Damon Lindelof’s new Rapture-y HBO series, The Leftovers, debuts June 29, and as part of the run-up to that premiere, he gets the full-on profile treatment in the latest issue of the New York Times Magazine. The piece is good, and probably worth a read in full when you have 10-15 minutes, especially if you, like me, find Lindelof fascinating. He’s such a singular figure in television. He was one of the first quote-unquote celebrity showrunners in the Internet age, first riding the high of the intense fan devotion/obsession with Lost at the beginning of the series, then facing the intense backlash from insane fans after the finale. All of which the profile covers.
But first things first: In addition to even more background on the show, and a promise from the piece’s author that it is “lovely and scary and haunting” and “full of overtones of sadness and undertones of magic,” Lindelof says this about The Leftovers…
“ ‘The Leftovers’ is not constructed as a cliffhangery show,” Lindelof says. “It’s not built to be like, oh, my God, we’ve got to watch the next episode immediately. But at the same time, it is built so that when one episode ends, you want to keep watching the show. So by virtue of that, [we are] finding the spirit of: Well, what will make someone excited to watch ‘The Leftovers’ this Sunday night?”
… which sounds like he has either learned a lesson from Lost, or is intentionally trying to do things a little differently. That’s understandable, especially considering that he’s still hurt by the way that all ended, even years later.
Lindelof was devastated. He’s a zealous consumer of culture writing, and those critics who blasted “Lost” were ones he otherwise respected and agreed with. He tried not to care, to remember that he loved the ending and maybe that’s all that should matter. “But it’s like no, that’s not all that should matter,” he says. “I didn’t make the [finale] up in my head and sit in my room and basically weep and applaud myself for having designed this great TV show in my brain. I put it out on the airwaves for millions and millions of people to watch, with the intention of having all of them love it, and understand it, and get it.”
And he also discussed his decision to quit Twitter, noting that people flooding his timeline to yell at him after the Breaking Bad finale was the straw the broke the smoke monster’s back, so to speak.
“I do not like the feeling that I experience when people talk about how much ‘Lost’ sucked. I can no longer acknowledge it. I spent three years acknowledging it. I hear you. I understand. I get it. I’m not in denial about it. That said, I can’t continue to be this persona. I can’t continue to acknowledge you, because acknowledging you invites more of it, and it really hurts my feelings. Nobody cares that my feelings are hurt. It’s my job for my feelings to not get hurt.”
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth restating now: People who are still so angry about the Lost ending today — FOUR YEARS LATER — that they feel the need to attack Damon Lindelof about it are the worst kinds of fans in the world. For the love of God, it was a TV show. Relax.