Lost started as a story of about a dozen plane crash survivors struggling to live on an island where mysterious things happen. It gradually expanded into a sci-fi epic spanning thousands of years, featuring more than a hundred characters, and including all sorts of fantastical and pseudo-sciencey elements — time travel and divergent timelines, the mind- and body-altering powers of electromagnetism, etc.
It’s a pretty unique piece of culture — with a massive budget and epic production scale, but seemingly designed for a cult audience of dedicated viewers. It gradually shed viewers over its six seasons but always got a lot of press and acclaim. The show was often good, occasionally great, frequently frustrating, and always noteworthy.
I started watching Lost on Netflix towards the end of its run with my now-wife. We made it through four seasons before being overwhelmed (and, ultimately, a bit bored) with its growing number of mysteries and characters.
That’s not to say we didn’t like the show. Quite the opposite, actually. We fell in love with its best characters, particularly in the thrilling first season as we started to learn the dark pasts of this motley crew of survivors.
The show was at its best when used its trappings to tell emotional stories about its characters. From lovable, jumbo-sized Hurley’s tangle with a number-driven curse to mysterious Locke’s feud with his double-crossing father, to Jin and Sun’s complex romance: these were characters you could root for in spite of their flaws.
The series high point for me may be “The Constant” from the show’s third season, where Desmond flips back and forth from the past and future. The show intertwines Desmond’s temporal dilemma with a romantic dilemma as he tries to win over Penny. It showed Lost at its best: less interested with sci-fi exposition than with fleshing out a character and his personal conflict. “I love youh, Penny. I’ve ahlways loved youh” still gives me chills whenever I watch the clip on YouTube.
As I said, we stopped watching a few episodes into the fifth season. At that point we felt like we were watching more out of habit than out of genuine interest. Maybe if we’d been forced to wait a week between episodes, to speculate and crawl the forums for fan theories, it might have sunk a little deeper into my consciousness and earned a higher spot on the list. I definitely love the idea of a show like Lost, and I’m glad it was made.
And, as a final footnote, Lost made for one of my favorite Internet memes and jokes ever. Episodes of Lost would end by jumping to the title card of Lost. Because the show often ended episodes with big twists, the title card was often accompanied by a “WTF just happened?” feeling. Thus, about six or seven years ago, people started replying to comments or posts that went in strange directions with a screencap of the title card, or even just L O S T, as a way of letting someone know they just went off the deep end or took something in an unexpected direction. (A couple years later, this was revived as I N C E P T I O N.)