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10 Best Lessons The Good Place Taught Us

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Somewhere Else" Episode 213 -- Pictured: (l-r) D'Arcy Carden as Janet, Manny Jacinto as Jianyu, Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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For a show focusing on what happens after death, it sure has a lot to teach us about life.

The Good Place was bursting with lessons and teachable moments that were thrown at us in a variety of ways: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason’s experiences in the faux Good Place, Chidi’s philosophy lessons, Michael’s trial-and-error of understanding humanity, and several hundred Janet reboots.

Not all of the lessons were equal but they were equally as important, and we’ll forever be grateful that the show put them on our radar and helped us become better people.

Join us in reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned from the best, smartest, and most well-written show of the 2010s.

Lesson #1 – Whatever you think you know about your life, you’re probably wrong.

Time after time we thought we had The Good Place figured out, only for it to pull the rug out from under us again and again. Take a moment and you’ll notice the same thing tends to happen in our real lives. Did you schedule out your entire week? Too bad an ant colony is planning an invasion on your kitchen Wednesday. Did you finally find the best pizza in the city? Just wait until you find out it’s a drug front. Think your successful friend is trying to help you move up in the office? Sorry, he’s actually an evil demon relentlessly torturing you.

The Good Place taught us that not only are things not always what they seem, but that reality is not even close to what we think. Apples to oranges is really more like apples to your insurance card. So get ready to roll with the punches and stay on your toes – you never know what’s coming next.

Lesson #2 – Change is possible, but it’s work.

Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason each had to change themselves if they wanted to earn a spot in the Good Place. It wasn’t easy, though. They had to continually work at improving over 800 years of time, with demons, both personal and literal, trying to drag them down. But they put in the work and time to improve, and most importantly, they didn’t leave each other behind.

They never jumped on each other from slip-ups or told the other they were worthless because they were bad people in the past. They worked hard, both individually and together, to change for the Good. Even Michael, the demon who began the series torturing them, became a force for good, and if Michael can do it, so can you.

The Good Place Lessons

NBC/The Good Place

Lesson #3 – Just because you think you’re a good person doesn’t mean you are.

Chidi and Tahani both completely believed they had earned paradise, as did our recent buddy Brent in season 4. Unfortunately for them, they were secretly in the Bad Place all along, proving definitely that just because you think you’re a good person, doesn’t mean anyone else does. Tahani and Brent both need some more self-awareness and a better understanding of what being “good” entails, but Chidi only ever had the best intentions at heart and he still constantly caused pain and dismay to those around him through his indecision. We certainly took a look in the mirror after these revelations, not to make sure we were good people, but to find out what parts of ourselves weren’t good and how we could adjust them.

Lesson #4 – We make our own meaning.

Whether it’s helping other people, partying like there is no tomorrow, or building a relationship, we make our own meaning in life. The humans of the Good Place are perpetually screwed, and yet they continue helping each other, comforting each other, laughing together, and building their bonds. When demons are coming for them, they celebrate. When they’re bound for hell, they spend time trying to save others from the same fate. When they discover soulmates aren’t real, they make them anyway. When everything seems lost in our own lives, we think of The Good Place to remind us that we can find a purpose in all that madness, and be our best selves in the process.

Lesson #5 – Almond milk is bad for the environment.

When Chidi discovers he’s in the Bad Place, he believes he knows the reason: he drank almond milk despite knowing it was bad for the environment. We never knew this, but have totally removed almond milk from our diets ever since. Chidi was initially derided for believing this was the reason he was sent to the Bad Place, but we’ve learned in the back half of the series that small, seemingly inconsequential transgressions (such as drinking almond milk) are contributing to the mass rejection of humans from the Good Place. It’s difficult to be good in a world that has become so complicated that the simple act of drinking almond milk loses you points, and we’ve been on the lookout for the unseen consequences behind our innocent actions ever since.

The Good Place Lessons

The Good Place/ NBC

Lesson #6 – Own who you are (even if it’s a Jaguars fan)

While change and betterment were at the core of The Good Place, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason only made progress at becoming better people when they acknowledged and accepted their flaws.

The four humans weren’t bad people, per se, they were simply products of their environment who oftentimes let their insecurities get the best of them. But those qualities also made them unique and valuable. They were just “bad enough” that they could change, but they also needed those qualities in order to change. Change requires acknowledgment of the problem, acceptance of those flaws, and the desire to become better. The humans did all of that and wore their flaws like badges of honor to improve and grow in the afterlife.

Check Out Our The Good Place Gift Guide for All Your Afterlife Swag

However, improvement never required them to become different people. They channeled their flaws and turned them into positives. Even after becoming better, those fundamentals of who they were and what made them the characters we love were still there; Eleanor’s raunchiness, Chidi’s indecisiveness, Jason’s simultaneous dopeness and dopey-ness, and Tahani’s need for approval. Their experiences came in handy many times when dealing with demons and trying to save the world ie. Eleanor’s wit and skepticism were instrumental in continuously cracking the mystery that the Good Place was really the Bad Place. It was because of who they were that they were able to make such strides in the afterlife, flaws and all. 

Lesson #7 – Empathy goes a long way 

When the series began, Michael was a demon from the Bad Place who enjoyed causing pain to the four humans, but as time went on and he grew closer to the humans, he began to learn and understand what it meant to be human. He became empathetic to their experiences, their struggles, and their desire to change.

The best example of this is when Michael agrees to help them get to the judge so they can present their case of why they deserve to be in the Good Place. When he realized they only had four badges to get through the portal, he told Eleanor that he finally solved “The Trolley Problem” and sacrificed himself by putting his friends first. He understood how hard they’ve worked to become better people and knew they deserved a shot at proving it. 

In a similar fashion, Janet, an animatronic guide, also learned to be human. After more than dozens of reboots, she becomes an all-knowing entity that not only knows all the answers to every question in the universe but also starts to understand the human experience. She begins to display human emotions like love (mostly for Jason)  she understands feelings of sadness, happiness, and everything in between, and she has the capacity to put herself in someone else’s shoes. Compassion and empathy are at the core of what makes us human. 

NBC/ The Good Place

Lesson #8 – Frozen yogurt really is delicious

Michael rebooted his neighborhood many times after it seemed to fail, but one thing that was constant was the frozen yogurt shops. Michael put it in there as a form of torture, but let’s be real, frozen yogurt is hardly torture. As Michael explained, humans excel at “taking something and ruining it a little so you can have more of it,” and it may not be ice cream, but froyo is delicious in its own right (fight me).

In fact, the invention of froyo single-handedly proves humans are geniuses and thus, froyo should be eaten and enjoyed in abundance. If there is an afterlife with an unlimited menu of flavors, that’s enough to convince us to be our best selves every single day. When Eleanor confronts Michael about all the froyo shops, he even admits it by replying, “I’ve come to really like frozen yogurt.”

Lesson # 9 – Know when it’s time to let go and move on

In the second to last episode of the series, Ted Danson’s character Michael realizes that he’s fulfilled his purpose. He went from being a demon who tried to innovate the torture experience for humans sentenced to the Bad Place, befriended them, became a better person, and built a new afterlife system with their help to save all of humanity. Initially, he tries to sabotage Vicki from taking his job but eventually accepts that she’s better at it than he is and hands over the reins, which is a key lesson.

Related: The Best Episode of The Good Place Is… “Best Self”

It’s imperative that one understands when their path has run its course, when it’s time to walk away from something that no longer serves them, or when it’s time to find something new and challenging.  Now, Michael is walking into the unknown and not knowing what waits for him on the proverbial other side, which is scary, but it’s also a necessary part of life. As humans, we are constantly reinventing ourselves and searching for our next journey. Sometimes, there’s magic with accepting and “going with the flow.”

Lesson #10 – If it’s meant to be, it’ll be

No, I’m not singing the Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha song, although, it is fitting. I’m talking about trusting that whatever is meant for you will find you. Soulmates don’t exist in the afterlife, but that never stopped Eleanor and Chidi from falling in love and finding each other over and over again after almost 800 reboots. They were meant to be, it was written in the stars, call it whatever you want, but they always found a way back to each other, even if they didn’t have their memories.

At one point, the only thing Chidi was ever sure of was his love for Eleanor. When he made the sacrifice to get rebooted to save all of humanity, it’s because they both believed that they would be reunited again. It’s the very simple idea of trusting what the universe has planned for us and not trying to control your destiny. When Michael was trying to succeed with his neighborhood, he did everything in his power to prevent Chidi and Eleanor from meeting and finding each other and somehow, they always did. Okay, cue the FGL + Bebe song, baby. 

Catch up on all episodes of The Good Place now

Written by: Tommy Czerpak and Lizzy Buczak


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Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

Katy Keene

Katy Keene May Be Part of the Riverdale Universe, But It’s Far Removed From the Dark Murder Series

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When you first heard about a Riverdale spinoff, I’m willing to bet you didn’t think it would be a series revolving around the fashion and music industry, but that’s exactly what you get when you tune into The CW’s Katy Keene. 

Devoid of murders and darkness, the series (based on the Archie Comics), spearheaded by Lucy Hale in the role of the titular character, shines bright amidst the supernatural vibes of its sister shows, Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the oftentimes supernatural lineup embraced on The CW.

In place of those murder mysteries that tend to envelop the residents of Riverdale, Katy Keene sets the stage for a coming-of-age tale that propels themes of hopefulness, following your destiny, and chasing every opportunity.

Some of us might say — the ones that were old enough to have watched Gossip Girl and Sex and the City when it aired live, anyway — that the series is the younger sister of those fashion-centric show, and fills the void they left behind quite nicely with its bubbly depiction of New York’s elite, always-on-the-go, and hook-up heavy aesthetic. 

But don’t be fooled — the show’s optimistic outlook doesn’t mean it’s without its fair share of drama.

Like Riverdale, Katy Keene relies on a formula of convoluted mysteries and twists, and it thrives on throwing its characters into unpredictable and messy situations, albeit, with less murder and serial killers. 

And New York, much like Riverdale, can make or break you in a minute; it can snuff out that very hope it evokes and destroy the opportunities it’s made possible until you’re left feeling more alone than ever.

Katy Keene focuses heavily on its ensemble cast — heavier than Riverdale at times — giving each of its characters a storyline to dig into. 

The circumstances of the Big Apple  —  rent as tall as the skyscrapers and the competitiveness of its inhabitants — brings Katy, an aspiring fashion designer, closer to Jorge/Ginger Lopez (Johhny Beauchamp), an aspiring Broadway star, Pepper Smith (Julia Chan), an aspiring business owner, and Riverdale’s finest, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), an aspiring singer.

Much like Riverdale’s core four, this unit relies on each other to navigates life’s up-and-downs. 

For Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, these trials and tribulations tend to consist of dark forces and mysteries such as figuring the identity of the Black Hood, the Gargoyle King, and how to escape and stop an organ harvesting cult, among others. 

Katy Keene, however, offers up a dreamlike vibe while showcasing real and more relatable issues of navigating your upper 20s with the focus being on every millennial’s struggle to juggle the pursuit of a dream career in an overpriced city alongside a romantic life. 

Alex says it best — you’re no one in this city without money — and thus, a lot of the drama revolves around financial situations. 

Read the full post at TV Fanatic! 


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Editorials

Lost Discussion 10 Years Post-Finale: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What Should’ve

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Lost_Exodus

Lost finished airing 10 years ago on May 23, 2010. Join Jillian Pugliese and Tommy Czerpak as they take a look back at the groundbreaking series that helped usher in the golden age of television, and discuss why we love it (and what we think it did wrong).

Tommy:  Hi Jillian, fellow Lost lover. Thanks for joining me for this discussion. Can you believe the finale aired 10 years ago already? Did you watch it live?

Jillian: Nope, I’m a latecomer. I was only eleven when the show finished airing, and I don’t think anyone that age would’ve been able to keep up with it. I watched the series for the first time about three or four years ago and fell in love. It’s an insane show, but it’s incredibly addicting. I binged the series in a couple of weeks, and have rewatched it several times since. What about you? Were you always a fan?

Tommy: I was! I watched during its initial run. It was an incredible time to be a fan because internet discussion had just started to take off but streaming and DVR hadn’t, so while we had places to go online and discuss (may the imdb Lost message board rest in peace), everyone still tuned in at the same time every week. Each airing was an event we all watched together, which really promoted discussion. Television hype is so wildly different now. Not everyone watches everything at the same time with streaming and DVR, and I wonder how Lost is received by someone who was able to take advantage of the more recent methods of media consumption.

Lost/Exodus

Lost/ABC

So I’m curious, since you watched Lost right in the middle of the golden age of television that it helped launch – How did you decide to watch Lost amongst all the other great shows nowadays?

Jillian: I started watching Lost mainly because everyone always said it was too hard to keep up with. The legacy of the series isn’t its innovative forms of storytelling or usage of symbolism. It’s remembered for being the show that no one could follow. I took that as a challenge. So, I started to watch it on Netflix (sadly it’s been taken off since) and got lost in the world of Oceanic Airlines and The Dharma Initiative.

Lost can be quite convoluted at times, and there’s definitely plot holes within it, but because of how I watched the series I was never lost following it. I’d imagine if I had to wait months in between seasons I would’ve been much more confused. But getting to watch season four right after the big twist of the season three finale kept me invested. If Lost came out on a streaming service I think people would’ve stuck with it for longer. 

Waiting for episodes to come out would’ve been particularly frustrating when it comes to filler episodes that did nothing to move the plot along (think Nikki and Paulo). But instead, I was able to power through until I reached a compelling storyline that I cared about. 

Finale Comparison: Did Breaking Bad Really Have a ‘Stronger’ Finale Than Lost?

For 2004, the pilot of Lost still holds up really well. You can sense that it’s from the early 2000s based on how the characters speak to each other, but it’s not so dated it’s unwatchable for future generations. I don’t think some of the plotlines would fly nowadays, especially in regards to the way the show treats women at times, but it still manages to be an example of what a great television show can look like.

How do you think Lost holds up ten years later? Was it ahead of its time?

Tommy: I rewatched much of the series last year; parts of it hold up incredibly well, parts of it don’t. When Lost is at its best, it’s still unlike anything on television, even today. I think the pilot in particular is a masterpiece that has yet to be matched. It balances its large cast incredibly well, giving each main member a moment or two to develop while keeping the focus on Jack. It makes clear that the island and its mysteries are merely a gateway to explore the characters through, as each scene throughout the pilot provides some character revelation, whether it’s the kindness of Hurley passing out meals or Kate finding courage during their first encounter with the monster.

It’s a perfect mix of mystery for both the island and the characters, and has shockingly little exposition for a pilot. Most pilot episodes require the viewer to play a bit of catch-up, as they have to be introduced to the world the characters are inhabiting, but Lost has its characters getting introduced to the island along with the audience. Overall, I think it’s a phenomenal piece of work.

Lost_Exodus

Lost/ABC – Photo by Mario Perez

Ahead of its time, though? I don’t believe it was. I think Lost was an exact product of its time and naturally pushed network television forward. The medium had to evolve eventually, and Lost expanded the scope of character work and mythology that a network series could provide. With the rise of the internet and DVR, fans wanted to pause their favorite shows to look for clues and share them online. I think audiences were ready for something new and more serialized – something grander, and Lost filled that need. 

As for its story, it’s a series about redemption, loss, and human connection; age old themes that have existed for as long as storytelling. It’s a (mostly) well told story that has influenced dozens of series with its methods and brand of storytelling since, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as ahead of its time.

For what doesn’t hold up? You nailed it – Lost has a problem with its women. I think Kate is at her best in the pilot and the finale, but in between she’s stuck in love-triangle hell with very little narrative agency. Even Juliet, my favorite female character on the show, gets shafted by the love-triangle juice.

Jillian: My biggest issue with Lost is how they handle Kate’s character. She had so much potential in the early seasons, and the episodes that focused on her backstory were some of the best of the show. But then she started to be written as just a pawn between Jack and Sawyer when they’re struggling for power. There’s some genuinely sweet moments between her and each of the men, but I would gladly scrap any sense of romance from the show to get back the character Kate was supposed to be. 

Lost_ThroughTheLookingGlass

Lost/ABC

As for Juliet, they did her character a great disservice by involving her in the love-square mess in the later seasons. I did really like her with Sawyer, but her final moments on the show surrounded him and specifically her jealousy of his relationship with Kate. She deserved better than that.

I’ve always found it interesting that originally Jack was going to die in the pilot. Kate was the one who was supposed to lead the group. Imagine how different the show would’ve been. 

But for better or worse, we’re stuck with Jack as our lead. I’ve never been his biggest fan. He became more self-righteous as the show progressed, which made him difficult to watch. What’s your opinion on Jack? 

Tommy: I’ve heard a lot of Jack criticism over the last sixteen years, particularly in regards to self-righteousness, and I have to admit that I’ve never agreed with it. I definitely think Jack has some flaws in how he was written, particularly in some of his later flashbacks (such as when he stalks his ex-wife and the obvious, tattoo propelled tragedy of “Stranger in a Strange Land”). His actions in those flashbacks are not pleasant and do him no favors with audience perception.

On island, though, I think Jack is a great character in most instances where the series itself isn’t floundering (such as the love-triangle shenanigans we discussed above). Lost is a textbook example of how to force characters into situations that challenge the specificity of each character: Kate has no where she can run on an island, Sawyer struggles to integrate with the rest of the survivors and overcome his self-imposed loner attitude, Jin and Sun are forced to address their failing marriage, etc.

Jack’s challenge is the strongest, however, because while the other characters’ flaws are challenged, Jack’s flaws are challenged along with his entire worldview. As a surgeon, his approach to almost every problem is through reason and science, and the island throws both of those approaches out the window, essentially giving Jack a crisis of faith (even though that faith is science).

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC

Jack is stuck in his beliefs because to accept that he is wrong is to accept that the island is more than “just an island.” I don’t see that as self-righteousness so much as I see it as fear. He doesn’t think he’s right, he’s living in denial, and I think that’s an important distinction. There are few stronger character moments in the series than Jack immediately denying that the island disappeared moments after he watches the island disappear.

I think this denial most clearly manifests in his desperate need to be involved in saving everyone; he personally has to be the one to hunt down Charlie and Claire, to find Michael – to be the man who gets everyone off the island. I never viewed this as a self-centric “I am the messiah” attitude, I viewed this as the desperate attempts of a man to regain some control over a situation that he doesn’t understand.

If anyone on this show is self-righteous, I think it’s John Locke. That dude sabotaged equipment, blew up the hatch and the submarine, and threw a knife in a woman’s back all because he was right and everyone else was wrong. Asides from trying to control Kate’s actions half the time (which contributes to the major problem in how the show treats its women) I don’t recall Jack ever forcing his worldview on the rest of the survivors – he doesn’t force anyone to leave the beach, he doesn’t actively stop them from pushing the button – so long as their actions don’t threaten the safety of the group.

I think that most people accept Locke’s actions and attitude because he is obviously right about the island, which also hurts the perception of Jack. The audience understands that there is something special about the island, so it’s annoying to see Jack deny it and exciting to see Locke thrive on it. (To be clear, John Locke is an amazing character and truly one of television’s greats).

Of course, Jack has a massive shift in attitude in the last two seasons when he becomes a man of faith and accepts the island for what it is, finally shifting his worldview and providing the show with a strong series arc and statement, which I believe proves his value as the protagonist.

Jillian: I started another rewatch of the show recently, and my goal was to go into it and give Jack a second chance. Sometimes you dislike the main character just because they’re the main character. I wondered if that was the case with him.

But as I got further into the show I was reminded of why Jack rubbed me the wrong way. He was presented to us as our hero, the selfless doctor who’s going to save everyone. That character would’ve been dull, but at least it’s someone you can root for. Instead, as the show went on, Jack went from the archetypal good guy to a man who desperately needed to be in control of everything and everyone.

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC

He had a terrible savior complex that made him unlikeable. He’s not the worst character by any means, but he’s easy to hate. Especially when he’s with Kate. 

I’ll never understand the hype around that couple, when Jack consistently acted like Kate was a project he needed to fix. I know Kate’s widely hated, and as we spoke of before she didn’t really get the chance to reach her potential before being reverted to a plot device, but my main gripe with Jack was how he treated her. He was dismissive of other characters at times (Hurley and Locke especially) but his desire to “save” Kate from herself was nothing if not presumptuous. 

All the characters on Lost are deeply flawed individuals, which is what made the show so interesting. But, characters like Sayid and Sawyer who acknowledged their faults were far more compelling than Jack, who was in denial about not only the island, but himself.

My favorite character has always been Sawyer. He’s a fan-favorite for a reason. He has great character development throughout the series and provides much needed comic relief. 

But I would argue the best character on the show is none other than Ben Linus. He’s the original antihero. He’s introduced as an antagonist and pretty much remains one throughout the show (I’ll never forgive him for killing Locke), but he’s so entertaining to watch. Michael Emerson’s charismatic performance is captivating, and makes him well-deserved of the role of TV’s best villain of all time.

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Tommy: Ben is an incredible villain, and he invigorated Lost in ways no other character could due to the focus he provides for the series. He’s attached to so many of the sprawling plotlines, even if just tangentially, that his existence ends up connecting a lot of loose threads. The Others, the island pregnancy issues, Jacob, the smoke monster/Man in Black, DHARMA – Ben has a direct connection or hand in all of these plotlines, which helps keep the series together, or at least to seem together.

Because Lost can be a mess. Plotlines are picked up and dropped haphazardly at times, some due to behind the scenes logistics and some due to just plain poor writing. At times I think the only two things that hold Lost together are the thematic resonance that’s fairly consistent throughout the series and Ben barely holding the plot threads in line.

The show was frustrating to watch live at points. Mr. Eko is a badass and my friends and I all had so many theories on how his character would shake out, then NOPE.

Done-zo.

So much of the second season feels irrelevant in retrospect due to so many of the tail section survivors biting the dust. I enjoyed the second season my first time through but the lack of legitimate development that comes out of most the new characters that season really hurts it on rewatch, despite episodes like “The Other 48 Days” holding up as single serving episodes.

How do you feel Lost did with its plotting?

Jillian: It depends on the season. Season one was perfectly paced, and set up the storylines for the rest of the show. But, you’re right, season two was pointless. Ana Lucia was built up to be such an important character who ended up having very little impact on the plot as a whole. 

And then the longer the show went on the more filler episodes they included. We didn’t need to know about Jack’s tattoos, or why Nikki and Paulo were on the flight. But mostly, I feel like the show did pretty well with embedding the different aspects of their story together. 

Lost_TheIncident

Lost/ABC

It can be messy at times. Especially in season five. The time travel storyline on the island was somewhat hard to follow, but it ended up furthering the arcs of the individual characters successfully. 

How do you think Lost did with establishing themes throughout its run?

Tommy: Some shows thrive in connecting their storylines to themes subtlety, some are more overt. Lost is more overt, and for a series as grand as Lost is, I think that mostly works. The show establishes its main themes very early on, with the pilot introducing the idea of two sides, “one is light, one is dark,” and just a few episodes later Jack spouts out his “Live together die alone” speech, which may be the most prominent theme in the series. And of course by the end of Season 1 Jack and Locke have the open discussion of what it means to be a man of science vs a man of faith.

No matter how ridiculous or tangential Lost’s main plots become, the show holds together thematically throughout its run. I’m still blown away by how the writers were able to come up with such an effective physical manifestation of the man of science/man of faith philosophies with the button. It’s so on the nose, but it works because it forces Jack and Locke to explore their beliefs. It’s not just a thematic tie, but a challenge for the characters and a plot point to further the narrative.

The flashbacks are also an excellent structural choice because it helps highlight the themes of redemption and letting go, as we see who these characters used to be vs who they are on the island. By using the flashbacks to show us how characters acted in similar situations previously in their lives, we are given hard evidence as to whether or not these characters are growing.

Characters like Sayid continue to torture people, consistently making the some mistakes, while characters like Sawyer seem to sway between improvement and regression, as we see in his decision not to kill the boar in Season 1, but swift disposal of the annoying tree frog in Season 3.

The flash-forwards provided similar benefits in relation to themes, giving us a reflection of how the island changed the characters, but I’d argue that the flash-forwards were a little more dependent on twists and wild setups, such as Sayid working for Ben, than character development, as the skip in time hides what the character development actually is. I love the flash-forwards, and think they were a necessary change for the series that reinvigorated the show (Season 4 is my favorite season, after all, even if it contains my least favorite episode “The Other Woman”). They just don’t tie in to the themes of the show quite as nicely.

The flash-sideways, on the other hand, are almost too closely tied to the themes. I really believe that the final season and the finale of Lost would have been better received if the reveal that the sideways universe was a purgatory of the Losties happened much earlier in the season. Saving that reveal for the end twist may have kept audiences guessing, but it kept us from understanding the context in which these adventures were taking place.

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Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

I enjoyed my re-watch of Season 6 so much more on the second go because I knew that these were really flash-forwards to the afterlife, and I had context as to why Jack was a believer and Locke a skeptic regarding Locke’s ability to walk again. Instead of wondering what happened in Jack’s other sideways life to make him so positive, I could reflect on Jack’s journey throughout the show. Desmond’s journey to reunite the survivors takes on a whole new flavor when you understand that he’s acting on the “live together die alone” philosophy the show spouted enough times to make Rose want to punch Jack in the face.

So while I think the adherence to the show’s themes hurt the flash-sideways in the series’ initial run because the audience lacked the context to understand it, I do believe they are a valid storytelling method and they hammer home the concepts of faith, togetherness, and redemption (Ben’s storyline in the afterlife is one of the best examples of redemption on the show). Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the concept, but I think it works.

Jillian: Lost definitely established itself as the benchmark series when it comes to utilizing flashbacks/flash-forwards to provide insight into their characters. I’ve always been a big fan of the flashbacks especially, because it helps you understand who these people are and how they got to the island. Sawyer wouldn’t be nearly as compelling of a character if we just heard about how he became the man he hated for ruining his life. Seeing him go through that made him much more sympathetic.

Likewise, seeing the heartbreak Locke experienced every time his father disappointed him was intrinsically important to the reception of his character. We can feel the desperation he felt in those moments, and his desire to matter to someone, or something, radiating from the flashbacks. We could never understand the depth of Locke’s devotion to his faith in the island without seeing where he developed that strong sense of faith from. 

When I watched the show I knew what the flash sideways was going into it, and that’s why I loved the final season so much. If I didn’t know, I’m sure I would’ve been more focused on figuring out what the hell is going on instead of appreciating the character details embedded within it. I loved how the series tied up, and I thought the finale was a great conclusion.

However, it left audiences divided. What’s your take on the finale? Did you like it?

Tommy: It’s so interesting to discover that you knew about the flash-sideways prior to watching Season 6. What else did you know of before watching the show? I know we are a small sample size but considering your love for the final season and my renewed interest in it upon re-watch, I wonder how many other people could have benefitted from knowing the deal beforehand.

I have a weird take on the finale, as I constantly find myself defending it despite not completely loving it. Part of this comes from what I said above – I think the flash-sideways emphasizes the themes and characters of the show nicely, but it’s not how I personally would have preferred they tell the story. My favorite part of Season 6 is the lack of information about the Man in Black and his effect on the world should he leave the island, as it truly defines Jack as a man of faith. To me, the fact that there is a definitive afterlife in the Lost universe sort of pulls that away, proving that faith is rewarded, which for me, hurts the theme.

In other ways, however, it strengthens the themes, which is why I find myself defending the finale despite my distaste for some of it. The Losties literally don’t die alone. That’s fairly beautiful, and we get to see characters like Ben make the right decisions in the afterlife because they grew as people in their actual lives. I can appreciate that, even if I don’t like it.

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

Some aspects, though, I just don’t think work. Sayid reawakening because of Shannon? Really? The series depicts Nadia as Sayid’s strongest romantic connection by far, with his love for her spanning the time frames both before and after the island. I don’t want to deny Shannon’s importance for Sayid, but I think I’m just going to. Shannon’s loss was barely felt after her death, especially compared to characters like Alex or Charlie, whose deaths continued to motivate characters like Ben and Hurley long after their demise. Shannon’s death pissed Sayid off for a while, and then Sayid, from a story perspective, just moved on. None of Sayid’s choices or actions past Season 2 seemed to stem from Shannon in any way, so why is she the one he ends up with? 

The reawakenings also reek of clip show to me, which I’m never a fan of. I can understand some fans liking them because they provide a bit of nostalgia but I find them uninteresting for the most part. And the final scene of the church. . .it’s nice to see everyone so happy and together but it also feels a bit preachy to me just by the nature of taking place in a church, even if that church is purposely nondescript. It lasts too long as well, giving me plenty of time to ask where Mr. Eko is and wonder if Walt would be a kid or an adult if he showed up.

My absolute biggest gripe with the finale is its lack of closure for the island itself. I don’t mean answers, I actually think they tried to answer too many mysteries in the final season (the whispers and donkey wheel explanations were lame and I think should have been left unanswered. It’s a magic island for God’s sake. Magic things happen there. End of mystery). I mean the island doesn’t get a goodbye. It’s such an iconic piece of television history that to this day it only needs to be referred to as “the island” to be recognized, and there isn’t even a wide shot of the place in the final 104 minutes.

It irritates me every time I watch it. It makes me want to scream. I can’t understand what happened where the island doesn’t get this final shot. Several characters are flying away from it on a plane and it doesn’t lead to any full view shots of the place????? AUGH. Would this have been so hard???

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Lost/ABC

All the on island stuff, though, I think is pretty solid. I love the ridiculous cork in the center of the island. It makes no sense at all and I love that, because magic island and story about faith. It all works to drive the themes and story home.

Love Hurley taking over the island. Love the numerous callbacks that come about the narrative naturally. Love Christian’s speech to Jack, and love the final shot of Jack’s closing eye. It’s a beautiful wrap up to a story about life, death, and what it means to find faith in others, to let go of your past, and try to be better moving forward. I think the finale holds true to everything Lost as a television show is. Character driven, thematically over-rich, nonsensical, and grand.

I just personally wish it could have found a way to be all of those things without the flash-sideways, but I can’t fault it for not being what I would have preferred. Overall, I don’t think “The End” reaches the heights of Lost at its best, but I also don’t think it’s Lost at its worst. It’s just the end of Lost, and I’m happy with that.

What about you? Did you find any missteps in “The End” or did you love it front to back?

Jillian: Since I knew going into the show there was some type of afterlife aspect in the final season, I didn’t feel “The End” was too rushed in explanations because I understood where we were headed all along.

There’s definitely a level of cheesiness when it comes to the reawakening moments with the couples, but I still loved it. It was sweet to see the characters find each other again, and for all of them to finally find some version of peace. It’s nice when you’re rewatching the show to know that no matter who dies or what happens, they all end up in the same place at the end. 

While that could take away from the narrative impact of character deaths, it’s comforting as a fan. I like being able to watch the great “Not Penny’s Boat” moment and know that Charlie eventually finds his way back to Claire. The choice to have them all literally “die together” was a great way to drive home the central theme of the show, a sense of community. Of course there’s struggles with morality and faith that are more often discussed in analyses of the show, but what makes Lost so great is the relationships between the characters. 

It’s a character driven show, and over six seasons you can become easily attached to your favorite ones. So seeing almost all of them reaching the end of their journey together was very cathartic. 

I also really loved the full circle moment between the final shot of Jack dying and closing his eyes compared to him opening his eyes in the same place in the pilot. It felt like the writers had been planning that closing shot since the beginning. 

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Lost/ABC

I agree about Shannon and Sayid. It didn’t make much sense for them to end up together. All the other couples that had their reawakening moments were much more central to the show. Shannon was barely even in the show, and had very little impact on Sayid’s character arc. 

But otherwise, I think the finale was done really well. It wasn’t perfect, and I still don’t love how Claire was dealt with in the final season, but there’s nothing about it that I have resentment towards. Everyone ended up where they should’ve, and found closure together. 

Except for Ben. But I think it was a really smart choice for him to work to redeem himself further. It wouldn’t have felt right to have him in the church with the rest of the group. 

All in all, “The End” was the perfect end for me

What did the rest of you think about “The End?”Join us in our discussion and comment with your insights, critiques, commentary, and whether or not Jack is the worst!


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Memorial Day Weekend: 5 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch

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5 Shows to Watch Memorial Day Weekend 2020

When some people think of a “3-day weekend,” they think of grilling and spending time outdoors with their loved ones. 

When I think “3-day weekend,” I think 72-hours to binge-watch one of the many shows I have on my “to-do” list. When watching TV shows become a job, they suddenly make their way onto your list of chores. Don’t worry, it’s a burden I’m content and actually quite happy with. 

But enough about me. 

Even if you have grandiose plans for the Memorial Day weekend (and I can’t imagine they would be that wonderful since we’re still in quarantine), you’re likely sniffing around for a new show to feed your eyeballs. 

Well, look no further than this list of must-watch during Memorial Day weekend shows that are all streaming RIGHT NOW! 

 

Outer Banks – streaming on Netflix

It’s a coming-of-age series mixed with a murder mystery that perfectly blends action, drama, emotion, and humor. The series follows the treasure hunt a group of teens living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which they hope leads them to figuring out what happened to the father of ringleader, John B.

 

Hollywood – streaming on Netflix

Ryan Murphy does it again, but this time, he’s trading in murder houses and covens for the golden age of Hollywood. The timeline is post-World War II and follows aspiring creatives who will do anything to make their dreams of making it in showbiz a reality. On the surface, it sounds glamorous, but Murphy does what he does best and pokes the belly to unveil the ugly-side of the industry. 

 

High Fidelity – streaming on Hulu

Considering this is a TV adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name and a TV remake to the critically-acclaimed 2000 rom-com of the same name, High Fidelity had some huge shoes to fill. But we’re happy to report its a worth follow-up and extension of a brand with an established following. In the gender-flipped remake, Zoe Kravitz stars as Robyn Brooks, a record store owner who revisits past relationships with the the help of pop culture and music. 

 

Homecoming – streaming on Amazon Prime

Heidi Bergman works as a caseworker at Homecoming, a facility that helps soldiers with their re-entry into civilian life. She leaves the job to start a new life, but when the Department of Defense begins to ask questions, she must face the truth about what really happened. It’s a slow-burn, but it’s fine when you have Oscar winner Julia Roberts in such a complex role. The second season, which dropped on Amazon Prime not too long ago, drops Janelle Monáe, who wakes up with no memory of what happened and attempts to find her true identity. It’s hard to shake the deja vu at times, but it’s still a psychological thriller worth your time. The good thing is that you can bypass season 1 and go straight to season 2 if you’d like as it offers itself as a limited and contained series. 

 

Little Fires Everywhere – streaming on Hulu

Based on the 2017 novel of the same name, the series gives us some of Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington’s best work as the picture-perfect Richardson family finds their lives uprooted by a mother and her daughter. At its core, the series pulls soap-opera elements, but Witherspoon and Washington bring the gritty storytelling to life as their character layers are peeled back to raise slightly uncomfortable questions and moments. 


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