Nothing captivated audiences across America in the mid-to-late aughts like the show Lost. The broadcast became a cultural phenomenon early in its run before petering out six seasons later, but for those who hung on Lost was must-see TV. Those who didn’t make it through the Lost marathon likely abandoned ship due to the myriad of issues accompanying the show. With those issues in mind, many may look back on the show and wonder “what if?”
I began watching the show in the middle of the second season, about the time when I was ready to graduate from kids shows to something catering to a more adult audience (maybe 12 years old?). I was hooked for the same reason most viewers were. While at first the plight of stranded plane-crash victims was enough to spark initial interest in the show, the continuous discovery of mysteries about the island they crashed on was the fuel that fed the fire. Unfortunately, the number of mysteries continued to mount, while the answers to viewer questions were few and far between. This became the main complaint among viewers, especially as the show veered further and further into the bizarre. Some things were wrapped up during the final season, but by then it was too little too late.
Despite the issues the show faced, I stuck with it to the bitter end. I may not have agreed with every artistic decision, but the show still had me hooked. I was heavily invested in the plot and characters and had to see how it ended. I haven’t seen many episodes of the series since watching the finale in 2010, but I’m sure that I’m due for a marathon binge at some point.
I do believe that Lost has been one of the major influences on me as a writer. Being obsessed with the show at such an impressionable age and having that obsession drawn out through my formative years allowed for it to create a permanent spot in my imagination. While Lost made some mistakes, what it did well it did really well. Things like repeating symbols throughout (4 8 15 16 23 42, a string of numbers I can still produce from memory) and a focus on character development no matter the main plot are some of the biggest things that have stuck with me.
The most influential concept that I’ve kept from Lost, however, is that of finding and embracing just the right amount of bizarre and running with it. The best parts about Lost were when things got a little crazy, but in a way that made sense. Going off of the rails just to make a plot super crazy can make a reader/viewer lose their focus and interest (if there are going to be polar bears on a tropical island there better be a good reason). When writing stories now I always try to think of adding just a dash of oddity to keep readers on their toes; it keeps the protagonists in trouble and the plot more interesting.
Lost will always have a special place in my heart. Sure, the time travel and smoke monster may have been a bit out there, but there are many redeeming qualities about the series. It’s definitely worth a watch if only for a lesson in plot management.