A Few Questions about HBO’s The Leftovers

the leftovers, HBO, Q&A

I bet you have questions about the lovely HBO series The Leftovers. Here are the answers.

What’s this about? On a seemingly random October day, 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappears without a trace in what will be known throughout the show as “The Departure.” The series then follow the lives of a family and several people in a small town in New York as they cope with the disappearance of their loved ones and try to move on with their lives.

Where can I (legally) watch? All 10 episodes of season one are available on HBO GO.

How far behind am I? The debut season just wrapped up in September. HBO has renewed the series for a 2nd season that is set to resume next year.

This shit based off a book or comic? Based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Tom Perotta. Damon Lindelof (co-writer: TV series Lost, Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and the book’s author adapted the source material for TV. The book only covers the events of season one. All episodes going forward will contain new material.

2% of the world disappeared? Roughly equals to 140+ million people chosen at random that poofed into thin air.

The US accounts for 4.43% of the global population and 2% of the world vanished. Seems like overall low numbers, but a high amount of disappearances for some small town located in nowhere, New York. Is this even a question?

So, random vanishes? The show explains what happened right? The debut season tries to establish the main characters in the series. Much like zombies in The Walking Dead, the events that have lead up to now serve more as a backdrop to the daily struggles of the people involved. Almost immediately we are told that science has no explanation (some time has passed since The Departure) and we should all go back to our normal loser lives.

This is gonna get religious isn’t it? One of the main characters that we follow is involved with a group known as “The Guilty Remnant.” They dress in all white, smoke a shit ton of cigarettes, and don’t speak to anyone. The Guilty Remnant appears to be a religious group, but not too much known about them since their members are doing their best Johnny Tightlips impression. There are some Christianity themes as one of the characters we get to know is a pastor trying to make sense of Gods plan.

the leftovers, HBO, Q&A
“I need to poop. Where can I deposit the pad thai noodles I ate this afternoon?”

Isn’t this clearly heaven and we witnessed the rapture? There is a funny comment about some celebrities that were taken in The Departure, but they spend some time dismissing the notion that only holy people/believers/Christians made the cut.

How dark does this show get? At times, pretty fucking dark. TV in general has set a weird precedent for itself. The top 15 grossing movies of 2014 feature TWO buddy-cop movies, but the most popular shows on television continually feature anti-heroes, addictions, imperfect relationships, and unexpected plot twists. Tony Soprano started the trend of the unlikeable guy you root for, and Walter White perfected it. There is very little good in the characters here, but it’s presented in a way where you understand their motivations at least. There is the very real possibility that this nebulous anti-hero bubble will pop as new shows continuously try and out-grit whatever show was most popular a season ago…or perhaps I am being a big dumb baby who should go buy some new pacifiers and catch up on Sheldon’s latest rants. Bazinga!

Who is the most interesting character? The aforementioned pastor is a pretty complex character. He is a man of God but has many faults. A close second is “Holy Wayne.” His true intentions and his purpose in the whole story are often kept secret, but he is compelling every single time he makes an appearance.

the leftovers, HBO, Q&A
“This will show up on your credit card statement as “Wayne’s Rub n’ Hugs.”

Who could you do without? The mayor kind of sucks.

Best episode of season one? Episode 3, titled “Two Boats and a Helicopter.” The Pastor and his small church are going through some tough times. He deals has to deal with his troubles at home and the possible foreclosure of his church.

Is there a flashback episode? Yes. Got it out of the way.

Largest concern with the show going forward? They have set the table for some truly thought-provoking subject matter. My hope is they do something cool with it and they don’t write themselves in a corner. Hopefully Lindelof learned his lesson from Lost and is more conscious of the amount of questions being raised. I’d like to see them stay away from the obvious religious narratives, but I fear there may be some more holy stuff coming down the pipe.

Would you recommend this show? If there is something else you have been meaning to catch up on, by all means get to that first, because the story here is incomplete. There are a lot of interesting things packaged in The Leftovers. The main family we follow is imperfect and has an intriguing dynamic. The support characters are strong. “What if?” stories are usually fascinating, and the series’ creators do a good job of presenting these hypotheticals. Great starting point for a show, but I feel the best is yet to come.

Article by contributor Dimitri Datseris.

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2 thoughts on “A Few Questions about HBO’s The Leftovers

  1. It’s a Damon Lindelof show, if course you’re gonna have a lot of questions. And it’s very damn likely that you’re never gonna get the answers. Because that’s Lindelof for you.

    That’s the main reason why I don’t plan to give this show a chance anytime soon. I don’t like stories that ask questions the story itself has no idea how to answer. And given Lindelof’s track record, (Lost, Prometheus) I’m not risking getting myself invested into something that will very likely not have a good payoff.

    If I ever watch it, it will only be after the show has concluded, and if it actually was worth it by then. I didn’t watch lost, and given what I’ve heard about it, I’m very fucking glad I didn’t.

  2. Im two episodes in and have no clue what this show is about. But im a Liv Tyler fan so I will give it a chance. No shame she was great in her dads music videos.

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