Saturday, May 22, 2010

Did Lost Make TV Worse?

While watching the second to last episode of Lost, a good friend of mine proclaimed "I'm only glad it's over," adding that she is only watching the last few episodes for the sake of conclusion. Meanwhile, her statements have been echoed in the media:

At long last: Lost comes to a close on Sunday and we’ll no longer have to listen to its fans obsess over its silly mysteries. Writing for The New York Times, Mike Hale says the show inspired “a kind of populist biblical commentary, and the logical gymnastics performed to read authorial intention into every word and image and in-joke began to feel religious in nature.” He goes on to groan that the show “has encouraged fans, and critics who should know better, to celebrate the mythology—the least important element of the show, from a dramatic standpoint—while glossing over things like pacing, structure, camerawork and acting … Among the best evidence that something new is happening with Lost is the fact that so many people, if their online comments are true, will be willing to change their judgment of the entire series based solely on how well the final two-and-a-half-hour episode satisfies their need for answers. Forget the first 119 hours—if you don’t tell me what happened to Walt, none of it will have mattered.”

Lost was the first show to break from a half decade slump into the decadence of reality television. If it weren't for Lost, we wouldn't have been presented with even more shows that complement, instead of insult, the intelligence of its viewers, such as Heroes or V. I for one don't quite know what I'm going to do without Lost. V is good, but lacks the same originality and compelling characters.

The very fact that ABC put enough faith into the idea that a show as complex and requiring of commitment as Lost reflects that somebody in the corporation suspended the assumption that TV viewers are both stupid and suffering from attention deficit disorder. Complaints that Lost was too long, theological (I'm not religious, but with the other choices on TV, any form of intellectualism is a positive!) or mythological fail to appreciate the immense progress that Lost brought to television.

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