This Nerdpop article made me jump out of bed at 4:30AM. What started as some light reading to appease my early-morning bathroom needs will end in tears later this afternoon when I fall asleep at my desk, the letters Q and P nestled into my eyebrows.
So I disagree with the author’s conclusion that people “didn’t get” the ending to Lost. People got it, but they didn’t want it: the ending kinda sucked.
Lost isn’t good storytelling. That simple. It started out that way, but ended spectacularly poorly. Good stories are satisfying, and I’ll outline below why Lost just, well wasn’t.
First, the producers had a seductively delicious thing going: they drew audiences in using plot and great characters. We were off and running. People suspended disbelief and trusted that all mysteries would eventually be solved — because that’s what good stories do.
But Lost broke all the rules of trust. The writers kept piling on the mystery layers right up to the very end when they threw up their hands and said “we can’t possibly end this and tie everything up, soooooooooo: Heaven.” And that really made the audience mad. Duh.
So mad were some viewers that they couldn’t understand why a show they loved so hard for so long could have turned on them. So they did what they were trained to do, no rewarded for doing for 6 seasons: they searched for hidden meaning. But to no avail.
Furrowed frowny face.
But an unhappy audience isn’t a “dumb” audience. They’re the Audience! Capital-A! They’re a necessary part of storytelling: the missing piece of the “tree falling in the woods” metaphor. If a tree falls and nobody’s there to hear it… “Whoooooooooooo cares?!”
And if Lost’s point was to frustrate the audience, then congrats: here’s a well-deserved “slow, sarcastic, clap”.
But seriously, I don’t think that was the purpose. I think the ending was simply bolted onto this impossible-to-end show. I believe the writers genuinely tried their best. The first seasons set the bar pretty high, and for that I consider it a really fantastic experiment in storytelling.
I liked Lost. Sure did… a lot. And then I didn’t… sure didn’t. And still don’t. The sting is still too fresh.
But I “get it”.