The Leftovers - I don't understand the praise [Open Spoilers]

Based on the amazing mentions of The Leftovers in this thread I just finished watching all 3 seasons of The Leftovers over the past week.

I just need to say…what the fuck? I must be missing the magic. Why even bring Kevin’s mental breakdowns and death experiences into it? I can’t see that it furthered the story in any fucking way at all. Same thing with his crazy father. It seems like it could have been wrapped up nicely with a 3 part mini-series and left out all of the filler crap that had nothing to do with the story.

Help me out here, please. What am I missing?

Same thread made me start. You had much more perseverance than I.

The point I thought it was making was this: in a world where something completely irrational is clearly possible, how can you tell the difference between what is normal behaviour and what is crazy behaviour? So is Kevin really some kind of messiah or is he just a crazy person? Is there a hidden layer of meaning to “Perfect Strangers”? Maybe Nora really is a dimensional magnet for the Angel of Death? I thought that was an interesting topic to explore.

I also liked it because (a) I thought the acting was good (Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Christopher Eccleston) and (b) it was able to keep surprising me without going so far that I wanted to roll my eyes (YMMV, obviously).

Season 3 was incredibly uneven. Especially the final episode was very rushed. S1 and S2 were pretty good on their own, pretty big thematic change in between.

I always found that straightdope will bring out someone who hates anything you suggest, no matter what you say, Sopranos, too slow, didn’t like Walter in Breaking Bad, Star wars boring kids movie (me!). So any recommendation should be taken as a lot of people liked it. But you might not.

Now, the Leftovers, and why I loved it. I understand if you didn’t.

Season one was a meditation on griefs effects on a bunch of unlikeable people (main family). I say to people give it until the fourth episode before you reconsider, because mostly its people you don’t care about. Once the preacher gets one of his “bad days”, you can see it’s got event episodes which thrill. It’s also a great mystery, all the way through, but without it being shouted at you. Perhaps being left for the 10 weeks it showed made the questions and thoughts stew in your brain, and works less well on a binge watch. Because the main characters are mostly highly affected by the event, but not visibly, and each reveal at the end of the is striking and dramatic, and kind of makes you understand why they are all arseholes… Except Nora. For whom it is clear.

The overall mystery theme of Lost was there, without the meanderings and nonsense. Walt? Bunker? Pregnancies? It was a world of mystery, and had effects, such as what would happen if the supernatural was undeniable, and those who think it god (cults) , dimensions (spirituality) and how authorities react to them.

Freed of the shackles of the book, the second season just took those themes and ran with it. Nothing was predictable. It went all sorts of unexpected directions. Quite a few episodes ended with a total shock. The events leading up to International Assassin episode still stick with me to this day when considered, and is one of the best ending of an an episode ever.

And the third season. I must rewatch it sometimes. I didn’t find it patchy, I knew it was going to go all over the place and delivered on that.

The conclusion to me was perfect. We got an answer. But it was ambiguous if it was true. Up to you to intepret and believe her. A lot of things were left unexplained (never dying?) and I felt happy with that. Let the mystery be.

If you didn’t like it. Fair enough. But I bet you remember a few episodes of it.

When the show first aired, I also thought the show was basically about how people grieve and how they handle death. The two percent who disappeared in that event are equivalent to the percentage of people who die in some period (a week, a month, whatever). But those deaths happen at various times and for various reasons, most of which are not mysterious. In the show, Nora’s husband and two children vanished in the event, but they could have all died in a car accident or whatever. And Laurie’s fetus vanished from her womb, but she could have suffered a miscarriage.

At the same time, the event (a random two percent of the world’s population disappears at the exact same instant) was so crazy, mysterious and unexplainable that it caused something of a societal breakdown. Some people turned to traditional religions, others turned to newly formed cults. Some people went slightly nuts.

The show was created by Damon Lindelof (based on a Tom Perrotta novel), who previously created Lost and he made what I think was the right decision here, which was never to try to explain what happened or how it happened.

It seems the answer really is as simple as different people enjoy different things, and that’s ok. I simply wanted to make sure some bigger meaning or profound message hadn’t been lost on me.

I just don’t think I enjoy shows that having me almost constantly saying “What the fuck is going on?” and not providing answers. As I said, we just enjoy different things. No harm, no foul.

And to Dewey’s point, I can accept that they never explained what caused people to depart. It is the WTFs in the story of the characters I have a hard time not having explained in any way. To me, the departure was just a setting for the rest of the story, but the rest of the story made no sense to me.

Well said. The Leftovers is one of my favorite shows of all time and has stuck with me quite a bit since I watched it. I loved Season 1 (which was very divisive) but then Season 2 I found to be even more incredible. I loved how they leaned into the effects of the Departure and how it affected even more of the world and added a lot more humor (Season 1 was pretty serious). International Assassin may be my #1 episode of a TV show (perhaps tied with Ozymandias from Breaking Bad). I enjoyed Season 3 as well, though I can see where it may be slightly uneven. But the episodes of Matt on the boat and the finale were just done perfectly.

A lot of shows don’t really deal with grief and faith much (Rectify is the only other recent show that comes to mind). I thought The Leftovers did so very well, with the background of the Departure providing a good canvas to explore those ideals.

I like this description from the AV Club’s Top 100 Shows of the 2010s (they listed The Leftovers as #7 show of the decade):

And the acting was brilliant.

I loved it.

If you didn’t like it, you were watching it wrong.

It didn’t ultimately make a whole lot of sense to me, but I still think about it regularly, so it had a deep impact. Don’t look for answers, just let the dramatic, emotional weirdness wash over you. One of my favorite shows from this new golden age of television. And it’s only three short seasons, so not as much of a time investment as something like The Sopranos.

That’s a bit harsh, I loved it but I can see how it wouldn’t be for everyone.

I was just making a joke.

Read it again in Sheldon’s voice. (BBT)

Yeah, me too. I kept hearing what a wonderful job they did tying things up so I was kinda shocked at the end. 28 odd hours of unlikable characters, casual animal cruelty and crappy music all for…that explanation? And according the the show creators we can’t aren’t even supposed to be sure that story is true.

[spoiler]I don’t know how this guy even kept his job, running through crowds shoving people and yelling at them to get the fuck out of his way? What kind of cop is this?

Just about everyone became more unlikable as the show went on. By the second to last episode when Laurie and Kevin were laughing and bonding over the time he neglected Jill’s pet hamster and let it starve to death I was rooting for a horrible death for all of them.

Also, what was the deal with the cave scene that opened season 2?[/spoiler]

I really like a good sci-fi/supernatural mystery and I am sick of it being used as a McGuffin. You can have character development and teach us all about love and loss or whatever and…still give us a good, well developed mystery. These days everyone seems to think it’s more “sophisticated” to just leave viewers hanging. I have pretty much given up on the genre and only watched this because I heard it didn’t do that.

Not too many shows did it well. Fringe was pretty good and while it’s not quite the same genre Counterpart in its too-short run managed to give us a good story with some satisfying explanations. X-files at least had some great Monster of the Week episodes even though it is the poster child for sloppiness and unrealized potential.

I watched all three seasons. I loved it. Then hated it. then loved it. then hated it. I loved it. Then hated it. then loved it. then hated it. I loved it. Then hated it. then loved it. then hated it. I loved it. Then hated it. then loved it. then hated it.

Carrie Coon (Nora) kept me watching, mostly.

Great show. While we’re giving shout outs, there were also great performances by Regina King, Scott Glenn, Ann Dowd and Amy Brenneman.

The music, as is the case with many HBO shows, was quite compelling at times.

sorry to bump this, but I binge-watched this last week based on the other thread. I’d have to say “meh” about it.

It was entertaining at times, but not anything I would consider “good TV” more like “here’s something to watch once you run out of other stuff to watch that is better”

The GR people smoking just annoyed the hell out of me. Sure, they smoke, okay. But they smoke during times were it’s stupid to smoke, like carrying boxes or unloading vans or whatever.

Most of the show didn’t make any sense. “Meh” is the best I can give it.

I think the chain smoking was to indicate that they didn’t care whether they lived or died.

Sure, but smoking while carrying stuff in both hands is annoying. I’m surprised the woman that got stoned to death wasn’t smoking while getting hit in the face with rocks.