Movies & TV

Why ‘The Leftovers’ Is The Greatest Television Show Of All Time

The Leftovers Is The Greatest Television Show Of All Time.

This is not an opinion. It’s a fact. Just like choosing to willingly eat the trail mix without M&M’s in it makes you a serial killer.

Not an opinion.

Fact.

Listen, I know this is a bold proclamation, especially there being only a total of 13 episodes out in the world. I can already hear the male 18-34 demographic yelling “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad” at me on street corners, but hear me out.

In case you don’t know, The Leftovers (based loosely on the excellent Tom Perotta novel of the same name, read it!) takes place in a post “departure” world after 2%, or about 140 million people, of Earth’s population disappears with no explanation. Something I wouldn’t mind happening to all 25% of GOP voters currently supporting Donald Trump.

The best argument I have is structure taking precedent over content, something rarely, if ever, seen in television. The content of The Leftovers dips darkly into themes such as coincidence versus fate, new religions (or rather cults) popping up to make understanding of traumatic events, and what exactly constitutes as the end of the goddamn world. And it’s exactly how all of this is presented to the audience which makes it stand out from other critically acclaimed dramas. I often liken the shows framework to that of a poem, where the limited elements are the bigger picture.

Since the first season, we’ve mainly followed The Garvey family throughout their hectic journey to come to terms with the supposed rapture. But what’s so brilliant about The Leftovers is that there are full, hour-long episodes devoted entirely to one character’s story arc, sometimes characters not even considered “main.” No other show is or was bold enough to do this. Breaking Bad didn’t do it in 62 episodes. The Wire didn’t do it in 60. Lost didn’t do it in 121. And Game of Thrones has yet to do it in 50. The only other show that has come close to this is The Walking Dead, but even they break before the full hour is up. This forces the devastating storyline to marinate onto viewers, never giving them a chance to look away or essentially breathe.

I recognize this kind of viewing isn’t for everyone and is not considered very “entertaining.” That’s why The Big Bang Theory averages 6.9 million viewers while The Leftovers brilliant season 2 premiere garnered in the mere 700,000 (Also, 6.9 million people I wouldn’t mind being raptured.) But an even better example would be True Detective, a show also dealing with heavy content, but infinitely worse in more aspects than one than The Leftovers, yet averaging over 3 million viewers at it’s lowest. This, of course, due to the fact that it’s presented in a way that is conventionally entertaining and shiny. The Leftovers never felt the need to do this, and in its sophomore season, still doesn’t. It overwhelms, disorients, and the narrative is so tight the design is able to come forth and be driven by emotion rather than plot.

The bottom line is, watch The Leftovers, especially if you’re a human being who every once in a while is like ‘Woah I’m alive.’ It is so far, in the dumb year of 2015, where we have shows about the undercarriages of boats and wives of mobsters, the only thing to save us. If it’s not recognized now, remember this post in ten years when everyone is proclaiming it the best show of all time.

And because I can’t resist–

BONUS LEFTOVERS OVERARCHING SERIES THEORY

Let it be known that I still firmly believe all the people we see on screen are ACTUALLY the people who departed. Thank you.

P.S. If you don’t 100% agree with this post, you will be the first to go in the rapture and we will not miss you.

The Leftovers Airs at 9pm Every Sunday on HBO and Can Be Streamed on HBO Now

 

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Julianne Neely

Julianne Neely