Against my better judgment, I’ve recently started watching The Leftovers. Why do I keep doing this to myself?
It started last summer, when I was doing some basic hanging out in Iowa and living for the reliable, every-Friday delivery of my Entertainment Weekly. I read that HBO was developing a show based on the people-are-suddenly-vanishing book The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. Having previously worked at a bookstore, I recognized the title and recalled the cover art—a pair of men’s dress shoes, faintly smoking. “Interesting,” my brain thought to itself—or something like that. And as the cast started being announced—Justin Theroux (yes, I love Tropic Thunder and those few episodes of Six Feet Under), Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor!), Amy Brenneman (Fear, and let’s just leave it at that) and Liv Tyler—I knew I had to get into this. Luckily, in checking my local Barnes & Noble, a discount hardcover edition of the book was only $4! Clearly, all the signs pointed to yes here, right?
Apocalypse!! I mean, Cheers!!!
And yes, reading the books before watching the show/seeing the movie is a theme with me. I like to be prepared, and also have a lot of solitary hours to fill.
So I started reading The Leftovers. I liked it at first—The Guilty Remnant, the crazy priest, the way things seemed on the verge of being out of control. And then, things started to twist in ways that didn’t seem as perceptive or interesting or, worst of all, satisfying. And unfortunately, I found the book to end just that way—upsettingly incomplete. So, fine, just one less TV show to watch. It’s difficult for me to miss HBO event programming like this, but I’ll soothe myself with hours of rewatching Futurama.
What? The rapture happened and I’m still here with you @*!$&#% @$$%^*#$? That’s #*$&@%$ %^!!$#!%.
Since those fateful days last summer I’ve been merrily living my life Leftovers-free, seeing the occasional article or Facebook freakout about the show, which started in June, but being able to brush it away as “knowing better.” But we’re in a drought of August TV (even though I am watching The Knick, and you guys should be too), and my roommate watched the first episode of The Leftovers online and liked it. Maybe I’m mellowing or something, but I honestly thought to myself, “One episode won’t hurt.” And before I knew it, we were binging through Episode 3 and I was reinvested in this Leftovers world. Am I a TV glutton for punishment? What am I doing? (*Editor’s Note: If you’re not schooled in the art of TV binging, read this first before undertaking the risky endeavor – Manic Mike.)
OK, first of all, 30 Rock’s Kathy Geiss is in this show, so let’s face it—I was powerless. But also, there are some changes from the book to the show that have helped keep me engaged, and we’re not yet to the plot points I found so maddening in the book version. Maybe we’ll never get there. And maybe that’s my TV curse—to always be hopeful until proven disastrously wrong. And by then it’s too late anyway. I’m invested.
Think something sad, think something sad, think something sad, think something sad, think something sad…
Maybe I’ll bail in the future. Maybe I’ll stick it out until the bitter end and complain the whole way through. But just maybe, it will turn out more awesome than I ever could have anticipated. And even if that doesn’t happen, there’s got to be some good memories along the way…. right?
So, what TV shows did you vow never to watch that you ended up getting obsessed with? (The first one in that vein for me was Veronica Mars. No regrets. Just watch it.) And have you ever felt like a TV show completely fulfilled its broadcast destiny? If so, I would like the full title and its streaming capabilities, because there’s a three-day weekend coming up and I only have a few more episodes of The Leftovers to watch.