The show, based on a book by Tom Perrotta (one of my favorite authors), was developed for television by Damon Lindelof, of Lost fame. It takes place in a world where an unexplained “Departure” has seen 2% of the world’s population disappear without explanation. Think of the Biblical Rapture, but affecting people of all faiths (and no faith).
The story isn’t about those who departed, but those who remain (the titular “leftovers”) and how they deal with the event. It’s a show about faith, family, love, loss, forgiveness, redemption, all those grand things. It’s also darkly funny, profoundly strange and one of the most moving works of art I’ve ever seen.
I’m going to leave it at that. The show was criminally under-watched, so I’m assuming most people reading this aren’t fans. I encourage all of you to give it a try. Three seasons, just 28 episodes, only a few more than one season of Lost.
I’m still processing the finale, but I can say without reservation that this is one of the greatest television series I’ve watched. Breaking Bad, of course, sits at the top of that list. Friday Night Lights, Mad Men and this show are jockeying for the second spot.
One more quick shout-out. The Leftovers‘ lead actors — Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon — are revelatory. Especially Coon, who has to be my favorite working actress right now based on her work here (and a winning turn on the current season of Fargo).
Finally, the show’s score, by Max Richter, is brilliant. The piano theme featured today, in particular, slays me. It plays under some of the series’ most devastating moments and always brings them home. Fans have taken to playing this theme over scenes from other shows and movies to give them extra impact.