Lost is nearing the conclusion of its sixth and final season and millions of fans across the country and around the world are tuning in each week with bated breath to watch the series’ final episodes. Soon enough their favorite show will be no more and they will have to console themselves with endless debate on web forums about minutiae that the rest of the world has long forgotten.
But what about you, the Lost neophyte? You’ve probably heard it discussed at the water cooler, and you’ve encountered an obsessed fan or two at cocktail parties, but you never really bothered to tune in. The end of the series offers you the unique opportunity to pick up the series on DVD and watch it at your discretion without the commercial or season breaks that so frustrated the loyal fan base.
But is it worth it? The show is six freaking seasons long! It’s a 91 hour commitment! Is any television show worth 91 hours of your time?
Before the series finale we can’t know for sure, but as it stands now I give you my Top Ten Reasons You Should Give Lost a Chance:
10. The first season was a game changer.
The very first seconds of the first episode of Lost dropped you onto an island immediately following a plane crash. No time was spent on exposition. The viewer and the characters were left to figure out together what the hell was going on. And every following episode only deepened the mystery. By the closing moments of the first episode the audience was left asking themselves: is this a survival story? Is this a paranormal mystery? Who knows? But millions were ready to take the ride.
It was the first time was audiences were trusted to be comfortable with uncertainty- there are no neat wrap ups in any episodes of the first season of Lost. And it just keeps you wanting more. Many a show since has attempted to capture this same feeling, to varying degrees of success. Why not watch the one that started it all?
9. The writers are smart, and they realize the viewing audience is too.
John Locke, C. S. Lewis, James Joyce, Jeremy Bentham, Lewis Carroll, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Stephen Hawking, Homer, John Steinbeck, Sigmund Freud. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick, Animal Farm, Watership Down, The Fountainhead, Star Wars, Heart of Darkness, The Little Prince, Harry Potter, Slaughterhouse Five.
These are just a short list of the dozens of literary, philosophical and pop-culture references littered throughout the show. This is what keeps the die hards locked to their forums for hours after each episode airs. Do you need to know them all to enjoy the story? Absolutely not. But if you recognize one or two it adds an exciting dimension to the characters and plots. If you’re like me and want a field guide, Doc Jenson over at EW does a weekly roundup of the episodes’ illusions and what they might mean for the plot as a whole.
8. Eye Candy abounds.
Beautiful people in beautiful locales? Yes please! Here are just a few examples of the pleasures that await you:
7. There is action.
The main characters include an escaped convict, a gangster, a former Iraqi Republican Guard, a con man, and a wannabe Bear Grylls. It is the story of over 40 plane crash survivors trying to live on an inhospitable island and learning to share their limited resources. Obviously, there is going to be some ass-kicking involved.
6. There is romance.
True love, doomed love, learning to love again, and love triangles abound on this show. Some of it leaves you smiling for days and some of it will damn near break your heart.
5. There is mystery.
Unless you’ve been a hermit for the last six years you’ve probably heard that there is something weird happening on that island. But sometimes the most compelling mystery of all is trying to understand the motivations of the characters. It is not giving away too much to say that the first season of Lost follows a pattern of on-island action interspersed with flashbacks to the characters former lives. Each episode focuses on a single character’s past, and part of the fun is discovering in bits and pieces why these people act the way they do.
4. There are a lot of laughs.
Which is not to say that Lost is deadly serious all the time. Even the most stoic characters have their moments, and as the show develops a few characters emerge as… well, ‘comic relief’ seems too strong a term since every character is three dimensional, but they are certainly characters with a well developed sense of humor.
3. Everything is a gray area.
No easy answers on this island. There will be characters you hate, then love, then they make you feel ill, and then you want them to adopt you, and then they scare the shit out of you, then you want to cuddle them and then you’re imaging awesome sitcoms you would watch for the rest of your days starring just that character. No person is good or evil, they are all just looking for a little bit of redemption.
2. The characters are worth the investment.
I can hear your thoughts. I’m talented like that. You are reading this, nodding your head, a snide smile on your face. “All well and good,” you are thinking, “but worth 91 hours of my life? No plot line is worth 91 hours of my life.” And you are right. But getting to know really incredible characters totally is.
These characters are not stock figures. They aren’t plot devices. The writers of this show know how to flesh out a character and the acting is excellent. No character follows a set path. These characters make decisions that will defy all reason and logic, for no other reason than that is what the character, as written, would do. There aren’t a lot of television shows out there, or hell, even very many mainstream films that keep the characters true to themselves throughout. Writers will usually fudge a decision or two simply because it is necessary to move the plot forward. Not on Lost. And by season six, you feel like you know these people: their strengths, their weaknesses, and all they have gone through to get to where they are. Watching their stories conclude is truly compelling. Which brings us to our number one reason you should watch Lost….
1. There will be an ending.
We’ve all experienced it. You give a show your time, your energy, your patience and your devotion, only to have the network cancel it due to low ratings. If you are lucky you get a hastily thrown together wrap-up episode that can’t possibly give you the satisfaction you crave (or maybe you get something like Serenity that rewrites the mythos of the show you loved in order to give everything a tidy, neat feeling). If you aren’t lucky the show just disappears without any closure at all (Life on Mars (American Version), Defying Gravity, and Jericho are three Lost inspired shows that suffered this fate. Just ask my Dad, he’ll tell you all about it).
But the producers of Lost took a different route. When their show was losing its way and fans were abandoning it in frustration they struck a deal with ABC. They got a guarantee of three more shortened seasons, and in return promised to give the fans an ending they deserved. They can answer lingering questions, explore the mythology, and even revisit some of the most reviled moments in the series and create a sense of purpose to it all. Will it all come together? I don’t know. But I am here to tell you the journey is well worth taking.
And now, since this has been stuck in my head throughout the composition of this article, I leave you with a piece of marketing magic from 2005: