Monday, December 14, 2015

LOST - American TV Drama



I spent late August through early December binge watching on Netflix like I never have before. I've decided I like binge watching better than week to week episodes, for the same reason I'd rather sit and read for an hour than just ten minutes. The more I do in one sitting, the more engrossed I become in the story. Much like a series of books takes over and resides constantly on my mind, so did the 2004 - 2010 American TV series Lost these past few months. It was good timing. With my reading slump, work schedule, and family life, I wanted nothing more than to lazily, easily get caught up in a good story in my free time.

If you're not familiar with the premise of Lost, read it here. Plenty of people had recommended the show, but what finally made me watch it was a video made by the writers of the show, where they discuss how it was based off of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. A hug fan of Campbell's study, I teach the Hero's Journey to my students every year, regardless of grade or ability level. That video was all I needed to jump right in. I was in good company as my husband and a couple of our best friends watched and compared notes too.

And what is the Hero's Journey? (You didn't really think I'd discuss TV without teaching an English Literature lesson too did you?) It's a pattern found throughout most stories, dating centuries back through the present. Not every story contains every step and steps aren't always in exact order, but most steps show up and usually in a similar order. The goal of the journey appears as one thing (in Lost, getting off the island), but it's always self realization and growth. It's amazing to think of all the different minds across centuries telling stories that are essentially the same in many ways. The interconnectedness between stories, ultimately a display of relatable humanity, is what I love most about them.

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Anyway, Lost was quite a ride. Every episode presented a mixture of personalities duking it out for survival. The mysteries of the island and the people themselves often created more questions than answers. In fact, for every question an episode answered, about five more questions popped up. But I loved it. It was always entertaining, never dull, and the characters amazingly drawn. It was easy to feel love or hate for them and often I found myself going back and forth between emotions on the same character! By the end of season one (of six), the character I'd started out disliking was my favorite. I had a couple I liked more than others, but definitely a favorite - Sawyer. Sarcastic, always ready with a quick pop culture jab, he brought quick comic relief to even the most serious moods. Plus he was reading in every episode and wasn't bad to look at at all!

Which is another cool aspect of Lost. The placement of the books Sawyer read on each episode was purposeful. Whichever book Sawyer is shown reading, that book relates back to the happenings in the episode. Various characters also allude to famous literature constantly. For example, in season three, episode 14 (Expose) the high school science teacher Leslie Artz says of Jack and Kate, "The pigs are walking! The pigs are walking!" Which is a line from Animal Farm, pertaining to the power hungriness of those animals on the directly attributed to Jack and Kate, two characters in charge on the island. I also noticed allusions that may have been unintentional, such as Jacob and his twin, the man in black, who is never given a name, but seem to be a close remaking of the Bible's Jacob and Esau.

And the ending? (HERE'S THE BIG SPOILER) I had so many commentaries from previous watchers and although no one spoiled the ending, people were definitely for or against it. Those who did not like it said there were too many things left "unknown." And it seems many mysteries remain. This is simply my opinion, but those who didn't like it, don't know their literature and it's their loss. In the end, the "surviving" passengers of Oceanic 815 find out they never survived the crash. They've been dead all along and together their particular spirits have been working through some issues before moving on. (The assumption being that those who didn't "survive" the crash were already in a place to move on to what awaits after death.) Other people who show up on the island had died and come there before or even after and were traveling the same journey. The finale shows them coming to this realization and ready to "move on."

What does this have to do with knowing literature? The Hero's Journey of course. Every journey has an ending, whether it is simply to move on to another journey or the final end. Either way, the ultimate boon is learning about yourself and the world around you. Their spirits lingered on this made up island to work through issues and heal emotions. It's about allowing knowledge gained through trials to change you, make you better than what you could've ever become without the journey. That's life isn't it? One big Hero's Journey.

Who has another series I can watch to fix the #showhole?! After I read a bunch of books that is!

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