If the only goal of a television pilot is to create a complex world and set up a season’s worth of mysteries than The Leftovers succeeded with flying colors.
Set in a small town three years after a rapture-like event, The Leftovers explores the idea of loss, grief and the unknown. Add in a mysterious cult, more impending doom and of course the remaining mystery of where two percent of the world’s population disappeared to and you have the recipe for a delicious summer series.
Unfortunately, a pilot must not just create its world, it should also create likable characters to inhabit it and give the audience a reason to care about them. And that is where The Leftovers fails. It fails so completely its almost impressive.
In an hour and ten minutes we were introduced to roughly 10 characters and not one of them were likable or even interesting. True, after having your loved ones disappear, there is bound to be some worldwide depression, but depressed people don’t make interesting TV characters.
The trouble is, no one told that to The Leftovers creators. In their mind The Leftovers is clearly the most important television show to ever be created. This is clear because every single frame has been composed to scream THIS IS IMPORTANT. And as we all learned in grade school, if you have to scream about how important you are, you probably aren’t important at all.
Perhaps my disappointment is even deeper because I had such high hopes for The Leftovers. The months of promos made the show seem intriguing and yes, maybe even important. Even the clips for the rest of the season had me thinking, well maybe it will get better. But then I thought about sitting through another hour watching a bunch of depressed people run around raising questions without answers backed by Lifetime movie music and I realized, there has to be a better way to spend my summer.
The Leftovers airs at 10/9c Sundays on HBO.
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