On rewatching Lost

I’ve been rewatching Lost, the show that obsessed us all until it didn’t, and one of several television series that have suffered because their many fans rejected a ‘terrible’ ending.

It’s really very strange, if you think about it, that over 80 hours of television can be consigned to the dustbin of history just because some people weren’t happy with its final 80 minutes.

Of course, the big picture of Lost is a little more complicated than ‘people didn’t like the ending’ but the finale is still the thing that people mention whenever they discuss it, as they will do until the end of time with Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones.

Well, I just watched the ending of Lost, and it seemed okay to me. I mean, you have mixed feelings when a beloved television show ends, but they’re driven by all kinds of elements. I think the difference between watching it over a few months and watching it over six years is important. I think after six years, people were already losing patience with it. The last two seasons introduced a bunch of new characters and seemed to have run out of ideas as to what to do with the original main cast. It’s almost certainly not a coincidence that the writers’ strike which shortened the well-received 4th season seemed to derail it subsequently.

And there are parts of Lost which have not aged well. Some of the actors, who were fairly fresh faces to us at the beginning, now have a problematic public image. Mentioning no names. I don’t think being in Lost proved to be much help to many of the casts’ careers. Daniel Dae Kim, Evangeline Lily and Josh Holloway have been the most prominent, I think.

And the thing that was starkly obvious in the finale was the fact that the show created so many (fictional) couples – all of them heterosexual. It seems impossible to imagine, now, that a series as high profile as this wouldn’t feature a single LGBTQ+ character. I mean, what are the chances? All killed in the original plane crash I suppose.

If people were hate-watching by Season 6, it was probably because the two ends of the show didn’t really fit together. The ‘flash sideways’ and the retconning of the island’s history and the mysterious grotto just didn’t mesh with all the earlier stuff. But as long as you don’t try too hard to make the pieces fit, you could just let the show throw its ideas at you and enjoy it for what it was: a machine for generating ideas and situations that was astonishing in its (heterosexual) scope.

Maybe you’ve forgotten just how exciting Lost was when it first appeared, and how it maintained a high level of suspense and engagement. A dip in Season 3, a strong return in Season 4, and – even if they don’t quite work – fifth and sixth seasons that continued to explode with creative ideas and twists.

I’d recommend this to anyone who has only watched it once and allowed that disappointing ending to colour their opinion; and certainly to anyone who hasn’t seen it, and has perhaps been put off by the grumbling. At the moment, it’s on Amazon Prime and Disney+ in the UK.

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