This article is spoiler-free!
Sunday night capped off the Season 2 of HBO’s The Leftovers. I read critical praise that is consistent with the rest of this season, but also disheartening news. In an interview with Variety, Damon Lindelof (Showrunner, Lost) voiced that he is unsure the show will be given a third season. The Hollywood Reporter also shared that the second season averaged only 0.67 million viewers every week. Since I’m unapologetically in love with the show, I have to ask why?
Maybe you've heard of The Leftovers, but you're not sure what it is. Maybe you don't subscribe to HBO. Maybe you checked out during the first season because it was so depressing and seemed to be going nowhere. Regardless of your reasoning, I'm here to rally television fans everywhere to get behind this incredible show.
For those of you who don't know what the show is, The Leftovers is based on a novel written by Tom Perrotta. Damon Lindelof teamed up with Perrotta to produce a version for television after Stephen King praised the book in the New York Times.
The Garvey's at Their Worst
The series follows the family of Kevin Garvey, chief of police in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York, and his family. It begins three years after the Sudden Departure - an inexplicable even that cause 2% of the world's population to vanish and never be seen again. Our main characters are the ones left on Earth to deal with this tragedy. Do we ever find out what the Sudden Departure is? No. Are we ever promised? No, we are not. Do we need to find out? No.
The great thing about the show is that we don't spend any time with the people who have departed. It's not about the what or the why of the incident. Lindelof has stated many times in interviews that the show's mysterious event will never be explained, just like in the book. We're only left to care for our characters, their grief, and the phenomenal world-building this show has generated in 20 episodes.
Having a Lost flashback? I'd be jealous of you if you were, but not everyone takes kindly to the way that show ended. Don't let the term 'world-building' fool you. There is no greater mythology to worry about. We're in a world that asks why certain people were taken, what it might mean about our existence, and how someone is supposed to live with their loved one being taken without mentally snapping. There is a Department of Sudden Departure that grants money to compensate for the loss of loved ones. There are evangelists that claim they can heal people with their touch. There is the Guilty Remnant.
The Guilty Remnant
What kind of villain could you have in a world that wants to forget? How about a cult who functions as a living reminder for everyone who was lost? The Guilty Remnant take an oath of silence, wear only white, and chain-smoke cigarettes. They may not look threatening, but they are some of the most interesting and vile people I've ever seen on TV.
Why Season 2 Is Better
I mentioned that some people might have checked out during the first season. It's very much a character study of what it must feel like to live in this type of world. It's depressing, there are certain episodes that follow characters we don't care much about, and it's just different than anything else we're used to. Not since Breaking Bad has a show challenged television like this one. I still adore season 1 and it's absolutely worth the journey, but it was bound by its source material.
Season 2 lets the show breathe. It takes an approach similar to The Wire and feels like an entirely different show while still featuring our main characters. We're introduced to a brand new setting, a brand new family, and even greater mysticism and stakes.
How You Can Watch
The Leftovers airs on Sunday nights on HBO. I get it. You're probably too busy watching The Walking Dead. But since certain shows are about to go on holiday hiatus, you're gonna need something to watch. HBO is more accessible now than ever. HBO Now is available on nearly every device excluding game consoles. You can start a 30-day free trial and easily finish both seasons. The first season is also available on Blu-ray and DVD.
The story is gripping, the acting is better than any show out now, and it's the most realistic show I've seen deal with something supernatural. I'd love to see this show get a surge of new fans. It's been a long time since I've felt pain waiting week to week for the next episode. So let me be your living reminder to give this show a chance and maybe tweet at HBO that you want it to return!