Tag Archives: Television

The Leftovers

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By Christopher Schmaltz (7-16-14)

“What’s the point?” This is the question everyone asks themselves one way or another in their lives after a profound loss or unexpected tragedy or trauma. It is the distinctly human question that has essentially driven the course of our history, writ large from individual and collective moments of pain, doubt and fear. That question is at the core of the new HBO show “The Leftovers” HBO The Leftovers, and it is the essential question of our time.

3 episodes of the show have aired1 to date. A quick intro summary – on October 14 (no year is given, but it is essentially now), 2% of the world’s population instantaneously disappears. That is approximately 140 million people. The people who disappear run the gamut from infants, 34 yr. old persons with Down syndrome, former popes, to Shaq. The show picks up 3 years after that event, and is an examination of its impact on those who remain, focusing on a group of people in a small American town.

Without question, it is a dark, oppressive show. Watching a single episode weighs heavily and lingers. I had to laugh a bit when discussing the show with my wife, because as entertaining as I find the show (we’ll discuss what I mean by “entertaining”), it is a show that is not “feel good” in any sense of that phrase. If one engages in it, it puts the viewer to the question, and it’s tough. I don’t think my wife will be watching, not because of any desire to avoid the tough questions, as she is one of the strongest people I know, but because, to paraphrase her, what time she has to watch tv, she doesn’t want that time to be a painful chore – Life is hard enough, and filled with enough negativity as it is, to spend time watching a depressing show.   I am entertained by the show however, precisely because its ambition is to explore the larger questions, and by that exploration, examine where we are as humans, and what we have yet to be. And also because it asks, from one character, “I can understand a former pope, but Gary f*cking Busey?”

1 An anachronistic term when referring to a cable television channel like HBO.

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