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Although this HBO series is only three episodes into the first season, it shows great potential.
The show takes place three years after 2% of the world’s population inexplicably disappears into thin air and follows the lives of those who are left dealing with the pain, anger, and uncertainty caused by the event. While the show addresses the idea of the Rapture (when God takes some people to heaven and leaves others behind to deal with the tribulations on earth), it is not certain that that is what happened and every character seems to have their own interpretation.
Needless to say, life on earth is forever altered by the events of October 14th (interestingly we are not given a year). Just to provide a few examples, Kevin Garvey (played by Justin Theroux) lost his wife as a result of the disappearance, but not in the way you may think, a large cult called the GM, which stands for the Guilty Remnant (what that means is still yet to be explained) was established in the aftermath, and a local minister loses his wife, his church, and it seems his mind too.
Unlike post-apocalyptic shows or movies which usually portray an unrecognizable Earth in the aftermath of the event, The Leftovers addresses something much scarier – emotional devastation but not physical devastation to the earth or the human race. Yes, they lost 2% of the Earth’s population, but considering the fact that the world population is at 7 billion, that leaves many behind. Not to mention there was no great war or even physical evidence left to explain the devastation. People disappeared but the world is still standing and life is still going on. People get up, they go to work, and they come home. Not drastically different except for the fact that no one (not even the government) knows how to address the event or if/how to prepare for another occurrence.
If this new twist on an old concept isn’t enough to get you hooked, then Justin Theroux’s impressive performance should be enough. Knowing nothing about Theroux other than his engagement to Jennifer Aniston, I had low expectations, but the end of the first episode made me a fan. Theroux’s ability to show such a range and mixture of emotions – anger, frustration, doubt, loss, weakness – all in the same instance finally solidified the character, and really the show, for me.
That isn’t to say the show is without some questionable choices. Firstly, the title of the show is just awful. When I heard the title before hearing the premise, I thought it was going to be a family drama/comedy following a teen’s suburban life and their comedic struggles. Obviously I was wrong, but the title leaves a little too much to the imagination and since its name is also the word used for stale food sitting in the refrigerator, it’s not very eye-catching or intriguing. Secondly, I’m very confused by Liv Tyler’s presence in the show. Her acting is mediocre at best which isn’t helped by the very grating character she plays. Her presence definitely pales in comparison to Theroux’s.
The Leftovers has definitely raised more questions than answers so far and has yet to determine a cohesive trajectory, but its thought provoking premise and the anticipation of the big reveal of the cause of the events of October 14 have me hooked.