What do the producers of LOST owe us?

20May10

There’s a really interesting essay on Gawker grappling with the question of what, if anything, the people behind LOST owe us, the viewers, as the show comes to a (by all accounts, shitty) close.

The two sides are:

  • They owe us a lot, because they promised us a lot, stacking MacGuffin on top MacGuffin (really skillfully) for years.
  • They don’t owe us jack, because they’re artists doing things their way, so suck it up and deal, whiners.

I’m in the middle. I actually quit watching LOST halfway through season 5 because it was blatantly clear to me that a) there was no way they were going to make good on all those promises and b) they sure as shit weren’t being “artistic” about it, a la David Chase–they were just being hacks.

So neither “side” of this little debate holds water for me. Hacks certainly don’t owe their audiences anything and neither should we expect them to; they’re just there to get the job done (in LOST‘s case, tie things off somehow, even if it’s just a big cop-out). Can you be angry at hacks for letting you down? Not really.

But LOST was never about “art” either–at its best, it was amazing popcorn entertainment–so let’s all stop short of defending the half-assed ending we all know is coming as the culmination of some sort of master plan or “statement.” “The Sopranos” this ain’t.

So why the bitterness? Well, you get upset when you feel duped. The hackwork on this last season makes me feel like they were charlatans all along, dining out on our misplaced good faith. Of course that’s a bit irrational, since you can’t make TV as good as LOST was for the first 4 seasons by being a complete fraud. But it feels that way anyway.

Maybe the real reason for feeling duped–and consequently angry–is that the producers of LOST convinced us that they gave a shit when, as it turns out in the end, they kind of don’t. Obviously I don’t know any of them personally and I know everyone on that show must work really hard. But the result really, really appears like no one really cares about all the things they encouraged us to care about, seemingly together.

It’s like that cliched breakup scene between two lovers where one of them says, “But I thought you were different! I thought we were different!” And the other one’s just like, “Yeah well, I guess not,” spits on the sidewalk and walks away without looking back.

Who wouldn’t be upset and angry at that?



3 Responses to “What do the producers of LOST owe us?”

  1. 1 Filibustero

    “Lost” lost me midway through Season 3. I admire your tenacity at following through this far. But the Macguffin-o-rama just started to smell for me so far before that.

  2. I dunno. Terry Gilliam disappoints all the time and I’m pretty sure he cares.

    Is this an inadvertent metaphor for Obama’s presidency? Perhaps. Or perhaps I spent too much of my morning on political blogs.

  3. 3 Me

    Sure, but when Terry Gilliam disappoints it sure as shit isn’t because he isn’t trying hard enough. That’s the difference with LOST. They proved that they were capable of exceeding expectations, and then just chose to phone it in at the end.



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