On Sept. 22, 2004, six years ago today, ABC aired the pilot for Lost. Perhaps you heard of it. We wrote about it once or twice here at the website. The basic gist: serialized TV series, filled with mystery but committed to a strong emphasis on character, about plane crash survivors marooned on a tropical island pocked with remnants of a horrible history, patrolled by a tree-tromping monster, and prowled by a poorly-mannered polar bear. (In defense of the polar bear: Fishbiscuits; mate-deprived; sunny paradise overload. I’d be pissy and petulant, too.) Lost was an instant hit, and was soon declared a pop culture phenomenon. The only thing hotter during the 2004-2005 TV season was another ABC rookie: Desperate Housewives.
What made Lost so compelling to so many people? Take a moment before answering–it’s a trickier question than you realize. It always has been. The Lost fan community has never been a homogenous culture. It has always been a confederation of distinctly different tribes, and from the very beginning, they have often clashed with each other over what Lost was and what it should be. There were the fans that loved the show for its mysteries, and wanted Lost to be all about them. They resented the flashback device from the start and called for its disposal, deeming it a gimmick whose only purpose was to produce filler content that could delay mystery-resolution for as long as possible. But then there were the fans that loved the flashback device because it nourished the part of the show they loved the most: the characters. These fans actually worried that giving too much time to The Monster and The Numbers and The Others would produce too much weirdness, too much backstory to remember and carry forward, too much impersonal “mythology” that would cost the show its humanity. Others loved Lost for its post-9/11 metaphor of a culture recovering from catastrophe, while others loved it for its vision of a melting pot world. These fans hoped the show would remain the gritty, ensemble-based survival drama. But then there were those who located Lost’s profundity in how it dramatized the clash between scientific and spiritual worldviews. These fans wanted Lost to let its geek flag fly and indulge the sc-fi/fantasy stuff… although, even within this camp, there were was a division between those who wanted answers rooted in real world physics and those who were open to contextualizing everything within a mystical or religious framework.
Of course, there was a place where all fans could meet in the middle. READ FULL STORY