In the beginning, I was not a believer. I remember being inundated with promos, seeing that dude who had cancer on Party of Five wearing a suit on an island and the mousy-hot chick wearing a bra and watching the tide roll in. I remember the big explosions and the roar of the monster. I remember being intrigued by the prospect of a new series from the guy who created Alias. But, all this paled in comparison to the lame concept: people stranded on a desert island. Cast Away had come out a few years earlier and, to my mind, played that concept out. Nonetheless, I watched the first twenty or minutes or so of the Lost pilot from my college apartment (because, really, It’s not like I was doing anything else) and then gave up. Beer, or the gym, or video games were calling. It wasn’t until a year later that I finally caved and rented the first season DVD. This was not an atypical path to Lost fandom. Like countless others, once those DVDs were in my possession, it was game over. I was hooked.
I bring this up because I just got off the phone with my brother, who is studying abroad in Europe, and he told me that he’s been keeping up with this season of Lost. This struck me as amazing for a couple of reasons: 1) The addictive powers of Lost are more intense than any other series, ever. Period. 2) Lost inspires an obsessive need to not fall behind. Those two points may seem similar, but they’re not. Let me explain: I’m also a big fan of 24, but have never felt left out, if you will, if I fall behind a week or two. That series is as addictive as anything else (my friends and I called watching 24 on DVD “hitting the ol’ crack pipe,” for instance). But, the difference is that discussing 24 isn’t very interesting. Besides saying things like, “Yeah, when Jack Bauer bit that guy’s neck off, that was awesome,” there’s nothing to converse about. Nor can different opinions be formed. This goes for pretty much every one of my other favorite TV shows. Once they’re over, they’re over, and I can set them aside and look forward to next week. With Lost, falling behind is inexcusable.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struck up conversations about the weekly events of Lost with total strangers. Even with my friends, there’s always a weekly impromptu discussion about whatever went down on the island. This is all well and good, but I’ve been trying to grasp its significance. After all, it’s only a TV show.
Maybe not, though. To inspire such maniacal fandom out of a normally apathetic television audience is an epic achievement. People who don’t like TV like Lost. People who are too busy too watch TV every night actively find time to catch Lost. To me, if I attempt to step back and look at Lost compared to the rest of the television landscape, only one conclusion can be made: there is nothing like it, and there has never been anything like it. Now, I’m not discussing quality, not really. Of course, to acquire such a rapt audience requires the show to be good. And Lost isn’t just good, it’s great. But it’s not, like, The Beatles of TV series or anything – it has its flaws. With Lost, though, its overwhelming uniqueness comes from how it’s ingested by the audience. The communal nature of the series, the online fan response, the theories, the Easter Eggs, the philosophy – it’s overwhelming in its vastness.
For now, I can only say this: we need to appreciate Lost while its still around. While the replay value of the show is quite high, once its gone we’re not likely to see another series like it. If a study abroad student in Prague, who can sometimes be described as “highly unmotivated,” felt the need to keep up with a TV show that he could easily catch up with in the summer, something special is going on. If I, like many of you out there, are already itching for new episodes when it’s only been off for a couple of weeks, something special is going on.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)