HBO's New Show 'The Leftovers" Features A-List Cast, Compelling Story, and Yet Something Still Isn't Right
HBO specializes in seeking to push the envelope with the subject matter they face in their list of hit series, and yet they do not seem to have slipped up yet, however unlikely the show's premise may appear. With fantasy sagas such as 'Game of Thrones,' scandalous historical drama such as 'The Tudors,' and gritty crime shows such as 'True Detective,' HBO has not let us down yet. However, its new series 'The Leftovers,' which features both a compelling storyline and an A-list cast, seems to be met with mixed feelings by the viewing community.
The series is based on the "Notable Book' award-winning novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, and was adapted to the screen by Damen Lindelof, the mastermind behind the dramatic must-watch series 'Lost.' It possesses a promising cast, featuring Justin Theroux as the local police chief, Liv Tyler, and Christopher Eccleston. So what's the problem here?
Much like the "Left Behind" series of novels that debuted in the mid-1990's, 'The Leftovers' deals with the aftermath of an event that seems quite similar to the Rapture, where two percent of the world's population disappear into thin air, leaving no trace behind and no clue as to what may have happened to them. Rather than focusing on the event itself (the show spends only the opening scene depicting that aspect), 'The Leftovers' focuses on those left behind, three years after their loved ones have disappeared. The result is a depth of pain that is difficult to stomach, with all of the emotions of betrayal, loss, guilt, and grief played out in full color.
What is absorbed one way on the written page may be absorbed (or not) in a totally different way when it is conveyed on screen. For anyone who has experienced loss or grief of any kind, 'The Leftovers' strikes a nerve - and perhaps not in a good way, despite the excellent casting and promising story depths. While consumers seem to enjoy experiencing alternate realities, fantasy worlds, and gruesome crime scenes, their capacity to stomach something as eerily realistic and simultaneously nightmarish as the world that 'The Leftovers' creates is yet to be seen.
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