The Leftovers, an excessively dark series that follows the lives of those left on Earth after an unexplained, Rapture-like event, just completed its first season on HBO. I chatted with the guys from Wampire about the first season, why hopelessness and unanswered questions can be so appealing, and what they hope to see in season two.
KELLY: Why did you guys want to talk about The Leftovers?
ROCKY: The Leftovers had one of the best pilots that I’ve seen in a long time, the second episode was super promising as well. It’s just such a weird premise. We were super intrigued.
KELLY: Did you get to watch the finale last weekend?
ROCKY: I did, but Eric didn’t.
KELLY: Are you okay to talk about the finale even though Eric hasn’t seen it? Or, Eric, do you want to avoid SPOILERS?
ROCKY: I think its doable without giving away too much.
KELLY: How did you feel about it?
ROCKY: Well, basically, the finale kind of left me hanging in the wrong way. Sure there were some cliffhangers, but it’s been a season full of subplots and learning about all the different characters. It’s like Twin Peaks in that they have this main idea that they’re avoiding explaining for as long as possible, I get the sense that they’ll never really explain it.
KELLY: Yeah, I think Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta have both said that the “event” is never actually going to be explained. Making that clear before people get Lost mad.
ROCKY: But at the end we see a big change happen in Kevin’s life that resolves a lot of drama in season one so that leaves some hope.
ERIC: The scenes of Kevin’s Freudian terror dreams are insane, and they really add to the drama that they are all portraying in the show. His experiences, along with all the experiences of the other characters in the show, are building to create an excessive sense of tragedy. The scene where Kevin and the hunter dude (tobacco chewing dude) are in the cabin in the woods after kidnapping the cult lady in white is where everything takes a super dark turn in the show.
KELLY: Do you feel like that’s sort of the goal, in a sense, of The Leftovers — to show how people operate after tragedy, in the absence of hope? I think a big complaint from those who don’t like The Leftovers has been that there is no real goal, or upward movement for the characters, just a lot of meandering in darkness.
ROCKY: Yeah, I feel like the show really leans on the darkness in these people’s lives. Kevin, the main character, has these huge skeletons in his closet that he’s trying to come to terms with, and he’s trying put his family back together, but then he’s also plagued with the reality that he keeps blacking out and doing really fucked up shit like killing dogs and kidnapping people. And then the cult — it seems they’ve come together to meditate and reflect on this “rapture,” but instead they go about terrorizing this community, not saying anything (yet they waste a lot of time communicating writing messages to each other on paper and showing each other) and smoking cigarettes. It’s supposed to give them this really cool bad-ass demeanor, but it’s hard not to laugh at them at the same time. Not to mention that one of the women in the cult is the non speaking character from 30 Rock. Kinda made me wonder how that casting session went.
KELLY: Hahaha, right! Kathy Geiss!
KELLY: Wait, why do they smoke cigarettes? Is that another thing that is never going to be answered, or did they mention it and I missed it? Do they do it to die?
ERIC: I haven’t gotten the cigarette bit quite yet. My interpretation is that they stuff cigarettes in their mouth to make it easier not to talk, haha. Or that they are doing it simply to draw more attention to themselves as a malignant but silent community, at least in the eyes of Kevin and the “normal” characters.
KELLY: Oh, that’s a good thought.
ERIC: That is something I had pondered…if they were expressing apathy towards life and quickening their inevitable death or disappearance. I love the absurdity of the show. I think anybody who complains about that isn’t seeing the whole picture.
KELLY: What is the whole picture, do you think?
ERIC: The way mob mentality and inexplicable tragedies can degrade people’s ethical fabric. I think there is also a surrealist theme running through the whole show. It seems that the writers want to imply that it’s all without reason, irrational, and absurd. Maybe even trying to reflect real life through allegory…
ERIC: Is that part of what you found so intriguing about the premise?
ERIC: Yes. It’s one thing to watch a show that gets crazy and doesn’t explain it along the way, but The Leftovers is constantly dodging explanation. I find it entertaining in the way that it will never start “making sense”. TV needed this abandonment of satisfying conclusions mixed with intense drama. I love it.
KELLY: Do you guys have anything you hope to see in the second season?
ERIC: I want to see Kevin get laid. Seriously, dude is losing his mind and needs some sexual healing. The way he stares at his daughter’s friend in fear is sad. Dude needs a new lady.
ROCKY: I would like to see some more mysterious shit happen and maybe a little less personal drama. Although, Kevin getting laid would be tight. I wish they would take more of what made Twin Peaks work and do that. The show nods at Christianity a bunch, but it would cool to see some more Agent Dale Cooper zen-like activity in Kevin. Or even some of the mysticism we got out of True Detective. This show’s addicting, yet so far I find myself snickering at a lot of it. I think they’ll get there.