‘The Leftovers’ Welcomes God And A Sensuous Lion In ‘It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World’

Senior Television Writer
05.14.17 28 Comments

A review of tonight’s The Leftovers coming up just as soon as I go from being a sports announcer to Yahweh…

“Because there has to be a reason!” -Matt

Let me tell you the filthiest joke I knew as a kid:

This guy dies, goes to Hell, is greeted by Satan in front of three doors. Satan smiles and says, “I’m feeling generous today. I’m going to let you pick the room where you’ll be condemned to spend all eternity.” The guy opens the first door, and sees people standing on their heads on a floor covered in shards of broken glass. He opens the second door, and sees people standing on their heads on a hard cement floor while a taskmaster whips and beats them. He opens the third door, and sees a group of people standing knee-deep in excrement, drinking coffee.

“Yeah, I’ll take the third door. I can learn to handle the smell,” the guy tells Satan, without a moment’s hesitation. Satan asks if he’s sure, the guy nods, and Satan disappears, laughing.

The guy wades into the room, pours himself a nice tall cup of joe, and is just about to drink it when a taskmaster walks in and screams, “Okay, maggots! Coffee break’s over! Back on your heads!”

Like that one? Okay, here’s another that may sound more familiar:

There’s this guy. He has devoted his entire life to telling people about the wonders of God, even though his relationship with the Almighty hasn’t been the healthiest.

When he was 10, he was so envious of the attention his baby sister was getting, he asked God to give him some of it back, and God responded by giving him a nearly fatal bout with leukemia. And still he believed, and still he tried telling others about God. When he was a teenager, his parents burned to death in the family home while he and his sister sat on the curb watching, him insisting the entire time that their parents weren’t suffering and this was all part of God’s plan. This guy grew up to be a charismatic and influential reverend, preaching a gospel that would then be forever undermined when a random two percent of the world’s population vanished in a way that went against any scripture he’d ever read. Worse, one of the people who vanished did so while driving his car, which crashed into this guy’s wife, rendering her permanently catatonic, according to the doctors. So now the guy became obsessed with spreading the good word that many of the Departed were bad people, and received many punches to the face for his troubles, and lost his church itself to a new cult that had sprung up and already started picking off members of her rapidly-dwindling flock. And the guy’s focus changed, again, to saving the souls of the members of this cult, none of whom wanted saving — at least not until they lit the town on fire metaphorically, and the town responded by lighting them on fire quite literally.

At this point, the guy quite wisely decided it was time for a fresh start, and now his religious fixations turned to what had improbably become the safest, holiest place on the planet: a small town in Texas where nobody Departed. The guy went there for what was supposed to be a brief visit, and was stunned when God granted him a miracle on his first night there: his wife woke up and made the sweetest of love to him. But once again, God was like Lucy Van Pelt with the football, and the wife went back to her catatonia — somehow pregnant, even though they’d never been able to conceive before her accident. This guy told his loved ones about the miracle, and they of course thought he was both crazy and a sex criminal, and as penance for his many sins, the guy wound up doing time — some of it fully nude, in stocks on top of a taco truck — in the tent city outside of town, separated from his wife and unborn son. Still he suffered, and still he believed, and still he preached, and after all of that, he was again rewarded when she woke up for good, told others the truth about the night the baby was conceived, and gave birth to a healthy boy.

This guy should have been happy. He should have been content in his family and in his faith. His miracle wife and miracle son had made him a charismatic and influential man of the cloth once again, but he became convinced that the town was the only reason both were okay, and he forbade them to leave until she decided to go, for good, and take the boy. And this guy’s belief has refocused — again — on a family friend whom he has decided (with some decent evidence) is the new Messiah, only the friend has no interest in the position and flees to Australia rather than playing whatever his appointed role is for what our guy has decreed to be the most important day in the history of creation. So this guy follows him halfway across the world only to get stranded on a boat filled with the most sinful of heathens, and it’s there that this guy meets…


Who is really kind of a jerk.

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