You Had One Job, Republican Party. One Job.

I’m not mad, Republican Party. I’m just disappointed. 

It should have been a piece of cake.

Everything was looking up for you, Grand Ol’ Party. Large numbers of Americans were fed up with the current Democratic administration; the pendulum was swinging back your way; the field of potential Republican nominees was vast and ripe for the picking. All you had to do was put up a competent, somewhat-likable candidate people could rally around, and the White House was yours.

Then you nominated Donald Trump.

The Democrats had put a big fat Christmas gift in your lap in the form of a challenger who’s almost universally considered dishonest, is under federal investigation, and is statistically the most disliked Presidential candidate in modern history (… well, second-most-disliked now. Apologies).

So what did you do? You hoisted upon the masses someone who’s also under federal investigation, is known for exaggerating the truth, and whose unfavorable ratings make Hillary’s look positively wonderful in comparison. You nominated perhaps the only candidate who could lose a general election to Hillary Clinton – and a man who half of the Republican Party isn’t even sure they would want to win in November if he could.

It’s not like you didn’t have a bountiful cornucopia of qualified, successful, popular leaders you could have chosen to carry the torch and take the Republican Party into the future. All you had to do was put their names on a wheel, spin it, and pick one — Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Nikki Haley, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindall, Rand Paul, Susanna Martinez, Tim Pawlenty, Paul Ryan, Condoleeza Rice, John Hunstman, Brian Sandoval, Mike Pence, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, blah blah blah — the list goes on.

A GOP cornucopia

A GOP cornucopia, which took me longer to Photoshop than it should have

Ideologies and opinions on various politicians will always differ, but at least the party could have ultimately united around one of the many leaders who had actually accomplished something, was beloved by a majority of their constituents, and was at least a decent human being.

2016 was your chance to finally prove to the nation, and to the swarm of young new voters, that your party wasn’t the clueless laughingstock that “Hollywood” and “the media” made you out to be. To show how the Republican party was built upon the desire to embrace all Americans, and offer each of them – yes, despite wealth, class or creed – the chance to be successful and make their lives better. 2016 was your chance to show that the “American Dream” could still be alive and well in the party of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.

Then you nominated Donald Trump.


But this isn’t about electability anymore, Republican Party.
It isn’t even about politics anymore.
This is about much more.
It’s about your future. About character and decency and all-around not-being-an-awful-person-ness.

Political opinions are a dime a dozen. But what you’ve allowed to transpire within your party this year is about much more than political persuasions and different viewpoints on policy. You’ve let a conman hijack the Republican Party and bend it to his will – and sane, rational Republican leaders are now beginning to kneel down to the would-be Caesar and kiss his ring.

It’s now obvious that millions of Americans agree with Donald Trump’s ideas, and with the statements he makes – and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe he actually is pointing out some legitimate things that need to be changed within the Republican Party, and within politics in general.
But why does that make him qualified to be the leader of the free world? Just because I’m able to point out the fact that my sink is broken doesn’t mean I should be trusted to mess around with the pipes. I call a plumber who actually knows what they’re doing.

Honestly, it’s fine that so many voters in your party agree with him. It’s a free country, and they can think and say what they want. I’m not interested in debating policy. We’ve been doing that for 240 years, and we’re still divided on just about everything.

The problem is that Trumpism has become a cult of personality – nothing to do with “conservatism” or Republican ideals. He doesn’t have any discernible “policies” other than vague notions and empty promises. His appeal is not in “solutions to problems,” but in catchy phrases meant to rile people up, tap into their fear, and help them feel vindicated. To make them think he’s going to “win” and that him “winning” will really be them “winning.”

For 8 years, Republicans have mocked Obama voters for falling for a few cute slogans – “Hope” and “Change” – while not seeing the man for who he “really” was. These same people are the ones falling even deeper for Donald Trump and “Make America Great Again.” All they know is that he’s going to make America “great” again (whatever that means), and that’s enough.

Look, I’m not going to lay out all the reasons Donald Trump is a horrible human being, it’s been done already (like here or here).
Enough people have already outlined all the ways he’s a bigoted, sexist, racist, egotistical, massively insecure, cynical liar who insults world leaders, mocks the disabled, condones illegal violence, attacks veterans for being POWs, kisses up to dictators, bases women’s worth on how attractive they are, refuses to support our only ally in the Middle East, brings in endorsements from the KKK, talks about how he’d like to be romantic with his daughter if she wasn’t related, and bankrupts business venture after business venture. No need to rehash it.

trump 4

With each new day it becomes clearer how he is unfit, unqualified, and unprepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

The role of the President of the United States of America is too influential, too symbolic, and too important to hand over to a rabble-rousing opportunist with no backbone and no principles other than the burning desire to prop himself higher and higher and stroke his own ego in any way he can.

This YouTube-comments-section-in-human-form has built his entire “success” upon cheating others out of business deals, being handed everything on a silver platter, surrounding himself with weak-kneed yes men, bribing politicians, and taking advantage of ordinary citizens to get what he wants. Now he wants to be rewarded for those efforts with the highest office in the land. To give the Presidency to Donald Trump would be to glorify everything we say we despise as Americans.


“UNIFY?”

So, Republican Party, you’ve made your choice.
Now you want us to “unify” and unite around your nominee? Around a man who gained popularity by implying he’d burn the Republican Party to the ground if he didn’t win the nomination?

Mmm, no thanks.

“Unify, for the sake of the party,” you say.

The “sake of the party” obviously wasn’t on your mind when you nominated Donald Trump.

Here’s that GOP cornucopia again, because I really put some work into it and want to make sure you get a good look at it. Kasich is a butternut squash! Very humorous!

Not to mention the irreparable damage a Donald Trump ticket does when all the down-ballot Republican senators, congressmen, governors and representatives up for election lose because normally-Republican-leaning voters don’t even bother showing up on Election Day. Donald Trump spells out disaster for your party.

Donald Trump is now the symbol of your party. Let that sink in. 

The most un-Republican un-conservative candidate in your party’s history is now the standard-bearer for the Republican Party. Trump eagerly threw lies, threats and hateful smears towards anyone who didn’t properly worship at his altar, and now he wants to call himself “a unifier?”

Are we really that gullible?

What reason do you have to believe he’ll put forward conservative policies, or even appoint conservative justices? As history has proven, his word is worth as much as a degree from Trump University. Donald Trump cares only about amassing wealth, and right now votes are his currency. His penchant for telling people what they want to hear has gotten him this far – what makes you think he won’t sell you out to the next highest bidder?

Yes, Trump earned this spot through a democratic system of voting. He has support. But Republican leaders only now jumping on the Trump bandwagon in fear of the Republican Party (and their jobs) leaving them behind should be seen for what they are – spineless. True leaders stand by their convictions, explain why, and are willing to suffer the consequences. The outrage many Republican leaders felt towards Donald Trump’s rhetoric was palpable last year. Now, most are silent. Apparently too many GOP leaders are drunk at the punch bowl of conformity; and too few are willing to embarrass themselves by admitting they’re sober and offering to grab the car keys.

GOP, before you go and get mad at me, remember that we’ve had some pretty good times. I was rooting for you. I was excited to register as a Republican. I’ve been with you ever since, because I genuinely believe that most Republican policies and ideas work best for America. I’m your typical target audience: I’m not a fan of Obama, and I think Bush and Reagan did pretty good jobs. But Donald Trump’s “Republican Party” does not represent the majority of Americans. It does not represent me.

Trump is unlikely to win. But if he does, he endangers the Republican Party’s ability to survive. A President Trump forever changes the GOP’s identity. If Trump takes the White House, the Republican Party will always be remembered as the party that put him there. You may never be trusted again.

“For the sake of the party?” For the sake of the party, you should hope that Donald Trump doesn’t win in November.

trump11

If nothing else, Trump’s swift coronation by the “Religious Right” has shown how the so-called Evangelical vote in America has begun to forget its moral center. Christian leaders less concerned with principles, values, and truth than in retaining a political party’s power for power’s sake are not worth following.

If saying that ruffles your feathers, then so be it. Consider your feathers ruffled. Christians should be on the front lines, standing up to demagogues like Mr. Trump and reminding them that actions speak louder than words.
Instead, many of the same groups who had shouted and screamed about Clinton and Obama’s lack of “character” were wholeheartedly backing Trump months before he even locked your party’s nomination. He learned some church lingo, tickled their ears, and they enabled him to piggyback his way to a Republican victory.

When was the last time so many leaders in the Church supported someone who claims to never ask for God’s forgiveness (because he’s “never done anything worth asking forgiveness for”), owns strip clubs, supports partial-birth abortion (up until a few minutes ago at least), refuses to support Israel, says “you have to treat women like sh*t,” and brags about the numerous sexual experiences he’s had with “happily married women” while cheating on his wives?

But he says he has a “great relationship with God,” and that his favorite book of the Bible is “Two Corinthians,” so I guess that makes it all okay.


“THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS”

The rest of the choices are now gone. Reality has sunk in. What we all assumed would be an amusing sideshow quickly ending in a firestorm of “You’re Fired!” tweets, has dovetailed into the most unlikely of Presidential candidates in a general election. Donald Trump is now your only option to avoid Hillary Clinton being President. Apparently.

“Even if you don’t like him, you need to vote for the lesser of two evils,” you say.

Why?

You do know that Americans are not required to vote for only Republicans and Democrats, right? There is absolutely no chance a third-party candidate will win the Presidency – but perhaps that’s only the case because everyone shrugs it off as an impossibility.  We could unify around a third party, or create a new party altogether. But we all think it won’t happen – so it won’t. The American voters, for however much they may despise their two options, will elect one of them into office because they think they are their only choices.

“The More-er of Two Evils”

So you want me to vote for Donald Trump, because “at least he’s not as bad as her.”
Even if that’s the case, how can you ask me to give the only power I have in the way this country is governed – my vote – to a man who represents everything America’s founders fought a Revolution to escape?
Despite any conceivable positives, there is simply no scenario in which I will give history the satisfaction of looking back and asking me “why did you vote for Donald Trump?”

“It wasn’t what we really wanted, but it seemed like the only choice.” “We just went along with what everyone did.” It’s a stretch to compare not voting for Donald Trump to standing up to British tyranny in the 18th century, fighting against slavery in the 19th century South, or to voicing opposition to African-Americans being treated like second-class citizens in the 20th. Those were aspects of life that “everyone just went along with” in their day too, though. But a few people decided to stand up and be brave. This is America, and in America we fight for those taken advantage of. We stand up to the despots, the tyrants, and the bullies.

Sometimes in battle you have to fall back, regroup, and try to get stronger for the next fight. Republican Party, perhaps this is your best course of action now instead of pushing forward into battle and suffering even more casualties. Donald Trump does not care about you or me. His sole motivation in seeking the White House is Donald Trump. His entire life is one characterized by self-absorption, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement.

A President Trump would be a yuuuge disaster. A political environment where ridiculous statements, conspiracy theories, pathological lies and hateful threats are rewarded with your party’s nomination (and potentially the Presidency) will only inspire imitators. Donald Trump is hardly the end of this nightmare you’ve allowed to fester.

People want change. And rightly so. But this man, who has spent millions bribing politicians over the course of his life, wants you to believe that he’ll be the one to stop political cronyism? Your trust has been misplaced. Maybe it is time to take a cue from Donald Trump and rethink “politics as usual.” I’m all for getting an outsider in there who’s passionate about making the country a better place, and has concrete plans to do so. But as frustrated as we are with our government, it will never be the right time to consider such a vile, insecure, and reckless choice as this for President of the United States.

No matter how many arguments to deny him America’s votes arise, many consciences will remain clear about voting for Donald Trump. Your vote is your own. You must do what your gut tells you is right.  But at least be willing to examine the man himself, and not just the (R) next to his name.

There are just too many of us who are unable, and unwilling, to support the man you’ve decided to trot out as your nominee, GOP. And for that, you will suffer the consequences. Either you will lose control of the federal government for four (or more) years, or your party will be symbolized by the most divisive American candidate in modern history. Time will only tell which outcome does more damage.

Voting for Hillary is just as repulsive to many of us, and a third-party candidate’s chances may be a pipe dream. But what if this election became about more than just who could win? Going to the voting booth is perhaps one the simplest, least-brave actions we can take as American citizens. But what if we chose to be brave with our vote?
What if we chose to shut this man down once and for all, and not allow him to bully his way into the Oval Office?
What if we reminded the Republican Party that maybe, just possibly, there are bigger things at stake than which political group sits in the White House the next four years?

I don’t presume to know the best decision for us to make at this moment in our nation’s history. There are no easy answers here. But I’ve been to his rally. I’ve seen Donald Trump speak in person. He is not being edited by the “media” to appear as something he is not.

As the election grows closer, it will only be easier for Republicans to fall into the trap. We’re seeing it already. GOP leaders are coming out of the woodwork to “apologize” on his behalf, talk about how he’s really not that bad, and how he’s “sticking it to the establishment.  Booyah, screw you, Washington!”
No, he is an egotistical liar and your party is actively painting his multitude of sins as merely the “eccentric” behavior of a successful leader to retain power. The fact that we’re still even entertaining him as a viable candidate would be laughable if it weren’t so alarming.

Look, Republican Party, I don’t hate Donald Trump. I wish him the best. If he is our next President, I would hope he does a good job. But even on the off-chance he’s elected and even-more-off-chance he’s considered a good President, I’ll still be glad I didn’t vote for him.
His path to success in business, reality TV, and politics has been marked by personal gain above all else, and has stood in direct opposition to the ideals America was founded on. Donald Trump’s is not a story we should look up to, champion, or admire.

I may not have the same level of optimism I once placed in you, Republican Party, but I am still optimistic about America. We’re better than this. In America, we’ve always prided ourselves in sticking up for the little guy, and standing up to the bullies – Standing up to people like Donald Trump.

So that’s why I can’t make our date this November, GOP. I just feel like we need to see different people, and you need some time to find yourself.
Please don’t hate me. I hope we can still be friends.

 

© Matt Tory, 2016. 


Featured image via: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5440392565

Other images courtesy of: flickr.com/gageskidmore

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Before You Leave This Place

OR: REFLECTIONS AND HAPHAZARD musings
ON MAKING THE MOST OF COLLEGE

I graduate from college tomorrow. 

Didn’t I just get here? Didn’t my time in college just start? Did I learn all that I could? Did I make the most of my time with friends? Why didn’t I get more sleep? Why didn’t I talk to that cute girl who sat next to me in my Creative Writing class that went on to be a best-selling musical artist on iTunes?   

These questions can plague all of us as we prepare to graduate.

I’m excited for what the future will bring; but I am also extremely sad to be leaving this place.
College is a time unlike any other in your life. You’ll learn more than you might care to. You’ll be stretched in more ways than you might want. You’ll meet lifelong friends (and boneheads who you’re glad you’ll never see again). You’ll learn how to make this place your own. And when it finally feels like home, it’ll be time for you to leave and move on.

When you head off to college, everyone always has the same advice:

Get good grades. Don’t party too much. Make friends. Make lots of contacts for the future. Get involved in clubs. Do your best in… zzzzzzzzzz……

Those things are important and all, but I don’t care about them right now. I want to talk about the small moments. The things you may take for granted in college. The moments you could never anticipate. The parts that really add up to define what your “college” experience is.

As I leave Biola University, I have no regrets. Could I have done some things better? Yeah. But I lived, and learned, and loved, the best I could. I tried to appreciate every moment for what it was.

It’s easy to be cynical as a young adult,  getting a taste of heartache and pain, and observing all that’s screwed up in our world. Fight that cynicism. College is your training ground to learn to live joyfully. This is a season full of its fair share of trials, but also numerous blessings as well. It’s a time to learn to live out Psalm 118:24 for yourself, whether you always feel like it or not.: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” All of those painful, lonely, nervous, and scary moments in life help make you who you are – and help you appreciate the fun, adventurous, exciting and joyful moments even more.

Whether you’re in college, soon to be, or have a few days left, I want to share a few things with you. This is just me – a lowly college senior about to leave a place where he’s been fortunate enough to live and learn for a few years – holding a John Cusack radio above his head, hoping you’ll open the window and give a listen.

Enjoy this season for what it is; these are your “good ol’ days.” It’s easy to revel in the big moments; but one of the greatest joys in college come from celebrating the small ones. My deepest hope for you is that you never view this season as “something to get through,” but as a daily blessing to be savored. Learn to appreciate every moment here, in all its different shades, freedoms, and challenges.
Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
Before you leave this place:


Embrace dorm life.
Sure, it may not be ideal. And yeah, you might be paired with a roommate you just don’t mesh with. And yes, that’s all the space you get. But make this place your own, and do your best to form relationships with the people on your floor right from the get-go – they will be your most influential friendships as you start life in this new place. Once you’ve formed bonds and built your “home” here, you’re pretty much set.
You have the rest of your life to live in a house; relish dorm life while you’re in it. There’s nothing quite like living in cramped and close quarters with dozens of your best friends and ‘doing life’ together. Hanging out, studying, playing games, watching movies, doing homework – all while living just a few steps away from each other. Dorming may seem like a hassle, but it’s an experience unlike any you’ll ever get again. Enjoy it.

Get to know the name of everyone on your floor, and learn something they are passionate about.

If anyone ever says, “hey wanna grab lunch?” the answer is always yes.
Meal time is bonding time. Friendships are formed and relationships solidified over Hawaiian pizza and Captain Crunch… And yes, that is a complete meal I have had in the cafeteria before (I won’t say how many times).

Always join in late night donut runs.
Always. This is bonding time like no other. Prepare deep questions you all can wrestle with during said donut-eating time.

Seek out students from different cultures and ask them what they miss most about home. 

Don’t focus on romantic relationships.
*Gasp!* I know, I’m stomping on everyone’s dreams of finding the love of their life in college. But for all the “Ring by Spring” talk, only about 20% of students end up marrying someone they met in college.
If it happens, it happens, and that’s great. But if not, that’s fine too.
You have the rest of your life to fall in love. You don’t have the rest of your life to enjoy and take advantage of forming friendships in college. The chance to live among a large community of friends is temporary. Don’t waste all your energy searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right to realize you wasted all the time you could have spent building friendships in an environment you’ll never have again. If you do find love, that’s fantastic. But if not, don’t sweat it. College is not the last chance you’ll ever have to find a spouse.

Call your mom.
Often. It’s the least you can do; do you even realize what she had to go through in childbirth?

Make a homemade contraption out of a dolly, a scooter and duct tape, and ride it down Caf’ Hill in the middle of the night.
Apologize profusely when Campus Safety asks you what exactly it is you think you’re doing.

Find friends who validate your worth.  

* Find friends who validate your worth for who you really are.
Not for who they want you to be, or who they think you might end up being. 

Make traditions.
With your friends. Your floor. Your class. Whatever. They will end up meaning more to you than you know.

Leave time to waste time.
One of the most significant things this place taught me was the importance of “wasting time.” And by that, I mean spending time on things that you’re calendar or schedule wouldn’t consider “productive.”
When I look back on my days at Biola, my fondest memories will be the random, dumb, simple, silly, and spontaneous times spent with friends. Nonstop laughter with friends by the campus fireplace. Playing card games in the middle of the hallway. Spontaneous theological discussions over breakfast burritos. Grabbing a suit and some speakers to crash intramural games as ‘sports commentators.’ Movie nights in crowded dorm rooms.
We often let our busy schedules get in the way of living life spontaneously. I tend to be extremely task-oriented, always following a busy schedule with a million things I feel like I need to get done. But there’s a reason God gave us the Sabbath in the first place – we need rest.

So I made it a priority during my time here to always be ahead of my work. So that I could have the flexibility and the pleasure of doing random things at random times with random people. Did I know that I was going to spend three hours late one night trying to trap a rogue mouse with twenty other guys on my floor, all running around in our underwear with buckets and quickly-fashioned traps? No. But imagine what I would have missed out on if I’d had a long list of things I needed to get done that night (that little sucker still got away though, even after all that).

Go to the cafeteria in a suit and tie for absolutely no reason.

Institute random dance parties on your floor.

Shake it off when people make fun of your love for Taylor Swift songs.
They just don’t get it, man.  

Don’t play the “new guy” card for too long.
I spent too long feeling like the “new guy” on campus, waiting to getting involved in different aspects of campus life and not wanting to upset the status quo, that I wasted time I could have spent blazing my own trail and making lifelong memories. Claim your stake. This is where you belong, if you believe it. Do your thing.

Grow out your facial hair at least once.
Every man* needs to see what they look like in a beard. Even if only to satisfy their own curiosity.
*Not excluding women here, just figured they’d prefer if this one was optional.

Ask for help.

Keep in touch with your old friends.
Life gets busy. But carve out time to connect and spend time with your friends from high school and beyond. Those are relationships that will only survive if you make sure to take the time to nurture them.
I’ve been blessed with so many meaningful friendships throughout my life, and I know I’m not the best at it but I make sure to take special mind of checking in with each of them every now and then, letting them know I’m thinking about them, and seeing what they’re up to. You never know how or what friendships will mean so much more to you down the road.

Stay away from coffee (if you can). 

Throw yourself into situations where you are forced to practice boldness.
Heck, throw
 yourself into situations where you are forced to practice caution.

Don’t neglect your inner child.
Don’t worry so much about being “grown up.” Be silly. Be whimsical. Get excited about going to Disneyland, or hearing your favorite band on the radio.* Stay up late with friends, laughing over stupid YouTube videos. Play board games. Make a pillow fort in your dorm room just because.
*Is listening to the radio still even a thing for most college students? I feel so old.

Read books that aren’t required for class. 

Get comfortable doing things by yourself.
You don’t always have to be with your friends to have a good time.
Get out of your comfort zone and do some things alone – It’s a nice break from the daily grind and helps you grow in confidence. Grab a meal with a good book. Go see a movie in the middle of the day and have the whole theater to yourself. Go to a museum, or browse a bookstore. Facebook-stalk that girl you saw in the Libr– oh wait, never mind.

Make a Christmas-themed music video with your dorm in the middle of May, just because. 

Find things to appreciate about the food in the Caf.’

Make friends regardless of major, interests, hometown, or background. 
One of the things I’m not looking forward to is leaving school and finding myself in a world where relationships tend to be dictated by job title, social status, or tax bracket. But in school, none of that matters as much.
Make friends from all different walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, hobbies, and future job prospects. Try not to hang around “just” business-minded students, or “just” budding filmmakers. Gather in groups of friends where everyone is studying and hoping to work in different fields. It will add color and unique perspectives to your life.
Who cares that years from now some of you will be working in cubicles from 9 to 5, and others will be crashing on couches waiting for their big break. Even though we may not agree with it, the world we live in years from now will not be the same as the quasi-society we find ourselves in now. Take advantage of this place where all are equals and viewed for their personalities instead of their bank accounts, birthplace, or house size. Here, as it should be, we are basically all equals. We are just Biola students.

Screw fashion. Wear what you want.

Let your teachers know how much you appreciate them.
They are humans too, who may feel insecure in their work or doubt their abilities. Let them know how much you appreciate their passion for what they teach or how they’ve helped bring the subject matter to life for you. A little world of encouragement will go a long way.

Celebrate your friends’ accomplishments.
Revel in each others’ successes.

Choose a specific way to leave your mark.
Pick tangible ways to make your mark on your campus and your fellow students. It doesn’t have to be much.
I decided to invest most of my energy into my floor and “fostering community” (a term I often get teased for) among those I lived with. I decided that one of my main ‘ministries’ was going to be helping make the few dozen men on my floors’ life more fun or better in small ways. To help make our floor, HEAT, not only a fun place to live but a place we’re all proud to call home. I didn’t always succeed, but it’s always worth the effort.
Just make a conscious resolution to be engaged somewhere, committed to the betterment of others.

Watch ‘Toy Story 3’ as you’re about to undergo big transitions in life. 
Trust me. It helps.

Take a long walk around campus before you graduate. 
Make your way through your school and remember the moments that happened in various spots. Take time to reminisce and thank God for all he has done in your life since you first came to this place. Contemplate jumping in the fountain in the middle of campus. It is your last night here, after all. Remember the rumor about the student who did so and got his diploma pulled. Don’t do it. Wish you had.

It’s not “goodbye.”
It’s “til next time.”

Be selfless. Be kind. Be bold. Be open to change. Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things. “Waste time.” Do what you do for the people who enjoy what you do, not the critics. Celebrate the small things. Discover. Explore. Create. Other cliched words. Do it all. Make the most of your time here, appreciate it for what it is, and learn to live joyfully.
You do that, and you should be okay. Oh, and don’t eat too much 2AM Taco Bell. That stuff will go right through you. Happy colleging.


© Matt Tory,  2015

“We Have to Go Back!”: ‘LOST’ After 10 Years

An Open Love Letter to LOST
(and Why it Was the Most Important Show of Our Generation)


A decade ago this week, LOST changed how the world watches TV.

September 22, 2004 may seem like an insignificant day in history, but it brought with it a monumental shift in how the world watches and interacts with their favorite television shows.
On September 22, 2004 the world was first introduced to Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, a dangerous “Monster,” a cursed set of numbers, tropical polar bears, and that enigmatic island.

10 years ago this week, LOST aired its first episode.
Feeling old yet? 

And LOST entered with a bang, completely changing the game. It was unlike anything that’d ever been on TV, and unlike anything that’s come after it. It was TV’s greatest puzzle and one of it’s greatest character studies rolled into one.

In an age of Netflix, short-run TV series, and binge-watching parties, it’s easy to forget just how thrilling and insane it was to watch and follow LOST on a weekly basis.

It was bold, ambitious, and broke all the rules. It was masterfully told, cinematic in scope, and it changed the television landscape with just its pilot episode alone. LOST bursting onto the scene — even with just its first episode — reinvigorated the industry and proved to the world what TV could do.

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Through the Looking Glass

What LOST Meant to Me

LOST was just a TV show.
I get it. 
But art has the power to move us, inspire us, challenge us, and transform us. And if ever TV could be considered “art,” it was LOST.
Put simply… LOST was the biggest and most important artistic influence in my life. I know it may sound silly to some, but it’s the truth.
To some, LOST is just a TV show. To many, a great TV show even. But still just a TV show. 

You hear a number of screenwriters and directors today cite the first time they saw Star Wars as the moment they knew they wanted to be filmmakers.
They walked out of the theater as young kids, bouncing and excited at having experienced something beyond even their imaginations — “I want to do that” — knowing they wanted to tell stories, and make movies, and share them with the world.
You see, LOST was my Star Wars. 

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I was thirteen when LOST first invaded our television sets.
It came into my life at that perfect time when one’s transitioning from the awkward little kid who lives solely for LEGOs and ice cream, to a young person with their own thoughts and desires — and LOST showed me the desires I had always had in me. To tell stories. And it was because LOST so masterfully told its own stories that something awoke in me and said… “This… this is what I’m going to do with my life.”

I’m convinced that, if for no one else in the world, LOST was put on TV for me.  And I understand that others will never really appreciate it in the same way or see it through the same lens as me, and I’ve reconciled that.
But that doesn’t mean that its importance and influence should go unnoticed. I don’t want LOST to be forgotten.

I don’t want people to forget how it was the most important and influential television show of our generation.
I don’t want people to forget how it reinvigorated the entertainment industry.
I don’t want us to forget how it thrilled us in ways we’d never been thrilled, and made us think about things we’d never thought about before.

It’s hard to try and encapsulate everything that made LOST so special, and all that it meant to me, in words.
I’ve thought about taking some time to write down my reflections on why LOST was so magical and how it was so masterful at what it did for years, but I’ve near really seen a good time to.
But the greatest story to ever unfold on the small screen is now a decade old. This is probably that time.

Aside from the admiration towards the creative team behind the show, awe at the incredible storytelling, and wonder at the heartfelt emotion it elicited from me on a weekly basis, the emotion I have most in regards to LOST is gratitude. It changed my life.

Pioneering a New Age of TV

How LOST ushered in the new “Golden Age of Television”

10 years removed, it’s easy to forget how dangerous and different putting LOST on the air really was. In the years since, its success has spawned countless other serialized shows with big casts and overarching mysteries, and television has become even more of a respected medium. The past decade or so has even been referred to by many as the new “Golden Age of Television.”

But on September 22, 2004, LOST was the rebel.

Putting a show on the air that took as many risks as LOST did, and required such a massive production as LOST did, just wasn’t something networks did:

  • It was to be shot “on location” on the beaches and jungles of Hawaii.
  • It had a massive ensemble cast and dozens of recurring characters.
  • It needed actual flight wreckage to be shipped to the set.
  • It was so heavily serialized and full of mythology-building that viewers who missed episodes would immediately be out of the loop.

No one was doing this sort of thing. At all.
So much so, that the Head of ABC who gave the green light to LOST and its massive $14 million budget pilot episode – the most expensive in television historywas fired before the show even aired.

ABC was convinced that they had just forked over the biggest budget in TV pilot history for a show that would find a small cult audience and be quickly forgotten after it was cancelled half-way through its first season. 

Sure, serialized TV existed when LOST debuted. 24  was probably the most popular at the time, and Jack Bauer’s probably a little bit responsible for helping the network have the little confidence in LOST that it did.

But what was on the air were “serialized” in more of an episode-to-episode basis. If you missed an episode, you could easily be caught up from the “Previously on…” section (What did exist of highly-serialized shows, like The Sopranos or The Wire, were critically acclaimed but left to the exclusive channels like HBO with significantly lower ratings — and much fewer episodes to produce. Network television, especially 10 years ago, was a whole different ball game).

But no other heavily-serialized show was such a critical and commercial success (and right out of the gate) like LOST was.
Serialized storytelling was seen as a cancer in the TV world – “successful” shows were supposed to be ones that any casual viewer could tune into and enjoy.

LOST was not that show.

A TV Show that Didn’t Feel Like a TV Show

LOST changed the expectations of what TV could be

No series took more risks in the past few decades of TV than LOST.  It was always daring itself to up the ante, to be bigger and better than before. And it didn’t apologize for it.

JJ Abrams directed the two-hour pilot with a cinematic vigor unparalleled in the television world. It was a television show that looked and felt like a movie.
The writing was brilliantly layered.
The show was shot on film and was full of beautiful backdrops instead of backgrounds on a set.
It had a global scope, with characters and stories that took us all over the world.
It had an orchestra-recorded soundtrack composed by the incredible Michael Giacchino (who might just be the greatest film composer behind John Williams. The amount of beautiful music he created for LOST over 121 episodes is breathtaking. But more on that later).

It immediately sucked all 20 million viewers who tuned in for its first episode into a compelling and confounding adventure with a cast of characters who held more mysteries than the cryptic island itself.

And it may be hard to believe now, but the ingenious execution of flashbacks in the first few seasons of LOST was refreshingly creative, and it was unlike how any other show had employed the technique before. The flashbacks perfectly shaded in the on-island stories, and gave backstory to how a particular character was behaving in that episode.

And when LOST pulled off what may still be the biggest dramatic twist in television history with the switch to Flash-forward in the Season 3 Finale, it turned everything we knew about the show upside down. Just when the audience was getting comfortable and knew how each episode worked (or as “comfortable” as one could get with a show like LOST), a whole new world of possibilities flew open and everything was turned on its head — the end of the show was obviously not going to be about getting off the island. They already got off… and things were worse. And here was Jack, a drunk pathetic shell of the man he once was… saying “We have to go back!” The show was always reinventing itself, stretching its already-massive scope.

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LOST unapologetically went for broke on a weekly basis.  The writers didn’t pander to the uninitiated, or try to dumb things down for a wider audience (how quickly we’ve fallen to where shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are America’s most popular shows again).

It didn’t make an effort to coddle its audience – in fact, it intentionally tried to disorient them.

LOST trusted its viewers to do some of the work themselves and not have everything spoon-fed to them (which is why complaints that LOST left all its questions unanswered are particularly irksome — do you complain when the puzzle pieces in a box don’t come already put together? They gave you all the pieces you needed, but part of the fun is in the figuring out how it all fits together yourself).

 LOST was hard workwhich was why it was so great.

lost55It’s also almost impossible to write a “description” of what a typical episode of LOST looked like. There were no “typical” episodes of LOST

It segmented its beautifully-complex story into episodes with their own themes, and it dared to explore every genre of storytelling under the sun — a hardcore sci-fi time-travel episode could be followed by a sweeping romance story the next week, or a buddy comedy episode, or an action-adventure, or a heist, or a thriller, or a period piece in the 18th century.

You never knew what you were gonna get. 

It didn’t just entertain its audience either. It made them smarter — I can tell you a good deal about the philosophical leanings of Rousseau, Locke, and Hume; all about plot lines from numerous classical novels; a bit about quantum mechanics; and even the scientific conundrums behind time travel.
Because of LOST.

And as one of the most undeniably influential and popular shows to ever grace the small screen, it inspired debates about destiny and free will, asked big questions and wrestled with some of life’s most profound mysteries, and invited fans into a world full of wonder, imagination, and redemption.

These were not things Television was “supposed” to tackle.
But LOST did.


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LOST  Changed How the World Watches TV

“There was this unforeseen confluence of events where we were making a show that was perfect for discussion and debate, just at the moment where the internet was evolving into a place where people were forming communities where they could have those discussions and debates.”
Carlton Cuse (Co-Creator of LOST)

When ABC started airing a little series about a group of castaways on a deserted island a decade ago, no one could have known that LOST would usher in the new era of television-watching.

What I mean, of course, is that LOST changed the way we interact with the shows we watch. Forever.

LOST was so unlike anything that had come before it, that it was the perfect show for the changing medium to piggyback onto and ride into the new age of Television.
If LOST had come even a few years earlier, I’m not so sure it would have survived. Not because it didn’t deserve to.
But because the medium wouldn’t have been ready for it yet. 

In September 2004, Twitter was still two years from existence, Myspace was just growing, and Facebook was hardly a blip on anyone’s radar.
Message boards online were gaining popularity, and the internet — used by most consumers solely for research and email — was slowly becoming a more global “community” where people could discuss things instead of having to wait until they were around the water cooler at work the next day.

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LOST was really the first show to utilize, and benefit from, the age of the Internet.

For the first time, a series truly surpassed mere “Television show.” 

LOST was an experience.
And for this reason — aside from being, in my opinion, the greatest story ever told on the small screen — it is the most important and the most influential television show of our generation.

The timing was fortuitous, and everything seemed to line up perfectly to make LOST the phenomenon it became:

  • As the fervor for the show increased and the complexity of the storytelling increased, it became important for viewers to have outlets to discuss and explore their thoughts and findings about the show with others. This just as social media and online message boards were rising in popularity. 
  • LOST, a show that thrived off of its beautiful cinematography and picturesque locations, debuted right as HDTV’s were coming into common use for the modern consumer. 
  • Podcasts were just coming around and gaining steam as the show’s following quickly grew — a perfect format for fans, viewers, and “authorities” to converge together to discuss their thoughts and theories. More than any other subject, LOST-related Podcasts were far and away the most listened-to and and most-subscribed-to as iTunes began to introduce the format on its store.
  • The rising popularity of DVD Box sets and internet video really gave people the first opportunity to easily rewatch episodes — and LOST was a show that demanded repeat viewings. LOST was one of the first shows ever offered on iTunes, and one of the first shows to ever be offered for online streaming on the show’s website. For the first time, people were watching TV on the internetunheard of!

LOST was no longer just a “TV Show” —
It was an Experience

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LOST signaled the shift of TV-watching from a passive experience to an interactive one that began immediately after the episode ended — social media conversations, blog posts, recaps, podcasts, discussing theories with friends for hours on end, and searching feverishly online for clues. 

Half of what the experience of LOST was, was the 6 days between episodes. 

Which is one of the reasons its dispiriting to think about the new generation experiencing LOST for the first time without that.

lost61Sure, LOST will be amazing no matter how you watch it.
But watching LOST live with the rest of the world during this era of swift technological innovation and expanding TV expectations was just a totally different experience than binge-watching it over a few weeks on Netflix.

Neither way of experiencing the show may be argued as “better,” but there’s no denying that this notion of the world watching together each week definitely contributed a massive amount to what LOST became and affected how we originally viewed it.

My experience watching LOST was inherently tied to the experience I had between episodes every weeklistening to the podcasts, theorizing with friends at school, rewatching episodes for clues, referencing Lostpedia, and perusing the numerous LOST-related websites popping up all over the internet full of easter eggs, analysis, and pretty-far-out-there theories.

Part of the fun of LOST, as difficult as it was, was the waiting between episodes. Everyone in the world was experiencing it together at the same time, and that global perspective is just something you don’t get when you watch it on Netflix. 

And LOST was really the first — and last — show to benefit from this sort of worldwide internet fandom.
Even with shows that have had huge followings in recent years — Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, to name a few — the audiences just aren’t experiencing the story together in the same way.

We’ve shifted to a society where you can hardly talk about your favorite shows now without someone stopping the conversation because they “haven’t seen the last episode yet,” or are “still catching up,” or “are waiting til the season’s over to watch them.”

LOST was the game changer: The only real worldwide-phenomenon-experience of Television’s Internet age. Which is really important to remember.

“LOST cemented itself in the TV pantheon as the show with the most involving, entertaining, community-like experience. LOST was the show that made you want to feel a part of something, and a lot of that was because of how incredible its timing was.”
Adam Epstein

The internet and social media gave LOST its platform to become a global communal experience, but by the time LOST was out the door, technology was already changing so quickly that watching a TV show “live” was starting to become an antiquated idea.
The era of “appointment television” in the age of social media really began and ended with LOST.


Above All, LOST  was Fun

But perhaps the best part of LOST was how much fun it had — and how much fun it was to watch.

Too many dramas today are constantly dark, dreary, and too preoccupied with seeming “important” that they forget to have some fun as well.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But LOST helped remind us that it doesn’t have to always be that way.

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Even amidst the greatest tragedies, the characters of LOST made time to hold ping pong tournaments on the beach, make a golf course near their camp, tell “scary stories” around the fire, “rewrite” Star Wars, give each other nicknames, or joyride an old VW bus they found in the jungle.

LOST had a plethora of comedic moments, and wasn’t afraid to make fun of itself or jokingly acknowledge just how insanely crazy its story could get.

Even with all its grit and darkness, LOST was an incredibly positive show, full of hope and second chances. It celebrated the joys of life, remembered that a necessity for things like laughter, love, and acceptance are universal, and allowed its characters to wrestle with evil — but also presented them opportunities to choose the greater good.

So much of our popular entertainment revels in cynicism, focusing solely on people at their worst — exploring characters’ dark sides and seeing how bad people can really get.

Yes, LOST studied characters at their worst.
But it also studied them at their best.

We were well acquainted with Sawyer, the corrupt con man. But we also knew Sawyer the devoted lover, gentleman, and friend.

We knew Jack the pathetic drunkard; but we also knew the Jack who put the survivors of Oceanic 815 on his shoulders and led them fearlessly.

We knew Kate the murderer — but also the Kate the selfless mother.

We knew Charlie the addict whose mistakes continually hurt those around him — but also the Charlie who sacrificed himself so his friends could get off the island.

We knew Locke as the cynic blinded by life’s tragedies –– but also as the man of faith who longed to be a part of something bigger than himself.

LOST was incredibly fun to watch. The mysteries were tantalizing. The characters were compelling and ever-growing.  The symbolism was fascinating, and the exceedingly-intricate plot was puzzling in all the best ways.
When a clue in one episode lined up with something that happened 47 episodes before to explain what was really behind that mystery 18 episodes prior… there was nothing like it.


Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse

The two creators and head writers of the show became superstars in their own right because of the way they went out of their way to interact with fans, ran the hilarious Official LOST Podcast on a weekly basis, and dedicated themselves to making sure LOST retained its artistic integrity by not stretching out its story just because it was making money.

Jimmy Kimmel Live (Photo: ABC)

Before LOST, did the casual viewer even care who was writing episodes of shows they watched, or even know them by name?

Together, the duo worked out a deal with ABC to formulate an end date for the series three years out — never before had such a successful and popular program formulated its own end date so that it could work on crafting its story towards a satisfying conclusion. Usually a popular show just kept going until it petered out and died off.
The two could have easily translated the success of LOST into deals for other shows, movies, and more directly after the show took off. But instead, they dedicated their entire creative lives to making LOST as great as it could be, siring it all the way from it’s infancy up til it was given the opportunity to die with dignity.

Live Together, Die Alone

The characters of LOST were what made it so special

In the wake of its success, TV has been LOSTed to death, networks trying to pump out as many high-concept ensemble dramas as they can in hopes that one of them finds the same sort of following.
But none of the dozens of LOST rip-offs have stuck. Even “Heroes,” the only one that seemed to find an audience, quickly devolved into a steaming pile of crap.

All of these “copies” failed to grasp what made LOST so special — it wasn’t the dense layers of mythology or the explosions and shootouts in the middle of the jungle, really; those were just the icing on the cake.
No, what made LOST work so well was its characters.

EVANGELINE LILLY, EMILIE DE RAVIN, DOMINIC MONAGHAN

In the best stories, action emerges from character — not the other way around. Character always comes first, concept second. 

When LOST began, the mystery of the unseen was compelling… But, the most exciting mysteries were right in front us — WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE?

The study of WHO these people were and WHY they did what they did energized every plot line, every action, every shocking moment. Which is why, even in the midst of the most insane storytelling twists and turns, we cared deeply about what was going on — because we cared deeply about Jack. Kate. Charlie. Sawyer. Hurley. Sayid. Locke. Claire. Desmond. Ben. Jin. Sun. Juliet. And everyone else who filled this crazy little island.

I’m continually fascinated with the fact that LOST was full of so many characters, yet we got to know each and every one of them so deeply — deeper even than many characters who have whole shows to themselves. The writers were bold enough to craft an extremely character-driven series under the guise of a high-concept sci-fi drama on network television.

No other show was able to take such a wide, and varied, cast of characters and develop them in such natural and meaningful ways, or examine their lives to the depth that this show did.

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Through flashbacks and every other sort of narrative tool imaginable, we got an incredible sense of everything that did, does, and will make each of these characters who they are. It was “the richest cast of broken souls we’ve ever seen on TV” and we knew them intimately. We understood what made them take the actions they took, and each of their troubled pasts’ shaded their search for redemption on the island beautifully.

Even with the “monster” terrorizing the jungles around them, the mysterious “hatch” refusing them entrance with its strong steel doors, the “numbers” continually popping up, and the “others” stalking them from behind the trees, was anything more compelling than Charlie’s struggle to give up his drugs as Locke tried to help him overcome his addiction?:

Or Jack’s constant search for his father’s approval that led to this conversation a whole season in the making?

Or discovering that Locke was in a wheelchair (!) before the crash!?

Or Desmond’s years-long search to reconnect with the love of his life, Penny?

Or Ben, once the man seemingly in control of everything on the island, watching as everything he’s built slowly crumbles around him?

And there were a hundred other character arcs LOST brought us on, inviting us into these castaways’ imperfect, messy lives as they struggled for redemption, yearned to be a part of something bigger and better than themselves, and wrestled their own demons.

Charlie’s death at the end of Season 3 would have no impact if you didn’t know him better than you knew your best friend. Ben’s daughter’s execution would hardly matter if you didn’t know that his love for Alex was the only good thing about him. And Sawyer murdering the man responsible for his parents’ death would just be another scene in another show easily forgotten if you hadn’t spent several years learning his tormented history.
Phil Pirrello

All of LOST’s main character’s changed dramatically over the course of six seasons, in ways that felt both organic and thematically rich. It was fascinating to watch these vibrantly drawn characters come to turning points in their lives and slowly change over time.

Remember, for example, where LOST‘s “Man of Science,” Jack, and “Man of Faith,” Locke, are as things are coming to a head in the end of the first season:

Four seasons later, these two have essentially switched places — Jack, after spiraling into a crippling depression and suffering a series of events that leads him to fight to return to island however he can, is convinced that “the island isn’t done with us.”
Locke — whose death acts as the central tragedy to LOST‘s overarching narrative — is a jaded, washed up, and bitter man, convinced his faith in the island was all for not, and who ultimately comes to the decision to take his own life.

And think about Benjamin Linus — that nasty, vile, genocidal maniac who was responsible for so much bloodshed, and so much heartbreak our castaways suffered.
Yet by the last seasons of the show, after his world has started to crumble around him, Ben embarks on a soul-searching journey that brings him to a place where the audience is ultimately starting to root for him.  As he speaks from the depths of his heart, vulnerable for the first time, we — strangely — begin to feel complete empathy for him. By some senses of the word, he’s basically a hero by the time the story wraps up.

Our investment in the characters is what made it all matter.

The patience LOST had to let its characters develop was unparalleled. So many shows seem to want the audience to know exactly who all their characters are within the first 10 minutes of the first episode. But think about how revolutionary LOST was — we get a glimpse of all the survivors in the first episode, but pretty much everyone besides Jack, Kate, and Charlie has to wait their turn.

lost70 We didn’t even learn Locke was wheelchair-bound (the one defining characteristic that gives him so much depth and invigorates every action he takes) until the fourth hour in. We don’t even know Hurley thinks he’s cursed until 18 hours in. LOST reveled in, and took time to bask in, the not-knowing.

The mysteries surrounding these people were so enrapturing and enthralling — which was, of course, the magic of the first season (and the fourth season as well, when we got to meet them in the future all over again). The mysteries of the island may have been exciting, but it was getting to know the survivors of Oceanic 815 that had the world so captivated.

 The Music

Michael Giacchino is the Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar-winning composer behind the soundtracks of Up, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, The Incredibles, Super 8, Planet of the Apes, Ratatouille, and lots more.

Oh, and he scored every single episode of LOST

It’s impossible to talk about the emotional tone of LOST, or the dramatic storytelling without mentioning its sweeping, poignant, chilling, and always moving musical themes by Giacchino. Not only did he create memorable, haunting, and beautiful pieces of music, he did it for every single hour-long episode on a weekly basis. 

Conducting a live orchestra for a television show was extremely rare, and his wide spectrum of pieces played perfectly over all the crazy adventures and powerful moments our characters experienced. You can argue about what may be the greatest show to ever be on television, but there’s no argument on this front:  LOST had the greatest musical soundtrack in the history of television.


The Acting

And how can we not acknowledge the incredible tour de force in acting LOST presented us in every episode? The gathering of acting talent on the show was incredible — especially when you remember that they were all generally unknown actors, save Matthew Fox.

lost22Each week these people acted their butts off, giving brilliant life to their brilliantly-written characters. Anytime Terry O’Quinn (Locke) or Michael Emerson (Ben) were onscreen was something special, and whenever they spent scenes interacting together, it was pure magic.

LOST was a show that won award after award in the acting department — for a variety of different performers — and had six different people nominated for Emmy’s for their work on the show.

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And even though O’Quinn and Emerson are the obvious standouts, it’s impossible to ignore Matthew Fox‘s nuanced portrayal of the broken hero Jack over six years, and the number of layers he gave the ever-changing character. Or Evangeline Lilly‘s comfortability in the role of the girl-next-door/outlaw Kate in her first-ever speaking role (!), or Josh Holloway‘s snarky rebel Sawyer, Nestor Carbonell‘s stoic and confident Richard Alpert, Henry Ian Cusick‘s love-struck time-traveler Desmond, or Daniel Dan Kim‘s performance as Jin, who beautifully transitioned from abusive lover to dedicated husband. Or a number of other incredible performances spanning the 121 hours in which LOST‘s story unfolded.

 Evangeline Lilly

And let’s not forget about Kate. She was a total babe.

I would have so asked her out if she wasn’t a murderer/baby-kidnapper or whatever.
Eh… nobody’s perfect.



A Beautiful “End”

“The LOST Finale was… the story that we wanted to tell, and we told it. No excuses. No apologies. I look back on it as fondly as I look back on the process of writing the whole show.”
— Damon Lindelof 

(**SPOILER WARNING for this section**)

Alas, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the show’s controversial finale at some point. It’s almost required to address the finale when talking about LOST now.

And even though backlash to the show’s finale seems to trump all discussion of everything else about it, LOST’s ending is not as despised as the zeitgeist would have you believe.
The finale to a show like LOST could never satisfy a casual viewer who just tuned in to see the ending, or people who never paid enough attention to the story to know what was really important the whole time anyways. And it was never meant to.

LOST crafted one of, if not the, best stories the show ever told in its final episode.
Remember, this was an Emmy-nominated script, and the majority of people who actually invested the work into following LOSTmyself included – were ultimately satisfied with how the show closed.

“The End” had pretty much everything you could ever want in a final episode, and more — returning characters, tears, action, romance, laughs, twists, and a closing sequence that tied the show together perfectly.

All of LOST’s numerous characters seemed to get their own special goodbye, Matthew Fox gave what might be his best performance of all in the show’s closing hour, and the entire cast put their all into telling a story that made even grown men cry about 11 different times.

Yet the vocal minority – who are typically people who never put in the commitment LOST demanded – rather boisterously insist that LOST failed to stick the landing.

The cynics and the sporadic onlookers don’t get to be
the ones 
who write the history of what LOST was. 

I could spend a few more pages writing about everything the LOST finale meant, how it brilliantly brought together everything the show had been building toward, and how it was the perfect way for the show to give its final bow. But that’s whole different article.
LOST wasn’t without its faults, but the times it didn’t work were rare.

People wanted answers — and they got them. But you had to look for a number of them hidden within the vast tapestry of the show yourselves. That was the beauty of LOST.


I won’t get into a lot of the “answers” the show gave, but for crying out loud:
THEY WERE NOT DEAD THE WHOLE TIME.
Everything that happened on the island was real, it was all important, and it all really took place. I feel like if you actually watched the show, it was hard to miss this. Yet, this ludicrous takeaway is still thrown around by many people to this day.
That was the whole point of the ending: It was because of the time these people had spent together, shaping each other and making the most important decisions of their lives with one another, that they “remembered” each other, overcame their past demons, and made a way to move on together. The time they spent together was what mattered most.
You can like that ending or not. But it goes a lot deeper than “They were dead the whole time” or “it was purgatory” or “they went to heaven.” It was so much more than that.


“The End” may not have been the ending you would have chosen, but there can be no doubt about the emotional power it held and the reasoning behind the writers of LOST ending it the way they did.

I loved how so much was said in so little words — Hurley’s “you were a really good number two,” and Ben’s “and you were a great number one” — summing up an entire lifetime’s worth of experiences we never got to see.
Locke’s poignant forgiveness of Ben communicated through a glance across the table.
Kate’s “I missed you Jack,” speaking volumes about the entire lifetime (and death) she spent waiting for him. Everyone finally found each other again, and it made everything OK.

LOST gave us a deeply emotional and incredibly cathartic conclusion to story of these characters’ lives, leaving us with a beautiful piece of television as it left the small screen forever… And you’re still complaining that it didn’t give you all the physics behind the island’s electromagnetism?


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The Legacy of LOST 

“We told the story that we wanted to tell, and I stand by it. I’m proud of it. It’s enormously rewarding that it’s meant so much to a lot of people. As a storyteller, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Carlton Cuse

Every television show you watch and love today was, in one way or another, affected by or brought about because of LOST. It revolutionized the television industry, and told the most imaginative, complicated, innovative, and satisfying story to ever unfold on the small screen.

And I miss it like crazy.

On September 22, 2004, LOST proved that genre storytelling wasn’t just for the geeks in the niche corners of the viewership. There was an audience out there for complex, creative stories that demanded commitment as long as it was well-told and ripe with incredible characters.

Even 10 years later, it’s still hard to watch the Pilot episode and not be floored by how exceptional it is. Just as a piece of entertainment, and as a piece of art. It’s more exciting, more thrilling, and a lot more alive and full of imagination and possibilities than anything on Network TV today.

Other shows will come and go, but there will never be another LOST. There’s no chance of the experience it gave the world even being remotely repeated.

For me, LOST wasn’t just a TV Show – it was a deeply affecting and emotional adventure.

It’s hard to believe that this show has been a part of my life for almost a decade, and to think about how much of a role it has played in my life.
(Sometimes I still can’t even believe that I once snuck onto the set in Hawaii, and basically walked around talking to the crew and spending time with some of the actors over a lunch break!)

I know I’m talking about LOST like it was a  close friend. But it kind of was.

I miss the characters. The mysteries. The conversations it sparked among friends. Staying up late to watch repeats with my parents. The crackpot theories. The ravenous search for clues between episodes. Hurley saying “Dude.” The mindtrips. Sawyer’s nicknames. The hatch. Imaginary peanut butter. Fish biscuits. The smoke monster. Darlton. Jokes about Jack’s beard. Giacchino’s beautiful score. “You All Everybody.” The connections. The numbers. Penny’s boat. Time-traveling bunnies. Scott and Steve – or wait, is it Steve and Scott? The fans. The community around the show. Everything.

The funny thing is, outsiders might be prone to say “Well, I already heard how LOST ends. Now there’s no reason to watch it.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth with LOST. It was the ultimate adventure that reveled in the journey as much as the destination.

Don’t try and fit it into your box of what you think it “should have been.” Enjoy what it was.

It was a show about redemption. Second chances. Learning to love. Living in community. Needing others. Growing. Changing. The great mysteries of life.

LOST was a show about ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances – a story about “lost” people, in all senses of the word, and how many of them came to be found.
It was their journeys. Their stories.

I don’t really know how else to end a discussion of LOST, other than with “thanks.”

Thanks for the late nights spent on the edge of my seat, the laughs, the twists, the turns. For entertaining me, inspiring me, educating me, and challenging me. For characters I could see myself in, root for, and watch grow in ways I’ve never seen before.

So, thanks LOST.
Part of who I am today is owed to the many adventures I went on with Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Charlie, Ben, Desmond, Hurley, and all the rest of the wondrous crowd of characters that filled this insane little world you created.

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

No infringement intended. All photos shown are property of ABC, Lost, and their appropriate copyright holders. They were originally released by ABC and their owners for the purposes of promoting ‘Lost,’ and are only used within this commentary for purposes of necessary context, and not in their full resolution. The photos are used in this non-commercial post within the rights of Fair Use for analysis, research and commentary.