Friday, May 27, 2011

Lost: One Year Later

*WARNING: There are spoilers about Lost in this post. Though at this point it really shouldn't matter anymore, if you're really trying to avoid knowing what happened, you've been warned.*

One year ago this week, "The End," the final episode of Lost, aired. I sat at home, watching it on my couch (a rarity, given how little actually TV I watch as a college student), absorbing every second of this episode knowing that it would be the last. And yes, in case you were wondering, I bawled like a baby during those final moments. And with the one-year anniversary, I wanted to write a post that allowed me to look back at the show and write about what it meant to me and where I stand one year later (sure, I could have made this a "where are they now?" deal, but Entertainment Weekly's already done that).

There were a number of reasons why the finale brought forth those tears. Within the realm of the show, I was touched by the warm sentimentality of the characters meeting in a purgatory of their own creation, biding their time until everyone arrived to move on into the afterlife. I loved that couples such as Jin and Sun were reunited, and that characters long gone returned (Boone!). And I loved how the episode focused on the show's greatest strength: the interactions, relationships, and personal journeys of the characters. This is something I maintain many either did not realize or did not understand about the show: it was indeed a sci-fi mystery show, and there were plenty of questions asked in regards to what the island was and what it all meant, but this was all secondary to the individual characters' journeys. Sure, the hatch was interesting and deserved explanation, but would it have mattered if not for Locke's spiritual attachment to the island? When Lost ended, there were a lot of questions left unanswered, but I'm still convinced that few of those questions involved the characters. Do we really need to know why the notebooks from the Question-Mark Station ended up in the middle of the jungle? Of course not. The fact of the matter is, it was color added to the plot to keep you guessing. In life, we don't learn the answers to everything. And Lost was smart enough to know that, letting us know only what any given character knew and nothing more. This decision added to the impact of those final, character-based moments; it helped forage an audience connection to the characters, allowing fans such as myself to become closer to them.

The end of Lost came at an interesting time for me, personally. I was going to be moving two times in as many weeks: once from a house outside of town to one in town with my family, and again to an apartment in Carrboro with my then-girlfriend. In many ways, then, it was the end of one period of my life and the beginning of a new one. I was living on my own for the first time in my life, and the prospect was plenty terrifying. I was venturing forth into new territory, with no tethers of experience to assist me (well, maybe that's not completely true, but living in a dorm room is not the same as living in an apartment).

I was foraging on without fandom as well. I unabashedly loved Lost; I could never pick one movie as my favorite, but I could easily call Lost my favorite TV show without adding any modifiers to it such as "comedy" or "drama" or "contemporary." I was, in every sense of the word, a fan. I never could have written about Lost the same way I write about Glee in weekly recaps. I know that the show was not perfect, and in the back of my mind I knew that at the time, but I made (and still make) excuses and theories for any plot holes or character anomalies. I defended the quality of that show with all my heart, and refused to let anyone convince me that there was anything better on TV. That's not to say I didn't hear their arguments and checked these shows out; I actually enjoyed quite a bit of them (Mad Men stands as a good example), but I never agreed that these shows were better than Lost. Every year at the Emmys, I would hope that Lost would clean up, taking prizes wherever it could (it did win the Best Drama Series Emmy for its first season, but of course I think it should have six of those; if nothing else, it should have won last year for its final season). And when Lost left the airwaves, I no longer had a show that I felt so passionately about to watch the next season.

However, don't think that I wasn't without Lost: I received the complete series box-set of DVDs for Christmas, so that I could go back and revisit the show whenever I wanted. And I geeked-out big time over the set: the box it came in was packed with mysteries, and you could use a blacklight to uncover a secret compartment with a small scroll inside a replica on the Ankh. That's not even to mention the various secret features on the bonus DVD, such as the footnote "The New Guy in Charge," suggesting what Hurley's administration as protector of the Island was like. Needless to say it was nerdgasm at its finest.

Immediately, just like the networks, I set out looking for the next Lost, a show that I could develop a strong relationship with. Out of the shows I was already watching, there were slim pickings. I've already written about House on here; Glee was too up-and-down in terms of quality, 30 Rock and Modern Family were funny but didn't provide avenues for falling completely in love with the characters, V quickly devolved for a bad thriller with good intentions to a parody of itself, and Flashforward had already sealed its fate as a one-and-done show. So with nothing already in the stable, I turned to the shows that would soon be premiering. Consciously or not, I ended up going for the shows that most resembled Lost: sci-fi/thrillers that had large casts, hoping that one of these would recapture that magic. Alas, neither one did; No Ordinary Family was hokey and bland, while The Event had horrendous pacing problems, terrible characters, and no clear idea of where it was going. Of the other new shows I started watching (Louie, Running Wilde, Lone Star, The Chicago Code, Undercovers, The Walking Dead, Archer), none of them had me fanatic either. This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy those shows - Louie, Archer and The Chicago Code were easily my favorites - but they never allowed me to get involved the way Lost did. Though I should say that in the case of The Chicago Code, had the show gotten a second season it could have become that show for me.

This is something I've thought about for a long time. Would I ever find another Lost? Is it possible for me to become so deeply involved in a show, to form relationships with the characters to where I legitimately feel like I know them as people, that I can call myself a fan of that show? One year later, I still haven't found fandom on TV again. But I'm still taking steps toward finding it: this summer I'm going to try catching up on shows I haven't been watching but want to such as Breaking Bad, True Blood, and Fringe. Maybe my next TV fandom is hiding in one of these shows, just waiting to be awakened. Maybe not.

There is one show that comes close, though. There is a show with dynamite writing, marvelous direction,and a colorful cast of characters. Though the actor portraying the main character gets most of the accolades, the entire cast is magnificent, making each and every character interesting and layered and even dangerous. It's a show that hypnotizes me, a show that I genuinely look forward to seeing every week and find myself thinking about from time to time. And unlike most shows, those thoughts aren't about whether I should continue watching the show or about the quality of it, but rather about the action and characters within the show and what would happen next. I'm not quite as passionate about this show as I was Lost, but after the stellar second season it just had, I've got high hopes for the third and believe I might just be able to call myself a fan (hell, I may even decide so just going back and watching the first two seasons again). What show is this?

Yes, it is Justified. I'd kill for the opportunity to meet or be Raylan Givens. If only I looked good in a Stetson...

There's my story, one year after Lost. I still miss the show dearly, but at the same time I'm glad it came to an end before it lost its way. It chose the perfect time to close its narrative, and as I said before, I can go back and revisit this world and these characters whenever I want. But the thought that these episodes are the only ones I'll ever have is still sad, and I hope that one day I'll be able to extend my fandom into another show the same way. It won't completely be the same, but it will be something. One year later, the search for that show continues.

So let me ask you this: were you a fan of Lost? If not, what show or shows are you a fan of, if any? I'd love to hear other stories of fandom. Please share!

And in case you wanted to do a little reading, here's the other posts that I have written about Lost in the past.


Squasher88 said...

Dude, I feel you on this one! I was a Lostie too and there really is nothing like it out there. The character development, the script, the music were all exceptional. I am also looking for something to replace it(and also Friday Night Lights, which I miss greatly) and I haven't had much luck. Flash Forward was a terrible attempt at targeting the fans of Lost. I'm a big fan of Mad Men, but it has been on such a long hiatus. I've resigned myself to comedies (Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Glee). Oh well, there's a whole world of movies out there!

Jason H. said...

A whole world indeed. I'm glad to know a fellow Lostie who still enjoys the show and didn't turn on it just because the finale didn't episode every single meaningless question the show brought up in its six-year run.

Jose said...

True Blood and Mad Men!
Lost lost me after season two and I've been lazy since to try and catch up with it.

Jason H. said...

I'm really excited about True Blood. Lost is worth catching up on, but you've got to be patient with it.

Anonymous said...

no show will ever compare to lost. you should really watch prison break and weeds

Jason H. said...

I like the premise of Prison Break's first season, but I'm iffy about whether the whole series is really worth it. Weeds, on the other hand, I've seen the first season of, and though there don't really seem to be any "characters" as opposed to "personality quirks and labels," I enjoy it enough to keep watching.

joem18b said...

The thing I liked best about Lost was its unpredictability. Since its end, the shows that I've watched that have had at least a little bit of that feel have been Fringe, Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, BSG, and Caprica.

Fringe - so annoying with its many one-off episodes, adding some little teaser of the through story at the end of an hour. But halfway through season 2, I keep hoping, with it being Abrams baby, as Lost was, and with the mystery guy being played by Leonard Nimoy, who crops up from time to time.

I was sorry to see Terminator canceled. The series introduced multi-universes with its time travel in season 2. Summer Glau was developing feelings. A lot of possibility remaining.