Thursday, May 13, 2010

Haters to the left!

What an uproar. I can't believe the amount of "OMGWTFBBQ???!! I hate this show now and I wasted my life watching it and now I will rage bitterly against it on the internet until my keyboard breaks" kind of posts I've seen online since Across the Sea aired.

Seriously. What is going on? I LOVED the episode. Touching, well-acted, poignant story, lots of reveals, yes some cheesiness with the light but hey - we'd seen that before when Ben turned the donkey wheel... So why the rage? Not enough answers? Not enough f/x? Not enough naming of characters? Not enough Latin? Not enough about Smokey? Not enough midichlorians? What?

Of course it didn't contain all the answers. It wasn't the finale. Of course some things will never be answered. Of course it was frustrating and exhilarating at the same time: this is LOST we're talking about after all. Didn't your (murdering, people-hating, yet oddly lovable and tragic) mother tell you that every answer leads to more questions?

I'm starting to think that the reason people are so mad is because we ARE getting answers but they're not the answers people had worked out in their own minds. I've seen the disappointment before. Locke seemed like he was an all-knowing superhero in S1, yet turned out to be a paraplegic box-company minion. Alpert seemed like he was an Egyptian exile (don't hate on Nestor because of his ravishing eyelashes!), and then turns out to have been some poor farmer sold into slavery. Jacob seemed like he was an omnipotent god or alien, and then turns out to have been a momma's boy with anger issues.

This is Lost. This is the show we've been watching from Day 1. This is a show that usually does NOT give you the answer you expected, and if it does, it just leads to another question you did NOT expect.

Over the years I've seen so many theories on what the island is and who Jacob is and what is the ultimate secret at the heart of the show. It's a wormhole, a space ship, hell, Eden, purgatory, gods, aliens, angels, demons, devils, genies... Has there ever been a TV-show that's created so much debate and theory-making and philosophy-spouting across the world? I love the show for it's intricacies and it's layers and it's answers and questions and for its multi-shaded characters, for its humour and heart. It has flaws, major flaws (the main one imo being how it treats female characters), but it is the most original and audacious show I've seen on TV in a long time. Maybe forever. And now as it's winding down we get the writers' answers to all those questions we've been pondering and making up theories about for 6 seasons: and you know what, I HOPE everybody else's theories were all wrong. I hope the writers do something else.

I like this take from Dan Fierman at GQ. He has issues with the latest episode, but he isn't writing the show off yet and he analyzes the outrage like this:

But more than that, Lost itself has been treated by the internet, by fans, by... US like a car that can be stripped for parts and put together however we liked. The groundbreaking criticism that came out of Lost wasn't from theorizers or recappers or TV critics, but from guys like DocArzt and Doc Jensen, who took the show apart every single week and reassembled it into something different, something to fit their peculiar intellectual whim. When all is said and done, it's this—not the return of Sci Fi or serialized storytelling—that is the great legacy of the show. One week we see an allegory for faith, the next a meditation on science gone haywire, the next on broken men and how they come back from the brink. But NONE of those interpretations were strictly textual, they were a secondary Lost game, the ultimate Easter Egg of the show. But at some point, that secondary "Lost game" became the primary "Lost game". And when that happened, the narrative slipped out of the control of the creators. We have all built the ending of this show in our minds to be what we want it to be, and therefore there is no way it could have been satisfying.
To those who want more answers I say: The show isn't even over! Keep watching.

To those who don't like the answers the creators of the show are providing, then maybe you should stop watching and write your own fan-fic ending. For 6 seasons the writers of Lost have kept me hooked. After reading and writing so many theories about what it all means and what it all is, I want to see THEIR ending and THEIR answers.

Screencaps thanks to Lostpedia and DarkUfo.


Anonymous said...

Tell me more about how you think the show has treated their female characters, or point me to some past blogs where you have discussed this. Thanks!

Maria said...

I've written about this before here, for example at the end of this post:

Basically, I think the writers have not been able to write a consistently good, strong female character that mattered in her own right. They have written many promising female characters: Rousseau, Ilana, Kate, Sun, Juliet... but they never seem to really finish the job. Ilana blew herself up stupidly before getting much to do after a nice beginning for the character. Kate is a nice, complex character but was reduced for much of the show to a romantic entanglement for Jack/Sawyer: her biggest plot point seemed to be who she'd sleep with next. Rousseau got killed stupidly too (like Ilana), though in that case an aware that the actress wanted out. Sun was reduced to basically asking for Jin once an episode for a very long time, after she seemed to be set up for something more important (trying to kill Ben, talking to Widmore, confronting her father for example). Juliet was probably the strongest female character on the show and I do think she (and Sun) got good endings at least. She too was made a romantic entanglement to a male character, but I did love her chemistry with Sawyer so it's hard to complain about that. She was complex, bad and good and had her own motivations for doing things.

All in all I think the female characters have often been reduced to bit parts and their main function has seemed to be as love interests for the males. I understand that on a show with so many characters, many will get shafted, but the sad demise of Rousseau and Ilana and Sun's unimportance for so many seasons after it seemed they had better plans for her is still disappointing.

I liked Kate's storyline as Aaron's caretaker because it gave Kate something to do that was not related to Jack and Sawyer (I really have never liked that love triangle: it's always seemed forced imo).

See, I can blab about this for way too long! Thanks for reading, and commenting!

Anonymous said...

Good points. I think male writers in general do not know what to do with women. And women in TV generally do not get equal play. I watched the SNL with Betty White after years of not watching SNL and could not believe how many men were in the credits before the first woman appeared. That being said, I still like Jack and Kate as a couple! I know he's so brooding and serious, and in that way so very much like a real doctor, but still he's hard to resist. Sawyer is just too cute. Kate never really liked him the same way she liked Jack, at least that's what I think! Fun to chat, thanks.

Maria said...

I agree with your thoughts about women on TV. Very few shows use really strong female characters that act independently of any male "attachments". Same goes for movies too, unfortunately.

It will be interesting to see how Kate's story plays out in the end. Supposedly we will find out why she is no longer a candidate, and that will be interesting for many reasons!