Post-Lost TV: How Lost Ruined Television (Kinda)

Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn

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We lost Lost. 10 years after its first American airing we are still obsessed with the countless unanswered questions which were posed during its six-year run. We still don’t quite understand what the fuck the smoke monster was, and nor do we quite get what was so special about Walt. But we love theorising anyway. That is a part of Lost’s legacy.

As is the fact that it ruined television. An undeniable fact is that some elements of Lost’s legacy don’t really amount to much at all. It was a show plagued with problems whilst it aired and unfortunately those problems have only continued since its finale in 2010.

The true testament of a television show is its cult impact and Lost still has a massively vocal fan base. So clearly it made an impact. But some of its problems outshine the positivity the show garnered. We take a look at just some of these problems in the list below. It’s by no means an exhaustive list.

None of its cast went onto star in anything decent 

Considering some of Lost’s large cast are exceptionally brilliant in the world of acting, not many of them have gone onto bigger and better things.

Evangeline Lilly stars as Tauriel in The Hobbit series of films and has a starring role in the upcoming Ant-Man Marvel adaption. Michael Emerson has starred in Person of Interest since 2011. Ian Somerhalder has portrayed the brooding Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries since its inception in 2009. Michelle Rodrigues, meanwhile, has continued to forge a compelling movie career – starring in Avatar, Machete and the Fast & Furious films. Considering 34 actors received starring billing at some point in Lost’s run, this isn’t all that impressive in the long run.

A lot of them have gone onto other things, but most of them aren’t bigger or better. After taking on the central role in Lost, Matthew Fox has appeared in only four movies, none of which you’ll particularly remember. Josh Holloway has recently taken on a role in Intelligence, but with appalling ratings it’ll likely be canned shortly anyway. Dominic Monaghan thinks he’s the new Bear Grylls; Henry Ian Cusick only really has a handful of guest appearances under his belt (aside from his role in The 100, which potentially could become a hit); Elizabeth Mitchell starred in V and Revolution, both of which were dropped after two seasons; Malcolm David Kelley produces dire music as part of MKTO; and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje still thinks he’s too good for Lost.

We expected much better things from the cast of Lost.

Everything is touted as ‘the new Lost

Everything is compared with the phenomenon that was Lost. The hype becomes so much that everything fails to compare to the viewers expectations.

ABC’s Flashforward, which aired between 2009 and 2010, was named as a show which would help viewers who were suffering from Lost withdrawals. It featured an ensemble cast, a million unanswered questions, Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger from Lost itself, and some truly mind boggling cliffhangers.

Flashforward was, in itself, a brilliant season of TV. But it only lasted for one season, because of the hype that had been generated around it. It was named the new Lost, so inevitably viewers flocked to it because of such an assessment. When it was realised it was nothing like Lost (in terms of story), the viewers fled, and unfortunately it was dropped like a fly.

NBC’s The Event met a similar fate (but that one is understandable – The Event was shit), as did Alcatraz (which likewise flashed between time lines, but ultimately failed to amount to much) and Invasion, which aired on ABC a year after Lost began. The comparisons were massive, but after an impressive start, the extra-terrestrial storyline stalled somewhat, and by the time it eventually got good again the masses had flocked. That one had real potential, but like the rest of the shows named here, the hype was too much to justify the comparison.

Its polarising ending will always be compared

There is no denying the polarising effect that ‘The End’, the final episode of Lost, had upon its viewers. Some loved it, others loathed it. We happen to think it had both good and bad elements, like most finales.

Like The Sopranos before it, Lost’s finale always gets brought up when a show ends these days. ‘Oh, it’s not as bad as Lost. Nothing is as bad as the ending of Lost’ (or something to that effect) is said EVERY time a show ends. The recent final episode of True Blood received a polarising reception also, but it was still compared to that of Lost.

We suppose it could be seen as a good thing that the finale of Lost is remembered over four years after its airing, but like a lot of things on this list it created a lot of unjustifiable comparisons.

There are no connections between Lost and True Blood (other than the large cast, really) but they are compared anyway. Surely the finale of Lost should only be compared with finales of likewise television shows – drama rather than supernatural?

Everything any of the writers and producers are involved in stars a Lost alumni

We accept that Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, JJ Abrams, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (amongst others) will move onto new television shows. What we refuse to accept is that the alumni of Lost must follow them.

Fringe, produced by, written and created by JJ, starred Lance Reddick, Henry Ian Cusick and Rebecca Mader. Person of Interest stars Michael Emerson. Alcatraz starred Hurley himself, Jorge Garcia. Revolution welcomed Elizabeth Mitchell to the fold.

Kitsis and Horowitz’s Once Upon a Time is terrible for this. Littered with allusions to Lost, it stars Emilie de Ravin, Alan Dale, Rebecca Mader, Jorge Garcia and Elizabeth Mitchell, whilst its spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland starred Naveen Andrews and Zuleikha Robinson.

We get that they’re all friends and everything, but must the writers continue to create roles just so that the cast of Lost continue to have some form of income? It’s tiresome, but likely won’t stop anytime soon.

Everything poses a multitude of questions nowadays

Lost is perhaps most famous for the mind-boggling questions it posed on a weekly basis. Most of them received satisfying answers, some received unsatisfying answers, and some received no answers at all. Who was shooting at the outrigger? Who knows? (Well, spoilers, but the first draft of the script apparently had Ben Linus shooting at them – the outrigger had seemingly travelled through time, along with the island… Yeah, we don’t quite get it either.)

This is a format other shows have adopted – in particular shows created by those involved in Lost. Damon Lindelof’s HBO fantasy drama The Leftovers is essentially a carbon copy of Lost – the Guilty Remnants are the Others, the 2% which vanished are the victims of Flight 815, the rabid dogs in the woods serve as the smoke monster. All of these generate questions, and most of them will probably be left unresolved. Lindelof is famous for this – just look at his Alien prequel Prometheus.

Likewise shows which shouldn’t pose questions do. What caused the zombie outbreak on The Walking Dead shouldn’t matter, but it does. We want to know, but we likely never will. Doctor Who nowadays under The Moff’s tenure poses several questions a week, all of which lead up to a lacklustre conclusion as Steven Moffat fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion.

This is the legacy of Lost – and how it ruined TV.

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