I'm going to try to get through this without any spoilers, just talking about the show in general terms. I do not consider it a spoiler to say that there are genre elements in Lost. But if you want no discussion of Lost at all or haven't watched anything and have somehow managed to avoid any information about the show at all and want to keep it that way, this entry is not for you.
Without further ado.
Lost, fuck you.
I'm not going to complain that you've been making shit up all along--I know you have and I expect that for long-term storytelling. It's fine. I'm not going to be like OMG WE WON'T GET ANSWERS IT'S JUST LIKE TWIN PEAKS because it's obvious we aren't getting answers and I don't need an Exposition Episode and Twin Peaks had kind of a badass ending that you just know Lost would never have the balls to try. But I do know what's wrong with Lost, particularly what's wrong with Lost this season, and I'm about to throw some truth down here.
Lost is a science fiction show.
Now, they haven't wanted that label from the beginning. First, they assured us that everything had a real-world explanation and it was not science fiction or fantasy at all. This is obviously crap at this point, but they continue to insist in multiple interviews that Lost is a character-driven drama and not a genre show at all.
Oh, I get why you don't want the badge, kids. It may get you the geek love but no one will call your show art and the big meanie procedurals and high-budget crime dramas will kick sand in your show's face and laugh at you. There is a genre bias
Incidentally, it's not like Lost is alone in this. Every time some producer claims a show isn't science fiction while standing in front of a huge spaceship set baby robot Jesus cries. Yes, BSG, I'M TALKING TO YOU.
But here's the thing, guys. If you don't want to get tarred with the SF brush, you don't get to play with our toys, either. That means you do not get any of the following exciting action figures: monsters, immortal beings, time travel, alternate universes, glowcaves, Egyptian mythology, electromagnetic magic, insta-healing, psychic powers, Dark Lords, Lords of Light, magical touched by an angel fatecakes, teleportation, mystical islands, or bodily possession. Get your sticky hands off them--you'll only break them. Make a sitcom and shut up, if you want to howl about not being SF. Make a gritty procedural. Make Thirty-Something, I don't know. But don't make an SF show and then prance around telling everyone it's SUPER REALISTIC while trying to conceal your painful giant quantum rabbit erection. You can't trot out all those shiny SF baubles and then refuse to develop them or treat them seriously. I've said it before: the difference between realism and non-realism is that realism has no interest in consistent world-building or rules, or even making anything have narrative logic, because those artists think their work takes place in the real world and therefore requires none of these things. The real world is already built, yo. It doesn't need explanations.
That's why nothing in Lost makes sense. Because to make it make sense you have to admit it's a science fiction show and explain why things happen. You have to treat your own story with respect, and not just wave your hands in the air and blabber about your characters which you never bothered to make engaging in the first place BECAUSE YOU WERE WRITING A SCIENCE FICTION SHOW AND THE MYTHOLOGY MADE UP FOR THE LACK OF AWESOME CHARACTERS. Jesus, it's like Golden Age SF Excuse 101.
But the thing is, in their bitter, black hearts they know that the SF toys are COMPLETELY AWESOME. There is literally not a single realist show that could not be made more awesome by adding robots, monsters, time travel, or magic. You can try to come up with one, but you will fail. Why do you think Buffy and her unfortunately step-children The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, etc are so loved? Because they are 90210 with vampires, and that is better than just regular 90210. Likewise, Lost is Survivor with SF, and that's what made it great. The tropes are interesting and fascinating and they get the geeks in front of the television--and geeks will love you forever, even if you make bad art. Geeks forgive. Geeks endure. This is also why most long-running realist shows throw in a genre episode--under the guise of a dream sequence or a crazycapade or whatever--somewhere in there. These things make an audience hold their breath.
But in an attempt to avoid being genre-shamed Lost has been trampled into the ground and made truly terrible (I'm sorry, this season is just unforgiveable on the heels of the amazing Season 5) by what is, in essence, a bunch of loud kids running into the SF playroom and busting up all the toys because they don't know how to use them. I'm afraid the lesson of Lost will be the same as Twin Peaks and the X-Files: never make a mythology-based arc show because it will only end up disappointing the audience. No answers can ever satisfy.
ONLY IF YOU SUCK AT WRITING THINGS, PEOPLE.
The lesson should be: if you use SF tropes you have to treat them as seriously as you treat realist tropes. As you do character motivation and miscarriages and adultery. You wouldn't never reveal who someone had an affair with--that would be stupid storytelling. Or much less reveal their face but never give them a name. That makes the audience disengage. Causation exists. Treat the SF in your show as a character. If the SF travels in time, then you have to close all the time loops and make a stab at having it be important to the overall narrative. If the SF makes people immortal, you have to give us the how and why and more importantly how it affects them. Just like if a person in your story got pregnant, she would eventually have to have the baby or people would be upset and confused. Do the characters get closure? Then the SF gets closure. You don't just get to drop things like they're hot because they're the SF parts so you think they don't matter.
Damn. I don't want Lost to kill arc-y shows and make people be all smug about that shit so all we have left on TV is episodic procedurals where everything is the same every week in case someone tunes in to something they've never seen before and jumps out a window in panic and terror. But it will. It and BSG, with that unforgiveable ending. Just know, from here on in, when someone says their show isn't science fiction when it obviously is, what they mean is their show isn't good. Lies do not become us, gentlemen.
Lastly, Darlton, please stop giving interviews because you guys sound like jerks and you can't even remember what you said/promised/insisted about this show last week. Moffat, you too.