Not gonna lie, I started watching this show for Justin Theroux. I saw the intriguing street advertisements back in 2014 whilst in Spain and they gave me the extra nudge I needed to tune in. The premise of the show was weird and cool and different; one October day, 2% of the global population vanished into thin air.
In its three seasons, the show never delves into the actual/scientific reason behind the departure. That was initially frustrating for me because I--and most people--find solace in a black-and-white answer. It is a part of the human condition. We're always looking and searching for meaning and reason. Why are we here? Why are we like this? Why do I feel like this? Why did this happen? It would be easier to know, but we don't. This is what The Leftovers is about.
It's about flawed, realistic, lonely people who are universally grieving for that 2%. Sometimes there isn't an answer to our problems--or to why half the world fell away. At least not one that we can comprehend. In that way, we all grieve for the loss of reason. When we lose our way, ourselves, our beliefs, our loved ones, we are tempted to sit back, play victim, and wonder--selfishly--why tragedy happened upon us? Why me?
That's the thing--we are the first species (that we know of) that has evolved to think critically about things beyond us--beyond humanity. Human dissatisfaction with unknowns has led us to create great things; religion, literature, film. These constructions help us to cope with the very questions that--if we indulged--could swallow us whole.
Kevin Garvey's various journeys through different realms, time, and space aren't trying to answer the question of why. In fact, the show is not trying to answer any questions at all; it presents us with the peculiar responses and justifications for why that various individuals come up with; it provides us with possible and likely explanations. Questions of faith are raised, spirituality is explored, and counter-culture is created, but none of these responses are more "right" than another. A response is just a response. There is only persisting; enduring; living. Pushing through the uncertainty of life and moving towards acceptance and accepting that there are some things we cannot control--cannot understand.
I cannot even attempt to explain what occurred in the shows' three seasons, but I can definitively say that it was beautiful and spiritual and real. The characters and the departure may be fictitious, but--both the writing and acting--perfectly encapsulate raw, unfiltered, complex human emotions and frustrations. I feel like a more philosophical person because of The Leftovers. The show perfectly packages its characters and gives you a multiple, different-sized, different-style, pairs of shoes to walk a mile in.
It is truly a profound television experience; one that you may not fully grasp, but can still fully appreciate.
Stream The Leftovers on HBO GO!