The Leftovers

wow! That’s the reaction I had after just finishing the final season of HBO’s The Leftovers. I (stupidly) neglected this show as I thought it was just another shallow sci-fi post-apocalyptic drama and I’ve never been so wrong. Literally from the opening scene you are hooked. To prove this to you, I’ve included the opening scene below. Watch at your own risk…

The oversimplified plot:
On October 14, 2011, 2% of the world’s population (or roughly 140 million people) disappeared off the face of the planet without reason or cause. The first season takes place 3 years after the ‘sudden departure’ in the fictional town of Mapleton. We follow local chief of police, Kevin Garvey, as he carries out his duties whilst dealing with his own family’s ‘adjustments’. An interesting byproduct of the departures is the creation of the ‘Guilty Remnant’ cult. This lovely bunch of people have dedicated their lives to reminding loved ones of those who have ‘departed’. This may sound like a nice thing but I assure you,  it’s not. The people of the GR are self-proclaimed “Living Reminders” of those who have left us and they take this proclamation very seriously, so seriously infact that they would ambush a memorial (as seen below).

If we were to take a step back and look at the evolution of the plot across the whole series, it’s amazing the ground they cover. As the show progresses, we are steadily exposed to equal parts science and religion as they both come into play as people strive to understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Naturally, the level of symbolism is extremely high throughout The Leftovers and the director does an excellent job in not assuming we (the audience) are complete fools. This makes for a riveting journey that requires the utmost attention. One thing to note is that only season 1 was based on Tom Perrotta’s critically acclaimed book ‘The Leftovers’. The subsequent seasons were 100% original content. The reason I mentioned this is because I definitely noticed a change in pace and subject matter after S1. It’s not a deal breaker, but S1 set such a blistering pace it was almost impossible to top.

Why you should watch it:

Soundtrack – The original soundtrack is composed by Max Richter (Shutter Island, Taboo, Black Mirror etc) and it is an absolute treat to the ears. The score and track selection is so well-matched to the cinematography that there are times when your attention is drawn away from the story as the aesthetics and acoustics are so beautiful together.

Depth – Despite my oversimplified plot summary, there is always so much going in this series. Not only do we see the ‘sudden departure’ from each of the main character’s viewpoints, we are also treated to a timeline that is constantly jumping back and forward…. often with little to no context or warning.

Cast – Justin Theroux is an absolute powerhouse throughout this series and his performance is built off an outstanding supporting cast (who all deserve nominations if you ask me, which you didn’t, but if you did).

Setting – Over the three seasons, we are literally taken around the globe as we go from New York to Texas and then to Melbourne, Australia. It seems there were no expenses spared, which is a testament to The Leftover’s ability to keep things fresh.

Just watch it.