Sophomore Jump: How The Leftovers Became the Best Show on TV

One of the most significant consequences of #PeakTV is that viewers don't have the time or patience to wait for a show to figure itself out or course correct after a bumpy first season. If your show doesn't initially grab the attention of the audience—or does so for wrong reasons—you're fighting a very steep uphill battle to change the perception, even if critics are in your corner. For shows like Halt and Catch Fire or Tyrant, the apathetic response to Season 1 meant that few people cared to return to improved second seasons (though the ratings for the latter are much, much better than those of the former). 

But the response to HBO's The Leftovers was more than apathy; I'm generalizing, but viewers seemed to really love or really hate the show's first 10 episodes about the aftermath of a mysterious (and generally unexplained) event that removed 2 percent of the world's population. Even as a member of the former camp, I had a number of reservations about Season 1 and totally understood the more negative responses littered in the comments here and around the web. I also therefore understand why, if you disliked Season 1, you probably haven't returned to the show this fall. Plus, there's just one episode left in Season 2 (it airs this Sunday at 9pm; I'll have a review for you), it's the end of the year and you have a lot happening in your life, so chances are low that you'll jump to blitz through many hours of a heavy show that you didn't like in the first place. 

Nevertheless, I'm here to tell you that, at some point in the near future, you should catch up on The Leftovers. Specifically, I'm talking to those of you who dropped out in disgust or frustration at some point in Season 1. Here are three key reasons why the show is better in Season 2 and so very much worth your time, #PeakTV and all. 


THE SEASON HAS CLEARER FORWARD MOMENTUM

Showrunner and internet punching bag Damon Lindelof has been very candid about some of the issues with the first season and similarly forthcoming about giving the second a more obvious "spine" story-wise. But it's one thing to say, particularly in pre-season interviews, that you're going to do something to make the show better; it's another thing to execute that plan effectively. The Leftovers has done that. 

Much of Season 1 concentrated on characters' response to an event that had already occurred, mostly off-screen, which provided the show the opportunity to navigate complex, touchy, emotional territory. It did not, however, involve the kind of active, propulsive, forward momentum that most people expect from their TV shows. Characters weren't doing a whole lot and the threats and goals were more internal than external. Even the show's nominal antagonist group, the Guilty Remnant, was mostly defined by their frustrating (and story-wise, purposeful) inaction. 

The show is still dedicated to that complex and touchy emotional exploration, but Season 2, from the beginning, has indeed been held together by a clearer spine—the ever-present mysterious ongoings in Jarden, Texas, and the disappearance of a few teenage girls—with recognizable, external obstacles for the characters to overcome. Plus, moving to Jarden forced the Garvey-Durst-Jamison crew to interact with new people in a new space, automatically producing novel conflicts between characters. 

These shifts have enabled The Leftovers to tell stories about the characters actively making decisions that have immediate consequences. The disappearance of the teenagers shot most of the cast into action, with Erika (Regina King) and John (Kevin Carroll) searching for their missing daughter Evie (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Kevin (Justin Theroux) and Nora (Carrie Coon) trying to understand their untimely connections to said disappearance. There's still tension between and across the respective pairings, consideration of what Kevin's lingering psychotic episodes might mean, and bigger questions about loss, recovery, and blame, but it's all presented in a slightly more consumable way for people who want their TV shows to function like almost every other TV show.

It's the same story for those associated with the Guilty Remnant. Having escaped the Guilty Remnant's grasp, Laurie's (Amy Brenneman) story has been the most active, or perhaps combative, of the season. Her attempts to "save" or assist others in the transition out of the Guilty Remnant hasn't gone especially smoothy for her, her son Tommy (Chris Zylka), or most of the people they've aided. Meanwhile, the one key remaining member of the Guilty Remnant, Meg (Liv Tyler), has rebelled against the group in her own way, creating an extremist offshoot that's much more interested in—you guessed it—doing things. One might argue that the occasional presence of these characters has made their stories less successful, but for me, there's been just enough time spent with them to illustrate significant change in the characters' motivations and how the show presents them to us. That shift makes up for the lack of time spent with Laurie and Tommy, and especially Meg, who in the penultimate effort, was revealed to be the season's Big Bad. 


THE MYSTICAL AND/OR SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS ARE UTILIZED WITH PURPOSE

The notable thing about The Leftovers is that its central conceit, the Great Departure, is never going to be explained. Of course, that doesn't keep certain segments of the audience—especially those with some Lost-related baggage—from hoping otherwise. Still, the second season has done a much better job of using some of the oddities and fringe elements of the universe author Tom Perrotta, Lindelof, and the rest of the creative team have established to tell compelling stories, instead of simply serving as backdrop or window dressing for existential crises or emotional breakthroughs. 

Yet again, the move to Jarden has been revolutionary for the show in this regard. Whereas the Mapleton, New York, setting was full of depressed, broken people desperate for answers, the novelty of Jarden—confirmed to be the only town not affected by the Departure—immediately provided wonderment, intrigue, and just straight-up weirdness. From the way the town and its citizens have responded to the lack of departures to the settlement of oddballs, kooks, and true believers on the outskirts of town just hoping to make it one day, there's a bit less soul-crushing portrayals of post-Departure life. 

Moreover, in the parts of The Leftovers that are still relatively bleak—the girls' disappearance and Kevin's crippling psychological issues, most notably—the questions being asked about potentially supernatural or mystical developments are potently targeted towards particular ends. Evie and company's disappearance toys with what happens when a Departure-like event occurs in the post-Departure world. It's both a mystery in its own right (and one fantastically answered in the aforementioned penultimate hour) but also a vessel for the show to consider how people might begin to project their beliefs or assumptions about what happened with the Departure onto a secondary event. 

While the reveal about the disappearance therefore doesn't answer anything in the macro sense about why anything happened in the first place, it wasn't just unanswerable mystery for unanswerable mystery's sake. We now know why this occurred, as well as what's likely to happen because of it. And in some way, that Evie and her friends didn't actually depart was an answer to a big question the series' characters have been asking: will this happen again?

Speaking of happening again, Kevin's mental breakdown, right? Though his issues made for riveting television in Season 1, the purposefully disjointed nature of what happened during the sleepwalking didn't always make for coherent or consistently satisfying television. This season, The Leftovers simply embraced the truthiness of Kevin's condition. He lost his mind. Getting with Nora didn't fix it. Moving to Jarden, Texas, didn't fix it. Patty (Ann Dowd) was still there, talking him nearly and almost literally to death. 

To support this already strong story, the show smartly ratcheted up the supernatural nature of it all—with a framework for answers in place. So yes, how Kevin dealt with his Patty problem is absolute madness. But the show laid the proper groundwork to bolster the internal logic of those developments. Before Kevin agreed to Virgil's (Steven Williams) seemingly nutty plan, it presented us with clues about the burial/resurrection process. "International Assassin," the episode in which most of this occurred, was nearly perfectly executed in how it reinforced these pre-existing rules through a wildly interesting conceit and punctuated by 17 episodes of emotional distress leading to legitimate catharsis. 

Lindelof has always been good at withholding information until characters in his stories learn it. In the first season, very few people knew anything about what happened to them, and most certainly had no idea why it happened. That made for compelling TV, but also didn't allow one of the medium's best storytellers to do what he does best. The Big Answers might never come on The Leftovers, but the show now knows to create smaller mysteries or raise different questions that it can address along the way. 


SPECIFIC CHARACTER-CENTRIC EPISODES GIVE EVERYONE SOME ROOM

In Season 1, episodes like "Two Boats and a Helicopter" and "Guest" parsed the sprawling story down to concentrate more on individual characters like Matt (Christopher Eccleston) and Nora. For many viewers, those episodes were the season's best, not just because Eccleston and Carrie Coon were amazing in their respective hours, but because that singular focus permitted the show to dive deeper into broken people that weren't Kevin or the Guilty Remnant. 

Here again, Lindelof and company learned from what worked (and what didn't), shifting Season 2's structure to weekly character-centric episodes driven by the experiences of one or just a few characters. This shift enabled The Leftovers to toy more with perspective—including a dizzying season premiere that jumped into the Jarden story with brand new characters—and circle back to important events from multiple angles throughout the season. It also predictably gave so many of the fantastic performers individual showcases, which works so well in the favor of a show that is, fundamentally, just two people talking to one another. 

Though some have grumbled about the way this structure forces the show to sideline characters for long stretches of the time, I'd posit that temporarily marginalizing Laurie, Tommy, and Meg removed some of the weight of Mapleton and the Guilty Remnant that sunk portions of Season 1 and kept the spotlight on the more compelling oddities in Jarden. Similarly, this approach enabled the show to sneak Meg and the rebellious sect of the Guilty Remnant's evil plan through the back door without it coming entirely out of nowhere. Checking in with Tommy or Meg for a couple minutes each week, per normal HBO operating procedure, wouldn't have produced the same kind of shocking impact as last week's episode did. 

The Leftovers won't ever be a significant hit, or a show that speaks to millions of people. But it is one of the best shows on TV, and one that greatly improved on what was already a strong foundation. More than anything else, Season 2 illustrates that when given the chance, shows can find themselves or discover better ways to present themselves to the audience. Let's hope that HBO gives the show additional chances in the future.

The Season 2 finale of The Leftovers will air Sunday, December 6 at 9pm on HBO.


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Dec 05, 2015
the leftovers is the best show...ever! quality tv...
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Dec 05, 2015
Have you watched The 100 through the end of Season 2? If you have, and you still call The Leftovers the best show on TV, then I may have to check it out. If not, then you should really watch The 100 and see what you think after that. (Season 2 is great on a level far beyond Season 1, and the show takes a few episodes before it becomes clear that it's more than just a show for teens.)
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Dec 05, 2015
I have! Love the 100 though.
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Dec 05, 2015
Part of me is kinda happy to see this show get a little of the love that it deserves, but tbh, the bigger part of me sorta wants to facepalm over it.

In the past week or two, I've caught a handful of cast interviews on talk shows while channel surfing, or glancing at guest descriptions by pressing the info button...enough to understand that the Leftovers is in the midst of a promo tour.

It didn't get facepalmy for me though, until I watched a Justin Theroux interview on the Kelly & Michael show.

I get that deep down, even the most milquetoast mainstreamer has a twisted/tortured side they just gotta vent, but imho, it really irritated me to see my favorite 'outside the box' TV show get marketed to an audience that defines the box itself.
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Dec 05, 2015
While not the best show on TV (Fargo is), in my opinion, it is fantastically made and the cast really helps the wonderful writing shine.
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Dec 05, 2015
I loved season one, and I'm enjoying the second season even more. I was planning to do reviews to spark some discussion but I was on holiday until three episodes into the season and by that point I was playing catch-up (not only with The Leftovers, but a plethora of other series).

I agree the character-centric episodes were the standouts of season one, but what I like that they've done in season two is that even though episodes heavily feature one central character they're still interacting with a lot of others so that story/ character progression isn't limited to one character or plot. Meg's episode last week was also a very important episode for Tommy, for example. I think they've really worked on that balance between character and story, probably much in part to Damon's work on Lost.

And I just have to say that I loved 'International Assassin". I'm usually quite conservative and/or logical minded when it comes to enjoying storylines on television - so an hour spent in a character's purgatory as he fights to come back to life is not something I would generally like, yet The Leftovers made it work. The mystical/ supernatural elements that surrounded the series may never be explained, but there's no reason they should be when their discussion and exploration leads to masterpieces like that episode. It was completely captivating and believable within the series' universe.

Here's hoping there's a season three that can continue to dissect the characters left behind.
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Dec 04, 2015

I made a few calls. Turns out that my brother bought the blu-rays of the first season. He was stupid enough to lend them to me. I ripped the whole thing on my server farm (everybody needs a hobby) and voila here we are. There are things that don't add up. (lol) If it is true that only 2% of the population disappeared it isn't very plausible that in the first scene not only the baby was gone but also the father of the kid and the driver of that car disappeared. But it isn't impossible either only statistically unlikely. It's only 1 in 50 people. That's very little.
and then this:


ROFL (sorry animal lovers) Totally makes sense right ?

It's a dark comedy.


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Dec 04, 2015
Well, definitely not the best show on TV, in my view. Actually, odd one and one that didn't quite pull it off.

I always suspect Damon Lindelof is a mediocre writer. After nonsense of Lost's final season (and actually all the rest Lost seasons after promising first one were a mess) I don't expect anything great and innovative and consistent from that man.
Lindelof can't write good mystery story, imho. All he does in Leftovers is pompous mediocrity. I cant get what is happening in 2d season and I don't even want to. Coz it's all so contrived and pretentious in its attempt to look mysterious and thought-provoking. It's ridiculous.

Best proof of this notion is the episode where character of Justin Theroux is trying to kill a woman that troubles him as a ghost in previous episodes. So it seemed that he was put into some kind of hallucinatory state by some sort of wizard or shaman and he was told in this dream to kill Patty as a child and by that way he could get rid of her as ghost in real life. It was metaphorical hammer! What a banality. It's like Lindelof has no imagination at all if he does these simplistic metaphors and symbols. International Assassin was the most ridiculous episode along with episode that involved Meg (Liv Tyler's character).

I think it is the lack of education on part of Lindelof. Its kinda american superiority (that just cultural ignorance essentially) that dictates him to write such a pretentious scenes and such quasi-intellectual plotlines. Adding more murky and weird stuff in your show wouldn't make it more interesting or thought-provoking it would just make it more odd and unintelligible. And laughable with that hammer-like metaphors. It's like writers don't know what they are doing.
Vagueness and pretension of the episode with Liv Tyler's character bores you down after 10 minutes. All that all over the place religious (or pagan-like) references are tiresome and ridiculous. One character goes somewhere to say some murky shit with religious connotations to another character, then goes to another place to say some other murky shit to the third character. And that's essentially plotline of this episode. Meg raped the guy, but guy asks her - why she fucked him! That was awkward.
I dont even wanna talk about Eccleston character's ridiuclous plotline.



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Dec 05, 2015
I never do this but I really feel compelled to grasp your rant.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on what is best and so forth. But for you to make a serious critique of art you need to understand what the artist is trying to accomplish, and clearly you have not understood, at all, the point of this show, the breadth of it and the accomplishments that Lindelof has achieved writing this show and Lost. Saying things like, all this weird stuff, and all this stuff is pompous and quasi intellectual, and they say that shit and some other shit is not a critique, it is just vague and meaningless. And you have lost me completely on your analysis of what you believe is going on in the show such as the banality of the hammer metaphor that never existed in that episode.

What Lindelof is supremely talented at doing in these long form stories is build characters. That was what Lost was doing and that is what this show is doing. I cannot think of many other shows that have been able to delve so deeply into character's backgrounds and their subconscious thoughts. Everyone missed the point in Lost. The island was a jumping off point to explore the entire history of a gigantic multiculturaly diverse set of people in a way that was more complex than any other show or film has ever done. Name me one show that had such a large cast of main characters where each was so deeply thought out. You cannot because it does not exist.

The Leftovers is existing in a similar space but on a different scale and at a different and slower pace. It is not a mystery show. It is a story that is exploring a world and relationships amidst a disaster. It is a story that is exploring depression and anxiety in unique ways. And it is done at a pace that is slow but extremely deliberate. There are no easy answers and the story moves along so succinctly in places that other shows stumble over such as introducing the Murphys, showing how the Garveys ended up in Jarden, what all the odd rituals mean in the town, etc. Everything is meaningful, which is amazing. I probably watch too much TV, and maybe this year only Fargo and Hannibal can match the artful storytelling that is on display here. There are plenty of other fine shows at the moment that are entertaining and people seem to enjoy like the Man in the high castle and Jessica Jones and the walking dead but all these are clumsy and waste large amounts of screen time. The leftovers never does this.

What do you not get in this season? The story is fairly simple and I would love to explain it to you, what is difficult is exploring the multiple meanings of the metaphors to each individual character because everyone would have different interpretations based on their own backgrounds and viewpoints. It is the complete opposite of what you are saying is going on.

Also, you did not understand the International Assassin episode at all, there were dozens upon dozens of metaphors each with different allusions to mythology, religion, pop culture and the show's story arcs for multiple characters. If all you understood was that he was put there by a wizard to destroy a ghost with a hammer then you did not understand it at all. Again, I would love to explain this to you.

Clearly you must not speak english as a first language, which is fine and admirable, but your writing skills are sorely lacking to get your point across. And so I cannot understand how you can criticize Lindelof or the education of these brilliant writers, including the author Tom Perrota who is a great writer, and break off into an aside on american stupidity and cultural ignorance. I love when people say things like that without realizing it just makes them sound like they feel superior to americans, which is exactly what you are complaining about americans for doing.

Please tell me where you are from and the wonderful nuanced art that comes out of that wonderful ignorance free country. And sorry for going on so long.
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Dec 05, 2015
He sounds just like TIm used to. lol
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Dec 04, 2015
The sophomore shows are rocking it this fall - The Leftovers, Fargo & The Knick. (I'd say Leftovers is the best show on TV, except that there's Fargo, The Knick, Jessica Jones & The Man In The High Castle. What an embarrassment of riches.)

I think the key improvement with the Leftovers is the character-centric episodes. I watched all of last season, but honestly didn't know what to make of the show other than the character eps. This season, with all character episodes, is just superb.
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Dec 04, 2015
For me, season 1 was ok but nothing special. To me the pace of the show seemed to drag. On the other hand, season 2 is nothing short of amazing in comparison. I actually had to watch the first episode of season 2 twice just to make sure it was the same show. Even the opening credits are a substantial improvement and I love the theme song! Season 1 was high school, season 2 we've graduated and moved on to college.
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Dec 04, 2015
I am currently catching up on it because I read about something cool happening on episode 9. I liked the 1st season, but I felt there was something missing from it. I am really happy season 2 improved on it a lot and it is actually amazing. Can't wait to catch up and see the finale Sunday.

One thing though Fargo is the best show on TV hands down. It's just so so good.
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Dec 04, 2015
I've been waiting every week for someone here to write an article about how great The Leftovers is this season. I really liked season 1, but I love season 2. It has a lot of the magic Lost had during its best seasons (I am not one of the people who hates Lost because of how it ended).

Like a total tv nerd, I watched International Assassin 3 times!
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Dec 05, 2015
I'm in your camp on everything you said, especially what you said about Lost. I'm sorry some people didn't appreciate the ending, but I absolutely loved it. As for Leftovers, Season 2 is super fantastic. Please let there be a season 3.
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Dec 04, 2015
Finally, Cory wrote a good piece on this gem, at least with still 1 episode in. I don't buy the too few comments/clicks bs, lol, not for a second, there are shows that generate little to no buzz and they are still reviewed here, and while being fun little shows, no one thinks they are the best in anything.
Random, no explanation, absence of logic... etc.
Never seen such a stringent, coherent story in my life. Everything makes sense on that show, everything. I don't get why people don't talk about it. Is it fear? Fear of sounding like an idiot? Intended, willing blindness? I can only guess...
What I really like about this show is that it takes something silly(the revelation) and tells a brilliant, clever, mature, heartfelt and inspiring story that's also uncomfortable and even hurtful at times. Doesn't get any better.
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Dec 04, 2015
Why would I lie? That's 100 percent, absolutely, the reason why we haven't covered it.
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Dec 04, 2015
So Tim would have continued covering the show if the numbers were alright? Ok... It was just weird that in the few comments following the last official review Tim titled "Provocative Art or Pompous Garbage" the heat was on between the lovers and haters, with Tim getting a lot of heat. My thinking was that Tim maybe asked himself: For whom am I doing this? The lovers hate me and the haters... well... I wrote a comment reacting to that weird, unpleasant atmosphere and calling for more respect for the differing opinion and that instead of attacking the reviewer one could defend the show and explain where and why the reviewer is wrong instead. But my slap gif could be seen as a punishment rather than an excuse, so maybe that was misunderstood. In any case I think that a lot of heat came from being generally impatient and confused but as the season went on everything became clear and patience was rewarded - so the fighting would have decreased. Maybe all of that was coincidental then and it was the numbers after all.

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Dec 04, 2015
It's a fair question, but the truth is that I was supposed to review the premiere but I had written a half dozen pieces that week so it gave me a break. Generally, Tim has no problem letting us review stuff he doesn't like (see: almost everything on the site). Though, maybe you could argue that if I had written a glowing review of the premiere, the comments would be higher? But I did that for The Knick, do it for Homeland every week, and comments/reads are looooow.
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Dec 05, 2015
No, I don't think it would have been higher then - it's the show. Some fantastic shows don't generate that buzz, or the fans don't know what to comment on, the same with Hell on Wheels, Rectified and The Knick...
The Leftovers could potentially become a comment-blockbuster because there is a lot to talk about just alone what people think what is actually happening and what will come next. But for that to happen more people need to watch it, lol. Other shows like Teenwolf, GoT or TWD generate a lot of buzz (although I think with TWD it's going back slightly) because it's soapy aspects invite "chatter" and because it's watched by more people.
It would be nice if The Leftovers can generate at least as much clicks and comments as iZombie or Supergirl...
I really don't know if the style of the review invites or repels much commenters. Especially when it comes to love/hate shows I think it doesn't really matter, half of them hate the review's tone anyway - but then again the more they rally to let people know... Tough question.
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Dec 04, 2015
This show was on my radar but I have never watched it.
The good news is that some shows are given time to grow and find themselves... and then the audience finds them too.
The three or four episodes and out mentality by viewers and reviewers these days means some potentially good shows never make it.
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Dec 04, 2015
Great show. I actually preferred season 1 in how it dealt with a normal town in exceptional circumstances. Season 2 is an exceptional town in the same circumstances. So I preferred the grounded and more relatable view of season 1.
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Dec 04, 2015
Can Season 1 be skipped completely ? I gave up after 2 episodes and I don't think I have the power to watch the other 8.
Maybe TV.com can consider doing a Season 1 recap?
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Dec 04, 2015
I'd be interested in this as well. I don't want to (potentially) fight through a whole season before knowing whether I actually like the show (that is, season 2) at all.
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Dec 04, 2015
I think it'd be really hard to skip ALL of season one to really appreciate season two.
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Dec 04, 2015
Season 1 for me was one of the best 10 episodes of TV I've ever seen. But of course, everyone to theiir own
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Dec 04, 2015
Banshee eats leftovers for breakfast.

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Dec 04, 2015
What a strange remark. I like both shows a lot. No way to compare. Both good at different things.
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Dec 04, 2015
Best show on TV, linkbait, but it is one of the most original ever! I agree with everything after the title. I hated and left season one after 2 or three episodes. I watched Season 2 premiere and was hooked. Even the painfully slow episodes are so well-acted and shot, that they work well. Also, I think another key is, who gives a crap about the main conceit, got over it and say it happened. There are only a few things I'm lost on because of not watching the first season, but I don't care, this is quality in production attention to details, like Virgil's stuffed animal in a single shot. And wow, the episode where he's the concierge, damn, that's excellent.
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Dec 04, 2015
This comment has been removed.
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Dec 04, 2015
No linkbait! Really believe it.
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Dec 06, 2015
Accept the compliment, but it isn't the best show on TV, just way better than season one. The best show on TV from most arguments is The Good Wife. Writing, acting, directing, guest stars, intelligence, up to date technological satire of Google, self-driving cars, bitcoin, love, emotion, the only one thing it doesn't have or need is violence.
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Dec 04, 2015
I am still not convinced. And this review, well written and descriptive, mentions names and events which makes no sense to me when I have not seen the first season. I have heard/ read so many bad reviews of The Leftovers first season and I don´t see how I could get into the maybe better second season. Maybe if the producers had changed its name and started from scratch after the not so successful first season? Then new people could jump right into the show.
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Dec 04, 2015
"How The Leftovers Became the Best Show on TV"
The contrarian in me desperately wants to refute this statement and doubly-so considering how absolute and bold the statement is. However, I find it impossible. Absolute or not, the title is entirely accurate - The Leftovers really is the best show on TV.
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Dec 04, 2015
The Leftovers has shown that good TV can be made without huge special effects budgets. They haven't needed elaborate sets or state of the art CGI in order to drive their story. Talented actors working with well crafted material has made this one a sleeper hit.
I was hooked last season, but now that the show has actually embraced the madness, I really can't hardly wait to see what happens next. I do hope they get a 3rd series to wrap it up....
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Dec 04, 2015
I don't recall good TV ever relying on huge special effects badgets for The Leftovers to prove otherwise. :/ I will agree, though, that The Leftovers has really embraced itself with the sophomore season and practically is one of the (if not THE) best, most artful and well-written shows currently airing.
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Dec 04, 2015
Lol the leftovers is a joke, no substance, no story, just a bunch of cheap writing tricks to tug at the least intelligent viewers, it doesn't have a story arc because the shows doesn't base success on quality, it basses it on people being dumb enough to think this mess of nonsense can be explained so they cling to the show hoping for an epic and clever resolution to a bunch of events that have no meaning what so ever just the fevered unintelligible fantasy of some ivy league drops outs. THE LEFTOVERS will end the same as lost everyone will know it sucks but will try to defend it because of the time they invested. Damon Lindelof has technical skill with zero talent or creativity he is a hack
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Dec 04, 2015
Couldn't disagree more. Cheap wriiting tricks can be found in just about any show other than The Leftovers. More likely it's the lack of tricks that makes some people feel it's not giving them what they want.
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Dec 04, 2015
I generally hate it when people ask the following question because it tends to be used as an insult rather than a legitimate question but in this case I genuinely have to ask: Do you actually watch the show?
I ask because your post doesn't seem to resemble anything at all that could actually be said about the show. The Leftovers isn't about mystery or resolution, it is about tension.
Although your statement about "cheap writing tricks" could apply to said tension, but the effect is far from cheap. It is masterfully crafted to the point where I can honestly say that I have never seen another show that even comes close to sustaining the level of tension that The Leftovers has maintained all season long. The effect is the very definition of "Must See TV". It draws you in and keeps you suitably tense to keep you enthralled every second which is something that is almost impossibly hard to achieve. Sure the "least intelligent viewers" you mentioned could probably fall prey to the same effect by different means - any show with good pacing can keep one enthralled as long as they don't think too hard but The Leftovers is the only show I have ever known to achieve that effect through tension alone.
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Dec 11, 2015
Lol no offence taken Yeah I do watch the leftovers and I understand where the fans are comming from but here's the thing I watch at minimum about 150 series every season (handicapped so I sit around all day), so my perspective of the "tv landscape" is pretty broad, the leftovers is a perfect example of a show that was developed based on the most popular themes that are threaded into all of that last few seasons mega hits, shows that are driven by an antagonist with no hope of resolution and no expectation of resolution are common place now. For example the Winter on game of thrones The zombies on Walking dead these shows are driven by tension and stress, the list goes on River on Netflix, the newsroom, hell on wheels, all of these shows have antagonists (like the vanishing on leftovers) that only drives stress and conflict amongst the protagonist there's no resolution and no hope for one. So here's the problem with leftovers because the antagonist in the show is only seen as a distance shadow type plot device it can't change the premise or direction or fluidity of the show, so the writers lean in hard on the "dues ex machina" mechanic to create and solve 100% meaningless character interactions which essentially makes it a soap opera with that whole "veritas" cinematography, no jokes of you can get past the production quality the leftovers is just a slightly more believable soap opera right down to the outrageous and illogical interactions that take place. If you can step back from the "story line" for an episode and just observe the nature of the interaction the motivations or the basic phycology of each character and how they interact you will very quickly see what I mean its just segments of recycled drama
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Dec 04, 2015
Plus, im sick of seeing the show get near perfect reviews every week from all the media outlets, yet this site seemed to strongly dislike it for a while, as well as the community here.
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Dec 04, 2015
I will feel like one of the Leftovers if this show Departs

Nice to see you guys WAKE UP and finally see this. Show is not getting enough attention and if you arent watching it well, i simply feel sorry for you. MASTERPIECE. The First season wasnt AS good ill give you that, but it was still pretty great. Season 2 however, oh boy, words cannot describe, everything about it is top notch, but thats right, nobody here would know because you guys DIDNT REVIEW A SINGLE EPISODE outside of the premiere which was the weakest episode of the season.
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Staff
Dec 04, 2015
I see this sentiment a few times in the comments, but you do realize there's a reason we didn't review more than premiere, right? The comments/reads were very low, comparatively. Just because something isn't covered weekly doesn't mean people on staff don't like it. Tim and I talked about it on the podcast a couple of times previously, and again this week. You don't have to all caps me to death.
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Dec 10, 2015
haha, sorry, looking back my comment does come off rather aggressive, which i wasnt trying to be. Just love the show. and i also understand why some people werent happy with season 1 but i personally loved that season too. Just so happy its been renewed.
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Dec 04, 2015
For what it's worth, I agree with you on why people didn't like season 1...and I understand it. But, I personally thought season 1 was as strong as season 2, but simply in different ways. This show is a treasure and should be treated as such. I can think of zero other things I've ever seen that feel like it.
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Dec 04, 2015
Best show on TV by far, probably far too intellectual for the ordinary ;)
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Dec 04, 2015
Please baby Jesus, let it be renewed. Please, please, please. Amen.
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Dec 05, 2015
I agree with your prayer, but didn't baby Jesus grow up? I hope that wasn't a baby on the cross getting crucified for my sins. Lol (just playin with ya.)
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Dec 04, 2015
I'm on the lot that really enjoyed season 1. I guess one can say that season 2 has more focus. I wish they had taken this kind of approach in Lost.
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Dec 14, 2015
I don't get why people like season 2 so much more than season 1. I loved how season 1 explored what the world would look like after an event like the departure (apocalypse) and i found most of it to ring true.
To me season 1 was perfect television, i can not find fault with it, and those last 2 episodes....
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Dec 14, 2015
Couldn't find fault on it neither, for me it was perfect too.
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Dec 04, 2015
Everything that Cory said is true, there are many ways the writers have objectively improved the show in Season 2 but he left out the most important part - that it is awesome. It is an exhaustive, emotional, visceral, heart-breaking, spell-binding, propulsive, irresistible show.
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Staff
Dec 04, 2015
All that stuff was true in S1 though!
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Dec 04, 2015
It's days of our lives on HBO it's sad that you dint realize you have the intellect of a day time soap opera fan
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Dec 04, 2015
I dint realise at all. Me and my no thinky intellect.
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Dec 04, 2015
I haven't seen this season yet but I had to come here to say that the leftovers has been the best show on tv since last season.
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Dec 04, 2015
Maybe I will give it a try again. The first episode of season 1 bored me to death and I never recovered from that.
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Dec 05, 2015
You won't be sorry if you do. I'm sure HBO will have a blitz soon, so get your DVR ready. Be ready to be enthralled!
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Dec 04, 2015
Cory, thank you for finally giving this show the writeup it deserves. 'Ol Cranky Tim McPantsenstein didn't like it last year, but hopefully he's finished catching up on this season and has turned around. Great points, too. Well written!
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Staff
Dec 04, 2015
He's coming around!
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Dec 04, 2015
LOL my favorite part of the weekly podcast is when you try to tell Tim how good The Leftovers is. "IT'S SO GOOD, TIM, UGH!"

....I feel you, bro. I feel you.
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Dec 04, 2015
I loved the first two episodes, but I've been too busy to sit down and watch the rest. I'll binge it during the holidays.
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Dec 04, 2015




Yay. Let's celebrate.

[background music. Grandmaster Flash - White Lines]

Yay, Let's celebrate.


YES! WOOHOO. Get higher baby. Much better now.

After reading this article i decided to watch the penultimate episode because i figured. If the real mystery is never revealed then everything that happened before this doesn't matter because you can't understand it anyway. That is the beauty of it.

So her my is recap of the first 15 minutes. If i got things wrong i apologize in advance.

So Meg goes to the bathroom for a refill. She comes back and grandmother is dead. But apparently she had something important to say. So Meg visits a psychic in a place called Miracle. She comes back disappointed and says: He wasn't the real deal. Now my question is simple. How can you verify if a psychic is the real deal? My answer would be. You can't. But moments later she has a break down. And then a girl (no idea who she is) comes up to her and gives her a carrot? WTF?

Knock Knock
Who's there
Broken Pencil
Broken Pencil Who
Never mind it's pointless

And then...
LOL. (sorry. I laughed at a inappropriate time) To blow up a school bus full of children. Nice. The ultimate act of terror. That's how you do it terrorists. I personally can't because i value human life. Fortunately the grenade didn't go off? Damn. Or did it? I really can't say.

And this was only the first 15 minutes. You feel me?
It all makes totally sense.

Well, It was only a matter of time before one of the staff members went into hyperbole mode about this show. Thanks Cory. Now i have something to watch during the winter break ! Even though i have maybe spoiled some things for myself. But like i said it doesn't really matter. Explanations are useless :) Just watch the show.

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Dec 04, 2015
Second best. I'll give the honor of the best to Fargo.
Anyways, I absolutely loved the first season and the second season improves on it. Watching both Fargo and this deliver two perfect episodes every week has been such a treat.
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Dec 05, 2015
I too agree Fargo is the BEST, but Leftovers is right on its heels.
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Dec 04, 2015
I loved the first season, so hearing the second is better is great news. Once the season is finished I'll binge it.
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Dec 04, 2015
I envy you. Binge-watching this season must be... I don't have a word for it in English.
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Dec 04, 2015
its weird and cool
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Dec 04, 2015
Cannot BELIEVE how much better this season has been over Season 1. I didn't read the whole article b/c spoilers :) but I am going to finish catching up tonight & tomorrow and then finish reading. Spot on for as far as I've read.
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Dec 04, 2015
It's easily one of my favorite shows of the year. Hopefully it gets renewed and you Cory can give us weekly recaps. Yay for The Leftovers!!
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Dec 04, 2015
I absolutely love this show. I loved the first season but I like bleak ish. But season two is flat out brill, no matter how you slice. The scene between Erika and Nora, Kevin's meeting in the trailer and then the entire episode that followed. This show has been firing on all cylinders all season. Oh and the best is how Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" has become the unofficial theme. Oh and the new theme song is amazing as well.
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Dec 04, 2015
Okay then.
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Dec 04, 2015
this show is just like life, a series of random events with no visible explanation, usually horrid and tremendously sad, but punctuated by one or another act of extreme kindness and/or bravery. so compelling when such events are both at the same time! like the beautiful, emotional scene at the bottom of that well. so impressively elegant and compassionate. i had a very relieving fit of tears with that one.
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Dec 04, 2015
Everyone talks about

The Walking Dead (Mainly negatively, but still)

Fargo (Season 2 has been overrated IMO, season 1 was MILES better, but at least it is better than True Detective which was average last season and fucking diabolical this season)

The Flash (Still don't get the love for this show - it's good but people are acting like it is leaps ahead of Arrow when it is completely in the same league)

Game Of Thrones (the most overrated show of the past 5 years, season 5 sucked monkey balls and yet all anyone can talk about is the fate of John Snow, even though we all know he will be Glenn Rhee's as soon as Season 6 starts)

It is finally nice to see TV.com appreciate how fucking good The Leftovers is - i admit, season 1 had it's meh moments, especially those early episodes, but by the end of the season i was hooked, and season 2 has been one of the best sophomore seasons i have ever seen, it has not had one bad episode, again, i admit there was at least 1 episode this season that wasn't as good as the other 9 so far, but not one episode was below a 9 IMO
Let's just hope the finale doesn't give us a Walking Dead feeling

The Leftovers MAY be my favourite season of the year and it had some competition
My picks would be - Banshee, Hannibal, Bloodline - which all had TREMENDOUS seasons of TV
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Dec 04, 2015
If you're gonna complain about TV in all the wrong ways, at LEAST spell Jon Snow's name right.
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Dec 04, 2015
Like i give a shit how his name is spelt? he is shit character on an average show
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Dec 04, 2015
If you haven't seen people raving about Leftovers all season long, you are just not looking in the right places.
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Dec 04, 2015
My post was in regards to TV.com - i check IGN and it has had a very positive response on there and my brother tells me he checks the AV Club and those usually give great grades

I have been severely frustrated with the lack of coverage for The Leftovers on TV.com hence why i am angry about the coverage those i listed get - TV.com is my go to site for TV news - but Tim assures me that the finale will get a review - but coming from him, he will most likely whine about things he clearly doesn't understand - so i am glad Cory actually understands how good this show is
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Dec 04, 2015
True Detective season two average? Understatement of the year!
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Dec 04, 2015
I must learn to read properly. Season 1 was fantastic. And what exactly do you mean by diabolical. Diabolical bad?
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Dec 04, 2015
The irony in my reply haha
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Dec 04, 2015
Yeah you must learn to read - diabolical was in regard to True Detective - not Fargo - Fargo has been decent, but not nearly as good as people are giving it credit for - the performances are amazing (like AMAZING) but the characters just ain't working for me, none of them have the pull like Lester Nygard and Lorne Malvo did IMO - and the story ain't so great either - just kinda disappointed because of how hyped i was for it - but that's clearly just me because it has a HUGE following
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Dec 04, 2015
I was pretty disappointed in the beginning as well, for much the same reasons as you. But these past 4 episodes or so really hit home in my opinion.
Now I'm over the fact that we don't have a central character pairing like before in Lester/Malvo but a more multi-dimensional dynamic. Tthe goofiness still lives with Ed and Peggy, Nick Offerman ist last season's Bob Odenkirk, and the Solversons still are the only competent cops around. It grew on my is what I'm trying to say.
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Dec 04, 2015
The Leftovers was one of the best shows on TV last year...even if not everybody knew it at the time (looking at you Surette). Any show this good with a "don't give a fuck-o-meter" rating that high, you know it's great.
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Dec 04, 2015
Totally agree! I'm really enjoying this second season, it's interesting and moving along nicely. The reveal at the end of the last episode was great.
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