Jun 3, 2014

Faith and science struggle on TV

The underlying human crisis of "The Leftovers" -- a new HBO series where something like the Left-Behind rapture, but not quite like the Left-Behind rapture, has happened -- is a crisis of ambiguity.

What do you do when you don't know what to do?

For the show's co-creator, this is also the struggle between science and faith. Damon Lindelof tried to get at this theme when he was writing the TV sensation-turned-disaster, "Lost," and he returns to them now, in a show about life in the aftermath of ambiguously natural/superatual event.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes in the New York Times:
'The Leftovers,' like 'Lost,' is filled with recognizably Lindelofian characters: people conflicted by the tension between faith and science and burdened with a desire to do good in a world that doesn't make doing good all that easy. Lindelof himself exists as a kind of Lindelofian character, too: a boy born into a home that is ultimately destroyed by the struggle between faith and pragmatism. His father, who never told him he was special, departs, and the boy moves into the space he once occupied. The father, who has remained distant, dies, and the man is torn between his mother's faith and his father's lack of faith, so much so that he creates a TV show about it. It stars a doctor who is cast away on an island and asked to lead a group of people, struggles, but eventually learns that he was built specifically for just this challenge.  
But Lindelof doesn't live in a Damon Lindelof world; he lives in this one. And in this world, there's no way to stop people from reminding you of all the ways you've failed them, even when the perceived failure is long past.
The pilot episode of "The Leftovers" airs June 29.