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The Leftovers (season 01)

Late to the Party: Josh Reviews The Leftovers Season One

The Leftovers ran for three seasons on HBO, between 2014-2017.  The series was created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, based on Mr. Perotta’s novel.  It takes place three years after 2% of the population “departed” — vanished into thin air in circumstances that are impossible to conclusively explain.  (Was it the Rapture?)  The series explores the lives of many of the denizens of a small town, Mapleton, in Upstate New York.  As we get to know these characters, it becomes clear that each and everyone of them has been deeply damaged by the after-effects of the Sudden Departure, whether or not they actually lost any immediate family members.  One of the show’s central questions is whether that damage is beyond any possibility of repair.

Having been burned by the ending of Lost, I was not interested in watching Mr. Lindelof’s next TV series, so I skipped The Leftovers when it originally ran.  (I’ve written a lot about Lost on this site.  In short, I loved the series but was deeply disappointed by the final season.  I actually quite like the final episode itself.  But I was shocked and heartbroken that the final season refused to answer almost any of the mysteries the show had carefully constructed over the previous five seasons.  It felt to me like a complete betrayal of the audience who had invested so deeply in the show’s story.)  Despite the critical acclaim surrounding The Leftovers — I remember reading about it on a lot of best-of-the-year lists during its run — I couldn’t bring myself to take the plunge.  I wasn’t ready to have my heart broken by a Damon Lindelof TV show again, and everything I’d read about the series’ depressing subject matter kept me away.  Over the years, though, various friends whose opinions I respect have been telling me I need to watch the show.  And then last year I watched and loved Watchmen, the HBO series overseen by Mr. Lindelof (based on the spectacular comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons).  So I decided maybe it was finally time to listen to my friends and give The Leftovers a chance.

My friends all told me the same two things about The Leftovers.  They told me that I needed to brace myself that (like Lost) many of the core mysteries at the show’s center would not be answered.  And they told me that while the first season was incredibly depressing, I needed to stick with the show for all three seasons, because it’s be worth it.

Having now watched the first season (and I’m already deep into the second), I am already very glad that I have finally taken … [continued]