Lost, found, lost

Here’s something I wrote for the paper about the end of (perhaps meaning of) Lost. More important, here’s the Owen Freeman illo that went with it. Only, when it came time to run the essay, the powers that be decided to run it on A1 on Friday, where we would just never ever run an illustration. (Then again, who would have ever thought deepish essays about TV would ever be on the front page of the Washington Post, either?) So, Owen’s art went with a “Lost”-releated story by Jen Chaney on Saturday’s Style front instead. The best laid plans, etc. — I’m glad it saw print.

But now I’m bringing my piece and the art back together the way that we intended.

"Lost" illustration (c) Owen Freeman for The Washington Post

"Lost" illustration (c) Owen Freeman for The Washington Post

‘Lost’ or not, we’re still at loose ends

By Hank Stuever
The Washington Post / Friday, May 21, 2010

“Lost” exhausts. It was a vacation in hell, our own wonderful hell, a “Gilligan’s Island” getaway for our nervous, crisscross-wired culture. A bunch of fictional characters clad in grimy gray Gap T-shirts tromped all over the hills and jungles of an illusory, magical isle — a place that represented about a thousand different metaphors. America, it’s so obvious: Millions of you loved “Lost” because you feel lost.

It’s been a long six years of goose chases and mash-up mythologies. It was filled with ultimately irrelevant numerology and hieroglyphics that mostly turned out to be set decor. It was tall pirate ships and utopian VW buses; literary references to everything from 19th-century philosophy to “The Empire Strikes Back” to Holy Communion wine.

As it lugubriously ends Sunday night on ABC, “Lost” leaves us more or less where it all began, but also with a spooky idea of the 21st century thus far. It was the perfect show for our frustrated ’00s era, in which no one had to answer for anything much — not for the real estate and Wall Street busts, the levee floods, the bad war intelligence.

While we fought elusive enemies in distant lands; while we vanished down our personal, broadband rabbit holes; while we doubted our elected officials; while we spent ourselves into impossible debts, “Lost” was along for the ride, with its unsolvable puzzles and its exhilarating but dorky extremes of fandom culture.

Though ratings steadily declined since “Lost’s” debut in 2004, the show held a firm grasp on some 10 million viewers (roughly half of the average viewership of the two most popular shows on TV, “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars”). Like anything these days, it survived on the passion of its niche audience, which skewed young and tech-savvy.

” ‘Lost’ is in a class by itself,” ABC’s programming chief, Jeff Bader, said this week. “It is the most successful cult show ever.”

But enough now. Enough with the instanalyses blogged and updated and tweeted late at night — or, more fittingly, during the next afternoon in cubicles all across the so-called American workplace. This is not one of those “Lost” farewells that goes over it and over it one more time. No charts, no diagrams, no last-minute theories.

Instead it’s a farewell to a feeling.

Read the rest here!

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