BY CJ SMITH
“The Leftovers” is a new HBO series that recently concluded its debut season. Based on, and adapted by the novel of the same name written by Tom Perrotta and created for the screen by the creator of “Lost,” Damon Lindelof, “The Leftovers” spins a bleak tale of loss, grief, and coping with life when it provides no answers.
The show’s inciting incident is the inexplicable disappearance of two percent of the world’s population, approximately 140 million people, on a regular day just like any other. The two pinnacles of human understanding, religion and science, are offering no explanations to this mass “departure,” though it is widely believed to have been brought about by some “rapture-like” event.
The show is focused in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York and it is here the show provides a closer glimpse of how this occurrence is affecting the individuals and families in distinct and real ways. Families have been torn apart, cults and sects are forming and rising, all in the name of providing people with an outlet for their grief and hopefully, answers. “The Leftovers” is well written, casted, and has an amazing music score that is used throughout the first season to enhance the bleakness and macabre sense of what the characters are dealing with.
As I began watching this show which focuses on the “end-of-days” scenarios most people have played out in their heads, I began to draw some parallels to what we unfortunately see on a daily basis in our own present, human condition. The first parallel is drawn from the character, Reverend Matt Jamison, whose major contention against the event being called the “rapture,” is that many of the people who have “departed” led lives one would not automatically equate with going to heaven. The fact that these judgments still persist in a very real and tangible way, should give viewers pause that may assume to know what it takes to go to a better place after they die. The Reverend’s sister, Nora Durst, has lost her husband and two children in the event and is struggling through the aftermath while employing a myriad of coping mechanisms to try and numb the pain. Her journey is another reminder of the hurting people scraping through their feelings of loss in the real world, while plastering on a brave face to trick everyone around them.
The bleakness of life, brought on by grief and loss is so pervasive and persistent in our modern culture. This show, using a “doomsday scenario” brings these issues to the forefront and outlines how they affect us all, either as victims or onlookers. In this first season, many of these societal questions are raised, which hopefully draw us as viewers to examine some of these issues in our own lives; and more importantly to take full advantage of the time we have with those we love - and perhaps have not yet learned how to - before it is too late.