Lost and Found
One Wednesday night sometime last fall, I discovered a new show simply called “Lost.” And for the first time in a long time, I was hooked.
The program did not rekindle a Party of Five fetish—although, for the record, I would rather be stranded on the island with Jennifer Love Hewitt than Matthew Fox. Nor am I so enamored with the physical form of Kate that I suffer withdrawal if I don’t get my weekly cleavage-cam of the island’s most eligible bachelorette—although for the record, I would rather be stranded on the island with Evangeline Lilly than Matthew Fox.
Actually, I would rather be stranded on an island with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Evangeline Lilly than writing this right now.
End daydream. And … we’re back.
No, something rare draws me to “Lost,” something a show has not done in years. Quite simply, it challenges the viewer. It makes you THINK.
The success of the show, frankly, has shocked me.
After all, insultingly undemanding programs have dumbed us down to the point that we do not expect our multimedia entertainment to spur us to discuss. To ponder. To question. To think.
Take, for example, “Friends.” Millions enjoyed it; it was feel-good TV—if shallow, vain, two-dimensional creatures make you happy.
“Lost” strikes me as different. Despite some trite moments, the writers seem to care about the thinking audience. They put clues in strange places: Hurley’s reappearing Lotto numbers, for example. They let the characters evolve and devolve: witness Jack’s developing leadership and Sawyer’s one-step-forward, two-steps-back “growth.”
And best of all? The Question.
It has been on everyone’s brain since the crash, and It remains stuck there like a dryer sheet to a sock: What IS this island?
I have heard some theories—each of them intriguing. The island is purgatory. The island is Jack’s bad dream. The island is a government experiment. Interesting answers, all. Each makes you actually THINK, and each makes you discuss possibilities with friends, family, coworkers, or even convenient nearby pets. But each of these suppositions are, in turn, wrong, wrong, and wrong.
The way I see it, the island is the American television viewers’ collective brain—the creators, cast, and crew of “Lost” have crashed smack-ass in the middle of it. And all the demons, all the ghosts, and all the illusions of the island are simply the monsters left over in our heads from the crap we have subjected ourselves to for decades.
It is working. “Lost” has switched our minds on, and we are all the better for it.
Which is why I will carry the burden, why I will make the sacrifice, why I will volunteer to star in the spinoff:
“Lost II: Stranded with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Evangeline Lilly.”