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How the Strengths and Flaws of Lost Changed Television

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There is so much good television on right now. I am constantly hearing about new series that I should be watching. The range of entertainment has never been wider. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, drama, whatever you want, you can find it and find it in good quality. As the options expand and the base quality continues to rise, it gets harder and harder to catch up on series that you may have previously missed, and inevitably some shows get lost in the shuffle.

Which is an apt way to describe my fear for Lost. I fear that Lost will get lost in the shuffle.

Not immediately, of course, as few shows currently draw such vitriolic opinions. Lost is still gripping our pop culture today whether through homage or insult; sometimes the hero and sometimes the punch line. I once told a buddy whom I had watched the series live with that my friend had started Lost and his only response was, “She’ll be disappointed.”

It’s a common emotion to have regarding Lost as a show: disappointment. I myself was disappointed by Lost in many ways, both on my initial watch during its original airing and on my recent rewatch. The show makes many mistakes in its run, but we cannot discount the impacts that it had on television and the culture surrounding it, and not in spite of these mistakes, but because of them.

The immediate impact of Lost is obvious. High concept shows exploded out in the years following its release (Flashforward, Heroes, Fringe). Production values went up. HD became standard. Exotic and beautifully shot locations became more prevalent. Acting talent skyrocketed, with major actors coming to television. Flashbacks and flashforwards, heck messing with time in general, became commonly seen on mainstream television (How to Get Away With Murder). And casts grew wider and more diverse. A lot of what made Lost stand out is less spectacular in retrospect because it popularized or made these aspects commonplace, with many shows surpassing it in some of these areas.

Lost_Exodus

Lost/ABC

That fact, along with the obvious mistakes Lost commits, makes watching it in hindsight a little less impressive. Not tiny issues, either, such as missed character beats or a few forgettable episodes. These are episodes and moments so bad that they are unforgettable. Pacing issues so horrendous that the network finally caved to the writers and gave them an end date. And then there is the finale.

The biggest “mistake” of the show that fans and nonfans point to is the finale. I’m not going to reiterate here what can be found being discussed in 4,815,162,342 places on the internet today, but I will talk about who is discussing it.

Lost revealed a type of fan that has pervaded the medium ever since. Discussion about a show had never before reached the levels of discussion when Lost was airing. How could it have? The internet was just beginning as a platform for social media, and Lost was the first show of the internet age to be so conducive to internet chatter.

Due to the unprecedented nature of Lost as the most discussed television show ever, the amount of investment viewers put into the series went well beyond the 44 minutes they dedicated to watching each week. And with investment comes a feeling of ownership. Viewers felt Lost owed them a good ending. Before 2010, most shows dwindled out of existence after years of decline in quality or were unceremoniously canceled before having the chance to grow. Endings for these kinds of shows were often accepted as “good enough,” or a “decent way to wrap up the series.” But when Lost came around, a shift took place from, “I sure hope this ending is good,” to, “This ending better live up to my expectations or I will declare the last six years of watching this show a waste of my life.”

Lost_Exodus

Lost/ABC – Photo by Mario Perez

The fans that were disappointed by the ending have carried that with them ever since. When Breaking Bad came to its finish in 2013, three years after the Lost finale, there was an army of fans who tweeted out about how Breaking Bad’s finale is “how you do an ending,” jabbing at Lost and its coolly received send off. They were vocal enough that Damon Lindelof (a writer and creator of Lost) wrote a column about the continued consequences of his finale. I think a lot of these fans felt that the shows were on even ground, and therefore it was fair to say how Breaking Bad outdid Lost.  They were not on even ground. Lost had to go first into the raving depths of the people of the internet and try to satisfy everyone. It was uncharted territory, and regardless of whether or not you think the finale was good or bad, it charted the map for other series to follow. Breaking Bad got to learn from Lost’s mistakes, so I sure HOPE it was better. It has no excuse not to be. (Sidenote – “The End” > “Felina.”)

Not only was Lost the first to dive into the “owed finale” age, but it also carried the disadvantage of being set up by a somewhat shaky foundation. With the amount of storylines that had to be created to extend the series and the number of mysteries that were set up, there was no easy way for the ending to pay all of that off. Being given an end date for a series was a privilege the Lost writers had to fight for. Subsequent series such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones were created with no intention to last forever. They may not have had the ending planned or decided years in advance, but they also didn’t have to spin their wheels for multiple seasons stretching out a story and then be forced to wrap up all those improvised storylines with the originally intended ones. They could successfully build to a single climax because they were planned to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Yet the Lost writers had this to say back in 2004, “We’re in the dark ourselves in terms of how quickly to unfold the mythology. We don’t know if the show will go for four years or six years. The best way we deal with it is to not look too long term.”

So the wheels spun. On-the-fly storylines and mysteries were thrown in, and the show got messy. Yet the failure of Lost’s middling middle seasons paved the way for networks to start allowing shows to plan an ending.

So let it be known how much of this golden age of television has been brought to us by Lost’s inadequacies. Meandering storylines have been cut down with shorter episode orders, which are much more common today, and even shows with longer episode counts have learned how to pace their seasons better in the wake of Lost’s horrific Season 3 pacing. Mystery shows have a better balance of questions and answers. Some studios are more willing to allow creators to have some leeway. Series are created with the intention of an ending, and NOT to go on forever.

Lost_TheIncident

Lost/ABC

Lost is also influencing the industry in ways that we can’t even consider, even in shows bearing almost no resemblance to it. Lost proved that a massive, 10 million plus count audience would watch something with a large cast of characters, subtitles, a ridiculously complex mythology, and ongoing serialization with multiple timelines that demanded complete attention, and that these audiences wouldn’t just tolerate but encourage these ideas and create discussion and interest. The influence of Lost isn’t just in what creators take from it, or the lessons they’ve learned; it is a subconscious effect that has pervaded the industry since its airing. Broader, genre-bending ideas have become more appealing to both audiences and studios. It raised the bar for production value on television, for directors and actors, and for the scope of projects put into production. No studio head today is saying, “Oh, I’m going to throw millions of dollars at this fantasy dragon show because Lost had a high budget and it was successful.” They say, “I’m going to throw millions of dollars at this fantasy dragon show because it’s a good idea.” But would they really think it was a good idea if millions of people didn’t tune in to watch shenanigans on a magic island for six years?

Yes, I am implying that Game of Thrones owes part of its success to Lost. Does anyone really believe Game of Thrones would have aired in the 90’s? What changed?

There were fantasy shows and sci-fi shows well before Lost. Lost very obviously takes ideas from these shows and series. But Game of Thrones level epics? Genre-bending shows like Westworld? I wish Firefly would have aired after Lost did because I believe it would have not just found a greater audience, but Fox would have been more willing to give it a chance and let the episodes air in the proper order.

Even currently, shows like Manifest are drawing close comparisons to Lost, not just for its airplane disaster premise, but for the interlocking mysteries, characters being drawn together by a greater force, and even recurrent numbers. Less similar shows, like The Good Place, draw from Lost’s sense of mystery and flashbacks. Wrecked is a parody of it. We could go on.

Lost can be a punch line today. It’s mocked for its finale, its sometimes grating characterization, and its plethora of unanswered questions (but come on almost everything was answered). But do we mock the Wright brothers for only getting a few feet off the ground on their first attempt? Especially when there were moments where that flight absolutely soared. When Lost is at its best, there is still nothing like it.

So for future generations, when and if they watch Lost, I hope they realize they are witnessing one of the first flights into the golden age of television. I hope they know that in all likelihood their current favorite show owes at least something to Lost. And I hope that they don’t dismiss the show based on its missteps. After all, Lost took the biggest steps into the new age of television and left a permanent footprint on the industry, even if those prints have since been covered by the many series since that have followed in its wake.

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Lost/ABC


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Editorials

Things We’re Thankful For At CraveYouTV: 2020 TV Edition

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TV Show Things We're Grateful for in 2020

2020 has put a lot in perspective.

While it’s easy to say that it’s been a terrible year, it’s also been a year that has allowed us to reflect on and appreciate all that we have.

It’s the kind of year where we recognize all that we’re thankful for… and really mean it. 

To celebrate the holiday, CraveYouTV has put together a list of some of the TV-related things we’re grateful for this year: 

  • For shows slowly but surely coming back after the COVID hiatus. It was a hard few months without new content, but we’re grateful they’ve found safe ways to resume filming.
  • For McDreamy’s brief return on Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, that alone could’ve made 2020 somewhat bearable.
  • For the second season of Virgin River coming to bless us this Thanksgiving.
  • For Tayshia Adams taking over the reigns from Clare Crawley and making The Bachelorette more tolerable this season. 
  • For 15 grand years with Sam and Dean on Supernatural. The finale wasn’t to everyone’s liking, but it gave us all closure. It was bittersweet to say the least. 
  • In general, for the ability for shows to have proper endings and finales. It’s always nice when a network lets a show sign off on its own terms. 
  • For the ability to watch older shows! With less airing on TV and streaming, it’s given us a chance to re-watch some oldies but goodies. 
  • For the well-crafted mysteries on The CW’s Nancy Drew
  • For medical shows tackling the real-life COVID pandemic to raise awareness. 
  • For Rio (and Manny Montana) on Good Girls
  • For Emma Corrin’s portrayal of a young and troubled Princess Diana on The Crown. The role came with plenty of criticism, but she took it in stride and gave an outstanding performance. 
  • For Atwater’s powerful stance against racist cops on Chicago PD. He’s one of the best characters to grace our screen. 
  • For Netflix expanding its holiday movie universe and giving fans some hope at a possible holiday movie crossover in the future. We’re looking at you Princess Switch 2!
  • For The Masked Singer putting the fun back in masks! 
  • For a two season renewal of Cobra Kai returning in January 2021. 
  • For The Mandalorian season 2, and Baby Yoda in general! We can’t get enough of the little guy.
  • For the Star Wars Lego Christmas special on Disney+.
  • For a second season of The Boys, a series that continues to intelligently skewer super hero fads while simultaneously reveling in what makes them fun. 
  • For a new season of The Great British Bake Off to heat things up. 
  • For the new trend of movies being released on streaming and in theaters at the same time. 
  • For The Good Place endings its four season run on a beautiful, melancholy note. 
  • For the entire Rose family on Schitt’s Creek. And that they finally got the recognition they deserved during the Golden Globes. 
  • For the 40th season of Survivor, which gave us some of the best gameplay with the greatest players ever!
  • For Netflix’s revival of Money Heist, which let the thrilling adventures of The Professor and his gang continue!
  • In general, for Netflix allowing us to watch TV shows from all over the world and in many different languages! 
  • For Fallon Carrington’s wit, sass, and style! 

We’d love to hear from you! What are you grateful for? What would you add to the list?

And now, we hope you don’t take this personally, but we’re going to take this day off to enjoy a delicious meal and some much-needed R&R with our immediate families. We hope you do the same! 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CraveYouTV!


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Netflix

Yes, That Is Queen Amber from ‘A Christmas Prince’ in ‘The Princess Switch: Switched Again’

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Everyone loves a good Easter egg. 

It’s always a treat when a show that exists in the same “realm” includes a few nods to its sister show simply to appease audiences. In its last season, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had plenty of Riverdale references that delighted fans. 

And The Princess Switch: Switched Again was no exception. 

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Aldovia’s Queen Amber (Rose McIver), King Richard (Ben Lamb), and their royal baby from Netflix’s A Christmas Prince franchise all made a small cameo at Lady Margaret’s coronation in the Princess Switch sequel. 

Credit: Netflix

The brief appearance further entwines Netflix’s holiday movie universe in a way that has fans questioning if it could possibly be teasing a future crossover movie! 

Just imagine Princess of Belgravia, the Queen of Montenaro, and the Queen of Aldovia all working together to save Christmas!

If you think about it, it makes sense. Royal’s from other countries have long formed alliances and often interact for both business and pleasure, so thus, Queen Amber’s appearance during Montenaro’s was completely justified and necessary!

A crossover would be one epic Christmas offering; the only thing missing is Her Majesty Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia! You know we had to. 

However, some fans were confused as to how all the films were connected since in the first Princess Switch, Margaret and Kevin actually watched A Christmas Prince in the film. 

As one CraveYouTV reader pointed out, maybe they were streaming a “documentary.”

Netflix did give some clarity explaining that The Knight Before Christmas (also starring Vanessa Hudgens), Holiday Calendar, The Christmas Inheritance, and Holiday in the Wild are also entangled in the Christmas Movie Universe. Here’s how: 

“It felt like a natural fit to show one of our other films available on Netflix,” Amanda Phillips Atkins, EVP of production company MPCA that produced the films, shared about the connections. “That one seed of an idea soon turned into fun opportunity to tie the various worlds together with small easter eggs from movie to movie.”

Regardless of whether a crossover is on the horizon, seeing Amber and Richard was a sweet treat for fans of Netflix’s robust Christmas collection during a time we need it the most! 

Read our review of The Princess Switch: Switched Again now. 


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Editorials

Best Tweets About the ‘Grown Men’ Group Date From Tonight’s ‘The Bachelorette’

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The Bachelorette Season 16 Episode 6 best tweets

The Bachelorette Season 16 Episode 6 pitted the men against each other. 

Ashley Iaconnetti Haibon and Jared Haibon made a cameo to host the “grown-ass men” challenge. 

See the best tweets from tonight’s episode including all the #Bennett love/hate. (He was trending early in the night on Twitter!) 

https://twitter.com/prairieparsons/status/1328867124434116611?s=20

https://twitter.com/amirelesjr/status/1328870062783160320?s=20

https://twitter.com/petersgolfcart/status/1328875550237216769?s=20

https://twitter.com/kellie__mariee/status/1328895155923980289?s=20


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