Over on Interview magazine, they got together several high-profile showrunners, including Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan, to talk about “How to End It All.” Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) talk about the endings of their respective shows, the reaction from the audience, and their own feelings about both ending their shows and dealing with the reaction, specifically on the Internet.
Gilligan, for his part, is his usual humble self, praising the other showrunners and downplaying his own show, like he does. He didn’t really offer much new by way of insights, however. Alan Ball’s contribution can be basically summed up as “Don’t read comments on the Internet.” As usual, in interviews like this or any other, it’s Damon Lindelof that is the most compelling. The sense you get anytime Lindelof talks about Lost is that it was a show that kind of beat him down, that he really struggled with weight of churning out 22 episodes a year and trying desperately to meet audience expectations when, with a show like Lost, he was basically in a no-win situation.
It’s really what I dig about Lindelof: He had so much passion for that show, and I really think he still feels a little bummed that he couldn’t provide the ending the audience wanted, although there really was no ending that would’ve satisfied everyone, or even half of everyone (I’m somewhat concerned that Gilligan may be faced with the same predicament). At least he’s got a great sense of humor about it.
At any rate, when talk turned to Internet criticism, Lindelof admitted that he read coverage on the Internet after the Lost finale, and while he could blow off some of the Internet commenter criticism, he was stung by the reaction of some critics that he respected, and especially bummed about George R.R. Martin’s comments.
LINDELOF: It wasn’t just trolls who were doing it—it was television critics who I appreciate and admire. There was also George R.R. Martin. When a reporter asked him about the ending of Game of Thrones, which was still three books away at the time, he said, “What if I f*ck it up at the end? What if I do a Lost?” He also said he felt like the ending of Lost was like someone leaving a big turd on his doorstep. That was the hurtful part because there is an implication that everyone knows what you mean by “do a Lost,” and by his definition, it meant basically taking a sh*t on the doorstep of the audience, which we’d never do … I mean, we talked about it. [all laugh] But we never followed through.
GILLIGAN: That’s unfortunate. I can’t imagine …
LINDELOF: He loves Breaking Bad, though.
GILLIGAN: Until I take a sh*t on his doorstep.
BALL: I think we all know what we’re doing tonight! [all laugh]
Man, that does suck, to be called out by another writer. You know what, though? At least Lindelof gave us an ending, on schedule. It may not have suited everyone, but by damn, he wrote one. He cranked out 121 hours of television in seven years, and I feel like part of what is holding George R.R. Martin back from finishing A Song of Ice and Fire is the same fear Lindelof must have had of disappointing his audience. At least Lindelof confronted it.