If you haven’t read In Defense of LOST Part 1 – Common Criticisms, do so now! Or don’t. It’s up to you.
If you’ve taken a look around Tome of Nerd, it’s pretty obvious that Lost is one of my favorite shows. I have written about it from a completely ridiculous perspective and also from a fairly analytical point-of-view. No matter how you spin it, I love Lost.
That being said, Lost is undeniably one of the most controversial shows of our time. When you’re sitting around the dinner table with family, remember to avoid talking about politics, religion, and Lost. I’ve heard everything from “Oh yeah… Lost… sigh…” to “Oh my God Lost is so dumb!” When I admit that I love the show, suddenly I’m on the defensive. How could I possibly love such a mess of a show?
Well, this is my defense and justification for loving Lost. I am not arguing that everyone should love Lost. Nor am I saying the show is perfect by any means. I have a lot of complaints about the show myself. My hope is merely to state clearly why some of the common arguments against the show aren’t the greatest and why it remains one of my favorites.
It goes without saying that I am going to talk about moments throughout the entirety of the series, including the end. If you don’t want spoilers for a show that has been off the air for over seven years, turn back now.
For as much hype surrounded the many mysteries of the show, Lost was always a character driven drama. And that is a good thing, because the show created some of the most memorable characters in television.
The majority of the main cast is instantly compelling. Kate is a convict on the run. Sawyer a conman looking for revenge. Locke was paralyzed before crashing on the island. Yes, their origin stories were rooted in mystery but we cared because the characters were so damn interesting. And we cared about them.
Something fairly unique to Lost is that they kept creating more quality characters. Desmond didn’t really come into his own until Season 3, yet he is probably my favorite character on the show. Juliette wasn’t around long compared to the original cast, but she fit right in. And how can we not at least mention Ben, the ultimate manipulator you couldn’t help but love.
Lost‘s greatest moments stem from the characters. It was tragic when Walt was stolen because we spent a season learning about his relationship with Michael. We knew Charlie was going to die for a whole season and the show still nailed it with Not Penny’s Boat. Without our attachment to the characters, the show would have simply been a show with a bunch of crazy twists. I doubt it would have lasted 6 seasons.
There will never be another fandom experience like watching Lost as it aired. There was no bingeing the show. When the episode was over, you and thousands of others had to speculate for the next week, or weeks, or months, over what the hell you just watched.
In the first part of this article, I spoke a few times about fan’s expectations being too high and leaving them feeling betrayed at the end. But boy howdy was it a fun ride! The insane stuff that people would come up with during the show, theorizing wild backstories and hidden plots, was fun to watch week after week. Graphic illustrations, diagrams, timelines, maps, pretty much everything you could think of to document an experience was created to better understand what the heck was going on.
And another way people filled their time between episodes was to create some amazing Lost art. Never had I seen so much creativity exuded around a television show. It was undeniably a pop culture phenomenon not just on TV, but on posters and t-shirts and toys and just about anything else you could think of.
The believe the Lost fandom was an integral experience to enjoying the show as much as I did. You can rewatch the show. You can even try to replicate watching it once a week. But you can’t replicate the fanatic culture at the time and all the craziness that ensued.
A Moment in Time
Lost premiered in 2004. That was a significant year for me. I graduated high school and moved out to college. My life was changing in a multitude of ways. Relationships changed and ended. New ones began. My entire life was uprooted and evolving. Dare I say that I was… lost?
I love Lost because the six years it aired represents an irreplaceable chunk of my life: from the beginning of college to the end of grad school. These were some of the most defining years of my life.
When I think of Lost, I think of watching each episode on my laptop in my dorm room. I didn’t have TV so I had to download the episode through our peer-to-peer network. When I think of Lost, I think of watching the Season 1 finale with a group of strangers in my dorm, unified by our shared experience. I think of my nights playing Settlers of Catan and being just a little too upset the game went long and I missed the first 5 minutes of Lost. When Two for the Road aired, I stumbled around in shock for two days. “Who cares about the Civil War? Ana Lucia and Libby were murdered!”
A local movie theater hosted a viewing of the series finale. It was a packed house. The local news was shooting live footage from outside seconds after the episode completed. Some in the audience were immediately voicing their displeasure. “Come on!” they shouted at the screen. But that wasn’t me. I was crying.
I reflected on how much my life had changed in 6 years and how Lost was often a central focus throughout. A show I loved through the good and the bad was finally ending. And much like my life was undergoing immense change when it started, now too was my life about to change. I was finishing grad school and my future was up in the air. Where I had again found some semblance of stabilization, I was again about to be (cue eye rolling) lost.
Those expecting Lost to be a puzzle to construct were ultimately disappointed. Lost isn’t a puzzle, it’s a roller coaster. It has highs and lows. Sometimes you’re screaming with delight and other times you feel like you’re going to throw up. If you weren’t expecting whiplash, it’s understandable you wouldn’t like it. But I enjoyed the ride, even the parts that made my body hurt. I loved it and I’m always ready for another ride.
All images from LOST courtesy of ABC Studios.