Best Television of 2014: “The Leftovers”
Season one of HBO's post-"apocalyptic" Damon Lindelof mystery examines relationships forever changed by grief and trauma.
Full disclosure: I haven’t seen too many non-comedy TV shows, so this was by far the weirdest and most captivating first season of a drama I have ever watched. The first episode was so damn good that I stayed glued even through some of the season’s slower stuff (and there was a lot of that). Initially, I think I hoped that the myriad plot strings would be tied up eventually, but then somewhere around “Two Boats and a Helicopter” (aka the “Reverend Matt” episode) I must have realized, with some relief and satisfaction, that plot wasn’t the point of The Leftovers. It is a show about loss, and grief, and how to cope with the slow-burning revelation that some things just stay gone forever. But there were still moments of hope here, and unlike most of the serious TV I have seen, these weren’t red herrings, jerked away only to reveal themselves again later down the road. No, the hope of The Leftovers is eternal, and vague, and very sad but also humbling, and for that reason alone I watched each week, hoping not for a solution to messy loose threads but instead to make sure that the characters retained just a thread of hope themselves. Here’s hoping that season two is every bit as riveting.—Pat McGuire