120+ Hours of “Lost”: Why do we do this to ourselves?
Last night, the series finale of Lost aired concluding 6 seasons and over 120 hours of episodes. If you’re looking for a review of the finale or of Lost in general, then you are in the wrong place. This is not a post about my feelings on the finale, but rather my realization that I had spent over 5 entire days watching a television show that was ultimately unsatisfying. This is not the first time I’ve had this same feeling. I watched all 86 hours of the Sopranos only to be left with a blank black screen and a feeling of “wtf just happened.” Hell I watched 2 1/2 seasons of Nip/Tuck before my sense of shame and “The Carver” forced me to move on. Come to think about it, The Wire (greatest television show ever and this is not debatable) is the only show that comes to mind that didn’t leave me with an odd feeling of regret after the finale.
I know I’m not alone here. Nip/Tuck went on for 2 1/2 more seasons after I bailed. That means that at least one person somewhere was so into bad stories minimally connected to plastic surgery that they spent nearly 100 hours of their lives watching them on television. Obviously many more watched Lost and the Sopranos from the beginning only to be at least somewhat disappointed at the end (if you claim to like the end of the Sopranos, you are a rotten liar). The question is, why?
It’s easy to argue that watching a show provides a sense of community. This may be true for “water cooler shows” like Lost or the Sopranos, but that doesn’t explain the shows that seemingly no one is watching. When is the last time you heard anyone talk about shows like Law and Order? That show has had 450+ episodes spread out over 20 seasons. That is almost 3 full weeks of television, yet no one ever asks if you watched last night’s episode or what you think will happen next. There is no community feeling, yet it has been on for 20 years. 20 years!
So, how would you explain it? Why do we do this to ourselves? Are we just so easily manipulated into needing to know what happens next, that we will watch countless hours of shows that may or may not be actually entertaining? I have a feeling its the latter, which makes me feel even worse about that Nip/Tuck phase. Maybe now that Lost is over I can dedicate that one hour a week to something productive. Ah, what am I saying? Treme, you and I have a lot of catching up to do baby!