The Leftovers Premiere Review: Is Grieving Entertainment?

The Leftovers Premiere Review: Is Grieving Entertainment?

Dealing with sudden loss is wrenching, traumatizing and life-changing, but does it make good television?

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I knew there was a reason I never got into the idea of this series. I just can't watch a show so unbearably depressing with no hope of reprieve. Serial entertainment as a concept is there to be an escape, a way to relieve the stress of the day. Walking Dead is popular not because it's the apocalypse and everyone is dead but because it's cathartic to relieve stress by taking it out on zombies or roving bands of bikers in the most gruesome ways imaginable. The drama is there so that knocking out hordes of zombies does not get stale and to add humanity to the characters we use as an outlet on the weekends. Even Dominion, in all its hackneyed, cliched storytelling, again, post-apocalypse, has a ton of fluff there purely for entertainment value and not for the sake of drama. Angel orgy anyone? Yes, I think I will.

I feel your premise is just wrong @Dan O'Halloran.
Does media have to be entertainment? If you asked books that, you'd leave out probably the best literature can offer.
What is important is that it is in some way meaningful, significant, that it says something.

I understand that you don't mean trashy silly, or comedic ridiculous, but assuming there should be evasion and not introspection is a massive belittlement of the range of experiences that we can imprint into our current media, and a disservice to yourself as a thinking person.

You not only fail to answer your question: Is it good television? but you fail to actually review the episode in any meaningful way other than projecting a prejudice about your intended continued carelessness for what the show might mean.

Also, by declaring that life's too short you imply that there should be more important things to be doing other than watching a grim TV series? reflecting on transcendental matters?
Do you mean that life should be passed more light-heartedly? Do you understand that games, art, tv, books and all sorts of human expression are in fact unnecessary and you could consider ALL of that unworthy of spending your time in?

Is light time wasting better than thoughtful time wasting? you seem to imply so. And that's just wrong.

EDIT: Now, keep in mind that I don't think this is the best show ever or much less, I'm concerned with the handling of mystery (hoping it does not follow what happened with LOST).
I also hope they don't use unnatural communication as a plot device, since a lot of the characters seem to be incapable of actually speaking to one another as normal human beings.

About the plot, I think that 2% of the population disappearing seems a bit low, and could have less of an impact socially than what they imply, but of course, this is still a drama fantasy series, so suspension of disbelief is still viable, at least for me.

On the technical side, there were two very particular musical montage moments, which although excellently shot, I believe were heavy handed and disjointed the narrative without much purpose. I love James Blake and all but I thought it was out of place and unnecessary.

However, all things considered I also believe they have nailed the melancholy, the subtlety and made the conflict quite enticing beyond the simple grief, there is much in the way of motivations and secrets that could definitely pay off in the longer run.

This is a dumb show. The entire premise relies on the idea that people would react to such an event the way it was depicted in the show. I highly doubt that. And after three years I doubt anyone would give a shit. One thing I agree on, though. Americans would totally try to make themselves feel better by calling the remembrance day "Hero's Day" or whatever. Only they have the capacity to ignore reality and reason to such an extent because they can't cope with anything anymore. Everybody else would just call it the memorial day or something else that makes sense.

Adam Jensen:
This is a dumb show. The entire premise relies on the idea that people would react to such an event the way it was depicted in the show. I highly doubt that.

It seems silly to criticize a work of fiction for not fitting exactly how you think it would happen if it was real. Is their version necessarily what would happen? No. Is it a plausible idea about what could happen in such a situation? From what little they showed in the pilot I would certainly say it is.

But your criticism is so inherently silly that you might as well be saying Star Trek was a bad show because we wouldn't behave like that if we traveled the stars, or because humanoid aliens probably won't be what we find out there, or because life may not actually be quite that plentiful.

And I'll just ignore the rest of your post because well a lot of Americans may be idiots who do stupid things to delude themselves into adopting whatever state of mind is convenient, I'm not sure why you think they're unique in this regard, particularly with the seeming resurgence of far right extremist political parties that espouse ignorance and blatant racism in the EU lately. And that's without touching any of the 100+ other countries that are equally fucked up in their own ways. Acting like the US is some special snowflake and every where else isn't vulnerable to the same bullshit taking different forms is either incredibly naive, or willful blindness.

As for the review, I fail to see where the assumption that the show will only showcase people's grief with no hope of reprieve comes from? Have they said they'll never deal with anything but people feeling bad in the show? Because unless the show is going to shape up to be one of the worst written in history I doubt they'll never have any lighter moments.

This seems like a rather old topic to be bringing up, considering the show Intervention ran from 2005 to 2013 and was based upon watching families crumble to pieces over the crippling addiction of one of the family members. :P

But hey, the show won an Emmy or two, so apparently people do find grief and misery to be entertaining, even when it's not fictitious.

This pilot was disappointing. Tyrant will be my new show. The first 2 episodes were very good.

Adam Jensen:
This is a dumb show. The entire premise relies on the idea that people would react to such an event the way it was depicted in the show. I highly doubt that. And after three years I doubt anyone would give a shit. One thing I agree on, though. Americans would totally try to make themselves feel better by calling the remembrance day "Hero's Day" or whatever. Only they have the capacity to ignore reality and reason to such an extent because they can't cope with anything anymore. Everybody else would just call it the memorial day or something else that makes sense.

I agree with the first half of your comment, but did you really have to turn the rest of your comment into a rant on America? Really unnecessary and mean-spirited.

No. There's no incentive for me to care about the characters if they get killed off, or spend most of the story moping around and not doing anything to better them-self.

My main issue is that only 2% of the worlds population had vanished (as they kept saying in the show), but they're acting like half the world vanished. I probably could have gotten more on board with it if that number wasn't so small since in reality since it's only what, 100 million that vanished? Out of 100 people you know maybe 2 would actually have vanished. The fact that so many people in this one town vanished, it doesn't make any sense as to how this is a world event and more of a 'this one towns people vanished, the whole world barely notices but here in this town they don't know how to cope'

They kept making the number a rather important fact, how many people vanish is important to how many people are to lose in this show. It sets up this mystery of something very wrong is going on, but it's mystery is bogged down heavily by how much they want to stress the loss aspect. It's 3 years later and no one knows what to do with themselves, the people who are being followed so far aren't very interesting since all they have done is wallow in self pity.

Also the mood of the show is trying to be this awkward feeling downer type of thing. Sudden jump cuts from a quite scene to a really loud violent one in a split second feels rather cheap. A way to make tension and trying to emphasis the madness that is going off just ends up coming up really annoying to watch. It's trying really hard to make people ask why and be pulled into these characters through the mystery, but why should we care?

The one part that I actually found to be justified in a characters frustrations was when the Chief has a flashback to what he was doing at the time of the everyone vanishes. He was in the middle of having sex with his wife, but then it turns out oh no she didn't vanish at all she just went off somewhere because... this people vanished event is supposed to be so startling it drove her mad? Why is the family being so effected by this event if none of them personally was actually effected in the way it had been hinting it was?

There's just too many whys to the characters actions and how they react. I know it's just the first episode, but why should anyone care about these characters and their woes of the people vanishing event if it doesn't make any sense to why they're reacting this way?

Thank you, Dan. Besides finding this show terribly boring, I could not explain that feeling I had in my gut, now I can.
I agree that even though there *may* be a larger story here, I do not care to be exposed to constant grief experienced by characters I do not care about.

I am giving this show a wide berth

 

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