me so riveted were the characters. They were larger than life and after a while reminded me of the gods and goddesses of mythology – which is just another way to categorize outmoded religions. There was a struggle for leadership of the group which often resulted in people dying after which one of the main characters would feel remorse (or not) and then try to make it right by doing it again. In other words, they were always trying to ‘fix things’ that resulted from their self-serving actions or misjudgments.
This desire to ‘do it again and do it right this time’ was one of the recurring themes of the series. In fact, as the story progressed, time travel and alternate lives/realties played a role. What would life be like if the plane hadn’t crashed, or so-and-so hadn’t died, or the castaways were rescued? The desire of the characters to change ‘reality’ into what they wanted was at once frustrating to watch as well as poignant for I could see every man’s struggle therein. I won’t be giving anything away by saying that in the finale the message was “to let go and move on.”
I was astonished by the number of times a character would lie to the others, withhold information or betray their friends. They would agree to do something and then not keep their word. At the same time, the other characters would somehow forgive them, give them another chance and repeat the cycle. This was a pattern for all of the characters. Sin/error, forgiveness, second chance, sin/error, forgiveness, third chance.
Then there were the recurrent questions such as “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? “ It’s not surprising to me that the series was such a great hit – in fact, some consider it one of the best series ever on TV. The island offered the perfect stage for the game of life in all its complexities and the characters were very convincing in their roles. It underscored the message that this earth and this life is just a play in which we all take part.
As I said, it was an epic presentation with its themes of life and death and the larger-than-life characters specifically because of their flaws were very believable. The suspension of disbelief allowed me to watch it as a morality play – the same possibility Star Wars offers – and to see myself and those I know in the cast.
I read various reviews of the series after I watched it and other viewers were vehement in their reactions – from total support and praise to angry denouncements and disappointment. Granted, there were some dangling plot points and unresolved issues but the story line wasn’t written all at one time. TV shows can be canceled at any time and there is no reason to plan too far ahead, making it that much easier to leave loose strings. I have more thoughts engendered by this show that I will address in a later post.