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TV 101: How 'Lost' Is Like a Loveless Marriage

by Jay Black, posted Mar 10th 2010 11:02AM
Yeah, that's pretty much what being married feels like.For a lot of 'Lost' fans, the only numbers that really matter anymore are 5, 23, and 10 - May 23rd of this year, the Dharma Train finally pulls into the station and we'll find out once and for all whether the writers knew what they were doing.

It's almost a certainty that you're going to be disappointed. Had the show ended during its second or third season, I would have stocked up on flashlights, canned goods, and pornography to wait out the riots that surely would have followed some lame "not all questions are meant to be answered" kind of ending.

I'm not worried now because that kind of car-tipping passion just isn't there anymore. For most fans, this last season marked the moment when our relationship with 'Lost' stopped being a love affair and started being a loveless marriage.

You're probably thinking that someone who wants to seriously compare romantic relationships with the way people feel about television has an Abed-level of inability to relate to people in a normal way. And to that I say: Shazbot! I know exactly how Earth people interact with other Earth people. Kay-o?

It's just hard to deny the parallels between TV and romance:

1. Infatuation.

"So, I'm clicking around last night, not really expecting anything to happen and I wind up on this channel that I never, ever watch. I was just about to turn off the TV and go use G.I. Joe figures to recreate Frederich Hart's 'Ex nihilo' - don't judge! it's a hobby! - when I found this new TV show! It's got everything! Romance! Action! Science Fiction! A POLAR BEAR! I mean, I don't want to be weird or anything, but it feels like maybe I was meant to find this show."

2. Love

"And another thing I love about 'Lost' is that they don't answer everything like right away, they kind of give you enough answers to make you happy, but then, get this, with every new answer comes like FIVE new questions. And another thing I love about 'Lost' is..."

3. Disappointment

"Don't get me wrong, I still love 'Lost', it's just that it's been four years already. When the hell are we going to get any answers!? I mean, every time they give you ONE answer, you get like FIVE new questions. It's driving me insane!"

4. Doubt

"Sometimes I'll be watching 'Lost' and wondering what else is on. Things just got so complicated all of a sudden. I didn't get into this to study charts online just so I could figure out what the hell is going on. I mean, it's supposed to be fun, right? RIGHT!?"

5. Settling

"Well, I've come this damn far. I might as well see it out till the end."

Judging by what I've read online and what my friends are saying about 'Lost', it appears that most of us are in that final phase. We just want to make it to the end.

Even the quality of that ending doesn't matter all that much. So maybe the Flash-Sideways takes away some dramatic connection to the characters. And maybe it's becoming painfully obvious by what Lindelof and Abrams are saying publicly that not every question is going to be answered completely. And maybe once this thing finally ends and we watch all the episodes in order, the show won't look like a grand tapestry of genius, but rather a pretentious D&D campaign.

So what? We've come this far. We're sticking it out.

'Lost' certainly isn't the only show that has ended as a loveless marriage. Most people watched the last few years of 'ER' on pure sense memory. Every episode of the 'Gilmore Girls' after Amy Sherman-Palladino left felt like a stale fart at a hate-filled Thanksgiving Dinner. Even the nine people on the planet who still watch 'Smallville' have gotten tired of writing Lex Luthor/Clark Kent slash fiction: they just want to see Superman in the damned costume and then be done with it.

For all of these shows, the passion left the relationship, yet every night we crawled into bed with them anyway.

It's a testament to the connection we have with TV that we not only get to this point, but that it's commonplace. What other medium in the history of humankind has the power to keep its viewers hooked well after the point where they stopped caring?

It makes sense. We spend more time with our TV family than we do with our own, so of course the connection is deeper.

Don't believe me? Think about '24', a show so far past its expiration date that I expect it to show up on sale at the Kwik-E-Mart any time now. You're still watching, though, because by the end of this eighth season, we'll have spent close to 200 hours with Uncle Jack. I'm not sure I've logged 150 solid hours with my wife.

(It's not just me - gun-to-head, I think my wife would choose 'The Office' over me, despite the fact that somewhere in the last 6 months, the show turned into a giant, pulsating sack of suck, not unlike that heart thing at the end of 'Contra').

It's probably better that series decline into the Loveless Marriage stage. It's the only way to painlessly say goodbye to our favorite shows. When a show gets canceled while its fans are still in love with it, things tend to get insufferable. Do you really want to watch another whiny fan base send nuts to CBS? Yeah, me neither.

When 'Lost' ends no one will be carving four-toed statues in the hope that ABC changes its mind. When that last hour airs, good or bad, we'll breathe a sigh of relief and get on with our lives.

And by "get on with our lives" I mean, of course, "go find another show to fall in love with".

----

Column note: starting today, I'm headed to Germany and Italy to do a two week comedy tour for our troops. I hope to file TV 101s from across the Atlantic, but I'm not 100% sure that Europe has the internet yet. I'll do my best, but if TV 101 disappears for a couple of weeks, I hope you'll understand why.

(Jay Black is a writer and comedian who really hopes you enjoy this column. You can find out where to catch Jay's live shows by going to his website www.jayblackcomedy.net).

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Greg andrew

I've never cared more. The last two seasons have been continually thrilling. Lost continues to work on all levels. Sure, it's not perfect, but nothing as ambitious as Lost can be. No, we're not going to get an answer to every question, because that would be totally impossible. I frankly don't want "mitochondria" type answers; that would cheapen the show. This season, other answers have been coming fast and furious. In retrospect, the sideways split was the only way to follow up last year's cliffhanger.

And right now there's nothing else on tv that I care about nearly as much as Lost. I like Damages, Burn Notice, Supernatural, The Good Wife, Dexter, Big Love (despite its subpar season), True Blood, House, Stargate: Universe and Caprica, but none of them provide the sher pleasure that Lost does. The only piece of media I'm looking forward to as much as the rest of Lost is the last volume of Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson biography (and that will require a much longer wait).

March 23 2010 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Art

I've lost interest in the series. I couldn't care less what happens since I stopped understanding what was going on. Episode Four into the final series, I switched off for good.

March 13 2010 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

I disagree, sir. And, if you don't care anymore, why bother? You can find out how it ends the day after!

But, for me, I'd compare it more to a mature marriage, rekindled when the kids are finally out of the house and pregnancy is no longer a concern. I am having a blast and soaking in every nuanced second of the final season of Lost. No one is allowed to bother Mommy for these last nine hours of my favorite show ever.

Sure, we've had our rough patches, what relationship doesn't. But, Damon and Carlton have had the end in sight for years and appreciate the fans and are well aware of the pitfalls of long-running questions being answered.

I am 99.9% sure that I will be far more upset about Lost being over than I will about how it's wrapped up.

Again, life's too short, man. If you don't love it, get the heck off the island!

March 11 2010 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kris

"And maybe it's becoming painfully obvious by what Lindelof and Abrams are saying publicly that not every question is going to be answered completely. "

I think you mean Cuse because Abrams hasn't been truly involved in the show since it's first season (except for writing one episode in Season Three).

March 11 2010 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GerryofNorVA

Carlton & Cuse know they're under the gun to get the ending right. Their friends & families reflect our same concerns. We're all going to stick to the end and hopefully, hopefully be wowed by their carefully and artfully engineered denouement.

My advice to maximize your enjoyment is to simply enjoy it one ep at a time, don't try to guess the ending, and don't try to theorize it -- those are the activities that lead to disappointment. Just keep an open mind and hopefully at the end we'll all simultaneously go "Wow! That was soooo cool."

March 10 2010 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
medstud

To: Jay Black
From: Happily Married Al

A sure way to have a marriage become loveless is to expect perfection or anything near of it from your partner. Don't expect to be awed and you'll be awed. While Lost has had great moments, so far I've enjoyed this season more than any other.

March 10 2010 at 9:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim McCleese

I really wanted to follow this show in (its) early years but I could not get past that polar bear on a pacific island....seriously. Having said that, I have no doubt it was (and is) an excellent show. Well, maybe later in life in my retirement years I'll catch the dvds.

March 10 2010 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lylekira

I have never fallen out of Lost. I don't care to worry about the little unanswered questions that are surely to remain. I hope the big ones' are clarified and there is some sort of "closure" but beyond that, my love affair with Lost has always been about the journey and never the destination.

I will miss the show terribly when its gone, and someday I'd love to watch the entire season again in succession for fun. Of course I'd need like a month with nothing else to do.

March 10 2010 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
charles melrose III

The evolution of your response to Lost matches mine. My admiration for the craft that the writers have demonstrated keeps me involved, albeit at a less interested level, and that admiration also leaves me optimistic that the ultimate resolution will reflect the creative and writing excellence that's characterized the series since it began.

March 10 2010 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BLMoonlight

I'm actually surprised that no one has commented anything similar to my own thoughts, so allow me to contribute, for what it's worth. To me, watching Lost has been like reading one of the best novels I've ever read. Now, it feels like I'm reading the last chapter, and getting that anxious feeling of wanting to be at the final page, but the end doesn't mean I'll no longer love the book. Classics become classics for a reason.

My usual reaction while closing the back cover after reading the final words of a masterpiece is a sigh consider the entire overall message that I received from it, which usually brings forth a "Wow." I might later contemplate the many questions found in the beginning that never were answered but usually realize those questions were simply there to inspire or tweak imagination.

"Lost" has been one of the most intriguing "novels" I've ever experienced. It's creation and original style of presentation has been pure genius. I'd prefer to leave it at that while I finish that final chapter. And I won't worry of whether or not all questions are answered; I simply look forward to that final sigh, accompanied by the "Wow".

March 10 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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