Few TV shows are as binge-worthy as Lost, the ABC drama that inspired a huge cult following. Despite a controversial series finale, it’s highly rewatchable, and those who have never seen it can experience the craziness for the first time from start to finish. Here’s why we think you should.
What’s the premise? When a commercial flight from Sydney to Los Angeles crashes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a number of its passengers are stranded on what they believe is a deserted island. As the survivors band together, they discover that the island is no ordinary place, and that their arrival may not have been an accident.
What’s it like? It’s a heavily serialized ensemble drama set on an exotic island with a significant dose of supernatural mythology thrown in. The best comparison we can offer is that it’s a bit like an effective marriage of the reality show Survivor with Twin Peaks or The X-Files.
How long will it take? Lost ran for 121 episodes spread across six seasons, with each episode coming in at an average of 43 minutes. If you take into consideration the extra time you’ll likely need to process some of the show’s wonkier mysteries and mind-boggling plotlines, though, we’d say you might want to give yourself a few months to chew through it all, even if you’re consuming a few episodes a night.
What do the critics think? Though only a handful of reviews are available for Lost from season to season, its Tomatometer has never dipped below 75 percent. While most critics readily conceded the show was often baffling, they were also quite content to ride out the series to its inevitable conclusion. Kelly West of CinemaBlend perhaps summed it up best when she wrote, “It’s the characters in the show and their stories that make the series worth watching, especially for those of us who sometimes feel a bit lost when we’re watching Lost.”
Why should I watch this? Lost has got to be the ultimate WTF TV show. No show is more twisty and addictive. Water-cooler chatter the day after a new episode aired revolved around many of the show’s bizarre plot devices: “Did you see that polar bear?” “Ooh, we got a glimpse of the smoke monster!” “How are they travelling through time?” The mysteries just kept coming, and most hoped for a brilliant payoff in the end. Fan opinion on the series finale is mixed, and while some felt they were just taken for a ride, we say it’s just a lot of crazy, mysterious fun. Thanks to extensive backstory episodes, the characters developed over time into people we felt we knew, and we wanted to experience their weekly journeys with them, as maddening as they sometimes could be. And how can you not want to watch the one show that caused the president of the United States to postpone the State of the Union speech? He just couldn’t compete with Lost.
What’s my next step? Fans of Lost and other WTF TV shows can currently check out The Leftovers on HBO, from Lost creator/writer Damon Lindelof. Executive producer J.J. Abrams also produced shows like Fringe, Almost Human, and the similarly structured Revolution, while his Person of Interest will be entering its fourth season this Fall. As mentioned, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is a good watch if you’re looking for a baffling serialized mystery, but his films also specialize in the weird and surreal. Other series like Battlestar Galactica and Carnivale, while dissimilar in setting, also play with some heady themes, and most recently, HBO’s True Detective managed to spawn the same kind of feverish plot speculation that drove Lost‘s fanbase. Lastly, ABC’s short-lived series FlashForward was widely considered to be Lost‘s spiritual successor, but it was cancelled after a single season (one that ended in an unresolved cliffhanger, no less).
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