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What Went Wrong with HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’?

What Went Wrong with HBO's 'The Leftovers'?

HBO has a remarkable success rate, if you think about it, from “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Newsroom,” “True Detective” and “True Blood” to “Game of Thrones.” All these series mix TV and film creative elements with strong characters, a fair dose of sex and the good old uber-violence. So what went wrong with HBO’s latest series from “Lost” creator Damon Lindelof, which debuted to mixed reviews (here’s Variety’s Brian Lowry) and ratings Sunday night? It had all of those things. (HBO is making the first show available until Sunday July 6 on Yahoo.)

First, the advance TV spots looked grim. Two per cent of the world’s population vanishes in an instant, as poof! the baby vanishes from the rear car seat. Per the well-reviewed Tom Perrotta novel, how does everyone cope? Three years later, the story focuses on one struggling family, as single dad police chief (unbelievably played by too-tattooed and stylish Justin Theroux) and his misbehaving teenage daughter deal with the loss of his wife. His son works for one how-to-adapt guru, while a white-garbed, silent, cigarette-smoking cult confronts the survivors in its own way. Lindelof is trying to snag us with wanting to solve the various mysteries, but fails to engage us with these troubled characters. I was often confounded by their behavior. Why would a group of teens voluntarily bury a stranger’s dead dog? (Here’s Lindelof talking to THR.)

And early buzz on the Twittersphere was dour–as was reaction to Sunday’s pilot, including “confused,” “bleak” and “heavy stuff.” And as I watched the show I could see why. I really don’t feel compelled to watch the rest of this resolutely downbeat series. Executive produced by showrunner Lindelof and adapted by him and Perrotta with co-exec producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, who produced Perrotta’s “Little Children,” these gifted folks seem to have lost their way. Subsequent episodes may, of course, improve. But isn’t it the job of the first one to seduce us into wanting more?

So on Sunday night, partly due to a soft debut for its lead-in, the latest season of “True Blood” with 3.1 million viewers (is vampire fatigue setting in?), “The Leftovers” premiered to just 1.8 million eyeballs for its initial telecast, far below the network’s previous touted dramas. For comparison: last January HBO’s “True Detective” lured 2.33 million viewers, in June 2012 “The Newsroom” 2.14 million, and in June 2011, “Game of Thrones” 2.22 million.

The question is: how many viewers will tune back after sampling this dour first episode? And will HBO renew the show? Cancelations are rare–race track drama “Luck” comes to mind (three horses dying on set provided an excuse). Even the low-rated “Carnivale” limped along for several seasons, as did David Simon’s success d’estimes “The Wire” and “Treme.”

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Ashley Wilkes

I have been an independent documentary filmmaker for two decades and it was not uncommon to call outtakes "leftovers". That’s what this movie seemed like to me – a bunch of outtakes from an attempt at making a movie – outtakes strung together willy-nilly to make a movie that is a really nothing more than a bad joke on the viewer. I don’t see how Leftovers can make it another season. It’s simply a really bad movie. Fair acting, no structure, and, when all is said and done, a failed attempt at creating a theater of the absurd – type plot. HBO, I’m sorry, but this one is a real bomb. I say "scrap it ".


This second season sucks

Shelly Jane

It’s a big heap of metaphors. I get it. It’s also satyr. There’s components of someone’s loss and family dysfunction driving the interpersonal dynamics. There were parts that made me laugh which may not have been intended for comedy. However, it’s well acted but somber and heavy with melancholy. All the characters seems like charactures of ppl in recovery. That’s what I can’t relate to. The AA symbolism is upheld by the silent smokers in white. Yet, it’s mocking religion at the same time. It’s deep but one sided in it’s attempt at intellectualizing the complexities of human drama. None of the women seem like whole persons. The men either. They are all fragments of someone’s imagination coupled with life experience but I wonder if there is evidence of true spiritual evolution in the synthesis and molding of these characters. I’m mixed.


Uh, Carnivale had 2 seasons. Pretty easy to research that.


Here we have a different position, but de gustibus non est disputandum. In my personal opinion was "The Leftovers" simply a format and stuff I was waiting all the time. Surely, here is an awaitment problem. Usually do a mystery series want us to solve a mystery. Just "Leftovers" is not about a mystery, it’s about socialization of a post-apocalyptic human community. I found everything very convincing – acting, screenplay, story, atmosphere. The only thing could do wrong with "The Leftovers" were that disaster if HBO will cancel it.


Are you all nuts? This show is amazing. Since when did everyone rely on HBO to deliver happy-go-lucky series? Boardwalk Empire? The Sapranos? Game of Thrones? If being uplifted is your criteria you are looking in the wrong place. I happen to think that quality comes from the actors and the sets and the way it was shot and the writing. All these things seem well represented in this series. If you want something less intense go find a romantic comedy.


People will learn to avoid anything with Lindelof’s name on it!

John H.

I couldn’t even get through the whole episode. Terrible. Same old tired teen angst storyline.


Carnivalé got two seasons. I’d hardly call that several. HBO is notorious for not giving shows a chance to find an audience. The Leftovers is brilliant.


Just watched the first episode, it was absolutely terrible!! Never made any sense, worst show I have seen in ages…


Lazy writing. Thats whats wrong with this show (and what was wrong with True Detective btw). What is wrong with HBO lately? Compare this with FX's Fargo, well it doesn't even compare.

chad bowers

This show is not the show you think it is. If you do not find joy in the realism captured here it is only because you have not viewed it from the correct frame of mind. This show does not hold your hand instead it just drops you in the deep water. It requires the viewer to think deeply about what would really happen to governments, people, family relationships after such an event. I almost did not bother with this show because I had assumed that it was related to the ludicrous Christian book series. It is not.


This show is not worth watching for another season. Its depressing, violent, and cannot capture my attention to sit through an entire episode. Why did they renew this?


If a show confuses critics, it's off to a great start. At this point, I think being a critic is the last stop before brain death.


Love this show each episode get's better. Very smart well written series. Seems more like a movie then television which HBO series are known for. I think it might be one of those shows that get's more popular the second season. It's hard to watch for some but that's why I appreciate it. It's not easy to write and act out a show where everyone is miserable. It's still enjoyable and exciting to watch I like the character's and the cinematography is wonderful.


I wont watch the Leftovers anymore because I watched John From Cincinnati and everything about this "experience" reminds me of that. Its nowhere near the same show but its the same HBO parlor trick of selling an adult soap opera. The Leftovers has no real conclusions or answers so its all about the relationships right? Thats exactly what soap operas do!!! Oh but this time there are production values, crazy dogs and cigarette smoking cults so that makes it art. Just kidding.

On a serious note though, back to the John from Cincinnati comparison. People's reactions midway through the one JFC season are mirrored perfectly here……."i don't understand it" or …"its all about the nuances in performance and the journey not the resolution. "

Well I hope you like the journey cause all we got in the end of John From Cincinnati was a steaming pile of sh*t. Have fun!


Wow! Thought I was alone in "just not getting" (or even want to) this ambiguous leftover stew. After the 2nd episode of Leftovers, I started mocking it online. I watch it when I can catch it, because I'm PAYING for HBO. Probs: Can't identify with any character. No good guys, no heroes, no anti-heroes, no bad guys, just all the people who always irritated the sh*t out of me my whole life all in one little town. It's kinda how I felt after the 1st season of "Newsroom", good idea that became a bad soap. Another one bites the dust.


This show is AWESOME> JT is shockingly intense while he struggles as a broken father and husband. His desperation to reach his wife and children is gut wrenching. Bravo to Mr. Theroux for a fabulous bit of acting. He made me forget he dates Jennifer Aniston :)

My only fear, is that all these mysterious and questions will never be answered. How awful if we ever know anything about why, what, who. Are the voices real? Is someone pulling the strings? HBO generally does not condone all these questions left up in the air, it is deep and focused and drive, and they know what hooks people and what keeps them coming back for more, hope this is the case.


This is a GREAT show… for making mediocre shows look great, by comparison. Even with the lack of good TV at the moment, the horribleness of this story is evident, and magnified by the knowledge that there is never a CONCLUSION! You can be snobbish and say it's unsophisticated to ask as much from any story, but the necessary elements of a great story will always remain. Although I will say, the acting is very well done and the show definitely makes me want to see those ugly cigarette smoking hags get punched in the face, and does provide some satisfaction in that area. I may continue watching this dismal show just to see that cult leader get it. I guess I'll just have to go with my own conclusion likely involving aliens.


So far I am loving this show. Maybe its not for everyone but to me at least its got interesting characters, premise and great acting. Possibly people are still pissed off a Lindlof for Lost which at I am but its a good show and Lost was too. I have read the book and it doesnt give you any answers to why the rapture happened. Maybe knowing that you wont get an answer for that might make it better to watch, allow you to focus on the other good points.


I don't think anyone really understands what is going on here…….you asking the ultimate "why" is pointless…just like the "why" everyone disappeared, with each faction claiming their own answers such as the religious reasons to the nihilistic reasons with different characters of the show. The whole cult represents the pointlessness of asking "why"….That is why they do not speak and smoke cigarettes as to resemble asking "why" is just a waste of breath. I think it is speaking to something bigger here, where century after century people need countless reasons for things and reassurance in order to feel comfortable, such as what life means, when in reality no definite answer will ever come about. It's all a waste of breath. I think the people who must have answers are meant to fall off. Just enjoy it and stop asking questions.


I like the unusual. But I managed to sit through the first 2 episodes of The Leftovers and just felt bleak. After three years I wouldn't expect a simmering frustration. We're simply too self-absorbed for that. I'd expect a renaissance of religion of all kinds, and a fatalistic, hedonistic attitude for others. What I wouldn't expect was such an emphasis on dog-killing. Haven't seen the expected surge of people rescuing pets whose owners disappeared. They're everywhere, but apparently not in this town? Killing dogs is a cheap emotional trick. Also, it might be nice if one didn't have to watch TV with reading glasses. The cult which writes all communication is frustrating for those who can't read at distance. They don't always have characters communicate in such a way that the viewer understands what was written. After two shows, I had to step away. On one hand I don't like to leave a story partially told. On the other hand, I have no desire to see it through as is. I would have loved to know what would have happened in another season of Carnivale.


The show is following the book most of the time. It was a great book. I enjoy enjoy the additions to the show. Each episode is disturbing on some ways but also fascinating in others. I look forward to each week.


Remember the self harm game spin the cellphone? Watching this show is somewhat like burning your forearm with a red hot fork.


I like the show. It helps me with my own sense of depression. It's just entertainment folks. Lighten up.


IT'S A TRAP: Don't be fooled everybody. This show will dance on the edge of easy issues that any healthy human would be intrigued by. The rapture. The departed. The religious cults. The weirdly behaving dogs. The strained father/son relationship. The dreams. The Lolita relationship between the protagonist and his daughter's friend. The protagonist's love interest.

Nothing will ever be resolved. You will NEVER get a definitive answer. Some people call it sophistication to just dance around a provocative topic and then let the audience fill in their own gaps (Lindelof actually said that's his technique.) This is not sophistication; its a cop-out and its cowardly.

Get some courage and actually create a story with a real punchline… a real story; a real conflict. An empty room actually looks smaller than a room beautifully filled with the right mix of plants, lighting, furniture, paintings and accessories. In the same way this show is small and empty.

The acting is well done. Great realistic teenagers.
The characters are compelling; great story beginnigs
The premise is fantastic.

But know this, they will all just disappear like a supernatural monster made of smoke on a mysterious island.

To say that the people who do NOT like The leftovers are stupid or not sophisticated is just like saying, "You're not smart/sophisticated enough to see the emperor's new clothes." Mark my words, every episode will dangle a new or existing mystery and in the end you will have nothing definitive. The final resolution(s) will be:

1. Well "you know what happened"… wink wink nudge nudge.
2. It was all just a dream… or was it?
3. The ending was purposely left open so you could figure it out.
4. Its a metaphor.
5. You the audience are the departed/leftovers.

We are all watching and intrigued… because we want a good story.. Humans have wanted that since our origin. But just because we are watching a show to see if it will have a good ending does NOT make it a good show; it makes us human.


I waited a long time seeing the trailers for this. Just watched the opening episode, and I search for answers went to the gurus that you all are to find out wtf is going on. Ahh I see even by 7 th episode is still meh of a show. But wait, I really wonder if it turns a brilliant turn somewhere and then everyone will be jumping all over it and it will rise. At least I'm a positive thinker and always look for the silver lining. I hope this has one. I'll keep perusing sites to see how the season ends, then watch it, if it ever becomes the big hit that it really could be. But until now I like gratification quickly, so I have better things to do, than to wait to see. Even american horror was better than this. So thanks and I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels cheated, at lest it's was only an hour though, it would be too grueling for other episodes. It could have made so many cool twists in the plot though. Gosh sorry if you like it, and I consider myself diverse in taste for the eclectic not the run of your mill stories either. Now off to puff a cigarette


Wow I see a lot of dumb MF's on here who need instant gratification or just can't think. I no longer wonder why the US is in the toilet, it's because of idiots who don't like things because they don't understand it. You people should be fed to a meat grinder.


Nothing? What a lazy blanket review.

Terry Fraser

Interesting premise, horrible execution. The depths of despair felt by people so many years after the event is ridiculous, and the even more ridiculous reaction lf the GR makes a mockery of people that actually lose loved ones and learn to continue their lives with dignity after a matter of months. Life is for the living and anyone that has suffered a loss realizes how unrealistic the reaction to this is. I watch it because it's different and interesting, as opposed to all the "same old, same old" but it's a shame that this show doesn't reach it's potential.

Alicia Batista

I think so far this show is remarkable, I'm hooked, I love it. Anyone who claims that the Leftovers is "not attention grabbing" or "has no plot" or thinks that this series "sucks" is either small minded and cannot grasp its complexity, or has been made so uncomfortable by the content that they can do nothing else but slander. Watch again people and pay close attention because the Leftovers is brilliant.


I feel like the trailer for this show tricked me. The first 10 minutes of the show was exciting, getting me prepared for what I thought was going to be a attention grabbing series. Nope, by the 2nd episode, I still have no clue what's going on, the most exciting thing to happen thus far is the random deer and one of the GR getting the grits beat out of her. There is nothing for me to say "Oh i can't wait to see if "X" happens in the next episode" because the weird and random stories never lead anywhere. Too many unanswered questions, too many random plots, not a smidge of a clue about anything. It's almost as if they figure the way to keep peoples attention is to fake them out into thinking the plot is going somewhere when its not. The GR, the chain smoking, the dog killing, the guru with what looks like statutory"yellow fever", the annoying teen daughter trope, the wanna be hero whose actually a pedo's unknowing sidekick, and now, whatever agency is going around wiping out the supposed cult. The only reason I even watch the show is when there isn't anything else on and to see if anything is ever getting explained. I doubt there will be a season 2. What will it be about? Oh suddenly the GR only eat peanutbutter sandwiches and they only do it while wearing clown noses. COME the F on.


I think the problem with this show is there is no plot…where is this story going? The premise of the show is decent… Another major problem is that by episode 6, we should have some answers.

We should be finding out more about Guilty Remnant, why the mother joined them, and maybe even have some people pursuing WHY the people were raptured. I will keep watching…but I don't think it's going anywhere and I predict we won't know anything new by the end of this season!


I hope this show isn't replacing True Blood because it sucks. And not in a good way. It's very boring and hard to keep my attention. Stopped watching after third episode.


So I have just watched 30 mins of episode 6 and got so board I turned it off and decided to leave it at that. I always believe in giving new shows a fair crack at the whip and if it shows no promise by episode 6 then it is not worth anyone's time. Don't bother with this please it is a total waste of time, I wish i could have my time back. I should have known this was by the creator of Lost. Poor story, lack of character connection and no answers but more questions. The confusing style worked for a few seasons of Lost but really is not going to trick us again.


This show sucks. Period.


This show sucks. Period.


Am I the only one who likes that show?


Last week was my last time for viewing "The Leftovers". I usually like this type of show, but I found this one so frustrating. What the hell is it with those white garbed, silent, smokers? I've had enough, poo on you HBO. Far too many 'good' shows to watch rather than waste my viewing time on this one. There is a lot of negativity about this show on the net. For the most part, I agree with those I have read. By the way, after spending a lot of viewing time with the show 'Lost' and then it got stupid near the end with a terrible ending, what can you expect since the same writer is the guilty one for 'The Leftovers', I love HBO but they goofed on this one.

Keith Hayes

Horrible episode tonight. Done with the show. Huge disappointment.


I lost interest as I find the show to moving to slowly. I know no more in episode 5 than in episode 1.


Huge disappointment. The premise sounded so interesting but it has turned out to just be a huge mess. I do not like anyone in the show. There is no one to care about and most of it does not make sense. I am on episode 4 and I cannot take it anymore. Cancel it, who cares. Does anyone like this show?


I've recorded this show and watched 3 episodes in the hope that it is SO bad it's worth watching. Here are my answers to previous questions: The GR's smoke because the show is underwritten by Philip Morris. Same goes for the guy who shoots dogs – he was written into the script by NRA donations. Does anyone expect decent writing and compelling narrative arcs from the co-creator of "Lost"? Worst of all is the bad acting led by Justin Theroux who must be having hemorrhoid issues on set. The only actor looking comfortable in a role is Carrie Coon (Nora), rising star of stage and screen (and real-life wife of playwright/actor Tracy Letts). If this series makes it into Season 2 we should boycott HBO (or smoke a cigarette in protest). The GR's should be airlifted next!


I tried to watch true detective made it thru 2 episodes didn't like either detective ( I usually like matthew maccoughnah ) didn't understand what show was supposed be about, BUT leftovers is even worse why do GRs smoke & stopped talking ??? There really are cops out there with tattoos so that didn't bother me but what did he do that wife & son joined cults ?? 2nd episode was all about ex-reverend but why did he loose followers It at least tried to give a little background I thought maybe each episode was going to be about different "people"
At least the writers told us that the 2% included bad people too
I have read all of the left behind books and this show is NOTHING like that series


I guess no one likes these "Leftovers".


Its not that these people are "enigmatic". Its that they are totally unrealistic. The premise, that part of the population just vanished, is fine….but the reaction to those that didn't (the Guilty Remnants) is to dress all in white, never speak afterwards, and just smoke all the time? Why would they do that? Why did the main protagonist's (police chief Theroux, who is not at all credible as a cop, and has an equally incompetent police force to boot) wife leave him and her kids to join this cult? What's the purpose? Why is his teenage daughter so angry at him, but not her? And why is her best friend always at her house, running around in her bra and panties (no wonder the guy's had dreams of her). If the GRs can just stand outside someone's home or business, what's stopping their relatives (like the chief's daughter) from storming the GR house, demanding their loved ones to come home? I could go on, but the show just doesn't make sense, and is not worth the effort.


Too pretentious to be fun, and too silly to be anything else. Story failure.


One mystery is why is the main character so depressed? I understand that part of the population is missing, but none of them was his family. His daughter is an asshole too. This show is just annoying.


This show is terrible. Why are those crazy people constantly smoking? That's the only mystery of this show.


What went wrong? This show is super boring. I cannot keep my eyes open. And I am pretty sure it won't make any sense. ever.


What went wrong with The Leftovers? Somebody actually greenlighted the script, that's what went wrong. It's not even a train wreck: it's like watchin a bowl of oatmeal get cold.


Utterly tedious. I don't care about a single character. I was transfixed by True Detective but had to force myself to finish watching the pilot, then googled to see if I was the only one who found it forgettable.


Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston's spawn will be great at SUCKING. Just like The Leftovers.


I wached the first one high and could not wait for it to end.
Music cues suck too….everything sucks,specially the characters….


The worst show HBO has aired. I watched 3 episodes, each one more disappointing than the previous. Terrible storyline, and awful character development. I don't care what happens to any of them, probably why they were left behind to begin with.


I gave up on this show two weeks in.


Probably one of the worst HBO shows I've seen. Story is going nowhere. Liv Tyler is horrible.


Wow, this show is really bad. The people in white really ruin it.


I loved Carnivale. And there were only TWO seasons, not several.


I was really looking forward to this show. Bottom line: it's too depressing/boring. Nothing really ever happens. I don't care about the characters so the bizarre things that happen are…meh.

Don Herman

Bottom Line for me: I don't care why they disappeared. I wish more had disappeared. In fact, I wish ALL of them had disappeared.


the wire was one of the best shows on TV when it aired… trying hard to get into the leftovers….if it wasnt for the hot single nurse i work with watching it i would have bailed after the 1st episode


If there is ANY hope for this show they need to say where the people went or show someone actively trying to find out. Following around a cast of characters with no character will be the end of this show after this Season. Nothing over anyone's head here, the show is just horrible on its own merit.

Town crier

Dreary tale of yuppie idiots so self absorbed they can't work together or sacrifice their own self pitying regard to care about something higher. A cadre of sneering teens doesn't help, slouching around in designer teen-wear. Oh yeah, a plot would help. Thank the Lord they passed on Neil Gaiman because that hack would have sunk the network. The moral of the story is, beware of pretentious books without plots.

All Over Now

Damon Lindelof is soon becoming the next M. Night Shymalan.


I'm watching tonight's episode of The Leftovers and I think this will be my last.
The storyline of this show has lost me. I can't seem to understand why they are paying such close attention to the daughter and her high schools friends. I definitely cannot stand the dreams Justin Theroux is having about his teenage daughters friend. Yet another show where high schools girls are having relationships with adult me (Californications). I don't want to watch anything displaying this type of relationship. It's just uncomfortable and doesn't make for good television……


I am a well educated, professional in supervision. Im highly intelligent and not easily confused. The Leftovers is hard to get into and await with baited breath for the next episode. Lost was fantastic. True Blood I hate seeing it end. Leftovers maybe try it again 20 years.


Never smoked a cigarette in my life. This show is so bad I actually wish I smoked! and my husband has lesions on his lungs from cancer that has spread to his lungs. And after watching the first 3 episodes I wish I could have my time back, with a pack of cigs in my hands. I now understand why the protesters smoke. Even they can't understand the show. they protest cause they're board

I normally don't comment on message boards

Oh god. You people are why Carnivale and Deadwood got slaughtered. Just keep watching and be adult enough to deal with "bleak, heavy stuff." The show has a lot of promise if ya don't like it fine go back to watching Duck Dynasty and let the rest of us enjoy it.

Random Comment

I just silently hope it won't be some religious bullshit. Why would anyone join the GR sect after being stalked? TV show forgot that there're now laws against it.

Tom Riddle

I laugh at you all. HBO knows what they're doing, and they're well aware of their past mistakes. Do you even know how hard it is now for HBO to even consider your show? Of course you don't….because you all know everything right? Piss off you bloody idiots.


I love the Leftovers! It is really entertaining!


i just hope it's aliens or something that makes sense, not this superstitious religious magic bullshit that lindeloff pulled on lost. oh wait it was "about the characters" all along.


I'm not sure that I like any of the characters.
Also I there are too many small things that I notice that bother me.
Most recent episode a person throws a rock from a moving car and nailed a guy in the head thrown with his right hand, then they reverse and he nails another guy in the dome with a lefty throw. Sureeee
Another is when Meg slaps one of those people and she touches her face like she was hurt but on the wrong side.
I could give more but u get the point. I pay extra for HBO so I expect them to have people more observant then me to catch this stuff before it goes one the air


I'm truly enjoying this series. It's subject matter is exactly up my alley since I am a student of religion and human nature. Yes, it's dark.. But that's exactly why I love it.


PS–gave it three episodes as proof of concept. But unfortunately…with each epi….got less engaging and more estranged.


really bad show…I enjoy the leftovers from my fridge much more.


Pure rubbish. Was actually shocked this was on HBO. It reminded me of a show from a few years back called Flash Forward. Hopefully this show has the same fate.


Man, I love reading comments about The Leftovers so far. It is like watching a group of primitive cavemen discovering fire for the first time, and being so confused by it that they continuously stick their fingers in the flame. Basically, every statement that is being made "It is boring" and "I don't get it" and "It is weird and confusing" tells me that this show is great and is for people that like to think about what they watch. That is all you need to know when looking for great TV, Do the generic craving masses "get it"? If they don't, You probably have something worth watching.

ann davis

Agree with this review. Especially very annoying casting of Justin Theroux. Mr. Aniston.
Yuck what a bad show. And I love HBO shows.

Long Don Sliver

More non researched crap giving uninformed opinions on other peoples work. Great. Carnivale ran 2 seasons, not several. As a matter of fact, Carnivale (an amazing show and one of HBO's best) premiered to the same garbage response as The Leftovers seems to be doing. "Oh god, what is going on? Why are they not explaining everything to me? Why can my mind not comprehend anything? Why? Why? Why?" Seriously, I love how people are so quick to condemn a series because they don't "understand" it in the first episode. They complain non stop about all of the shitty reality shows and other trash on tv, Then when a show comes along that actually has any form of originality and is unconventional, They throw a fit because "it sucks" simply because they can't grasp it immediately. I have no trouble following this show. Episode 3 is one of the best episodes of TV in a long time. Period. Now that The Leftovers is getting it's footing and gaining momentum, I can't wait until critics are eating it up (as they already are, if you look around after tonight) and all of these simple minded fools start to look like what they are.


While I semi agree with the reactions to this series, I think the series is doomed due to the fact that lindelof is one of the worst creatives / writers / anything that HBO has ever let in the door. This is not even close to comparable to The Wire (which is probably the best show HBO has ever produced) or Carnivale (which only went 2 seasons btw). And Carnivale debuted with awesome numbers, it just took too long to develop and lost it's audience after season 1. This was also still an amazing show, you just had to invest the time to get through season 1. I'm assuming the author just did a bit of Googling for these tidbits after wasting an hour on another show that resembles the feeling of being completely 'lost'…….


Thank you for writing a review that mirrors my reaction to this show. I watched the pilot and was confused at why HBO is involved. Weak premise since more than 2% has left humanity's ranks before. Annoying and unlikeable characters who react in hard-to-believe ways to the disappearance. And too slow moving. I'll give this one a pass.

Bull Winkle

The minute I saw the requisite hot guy/gal, I knew there would eventually be some romance between the two of them. What I loved about Breaking Bad is that it didn't need eye candy. Everyone looked like everyday people. Leftovers just didn't draw me in or engage me. Not really fair after only 2 episodes, but good shows don't take that long.


These types of shows were tired a decade ago, I am actually very disappointed with HBO's new shows the last two season … maybe I was spoiled with Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Band of Brothers, The Wire, Rome, Entourage, Deadwood, OZ, Big Love, Boardwalk Empire and True Blood … do you sense a theme here (well minus sucki sookie). NOT Girls, The Leftovers, Hung, Veep, How to Make it America, East Bound and Silicon Valley (which is interesting for about 5 minutes then the whining chases me off) – leave that crap to the networks they churn it out like butter. HBO is the Ferrari in the driveway with the hot single person in it that just honked the horn … not the Ford Galaxy with the PTA member who wants to cheat on their soul mate to get back at them ….


I didn't know it was the same guy that did lost until I read this. It has a VERY lost feel. I don't care for these shows. I guessed they were all dead by the end of season one. Each episode dragged on and I kept praying for better stuff. I felt compelled to watch lost hoping I wasn't right. This show has serious issues. No excitement, it's super slow and drawn out. I don't want another lost. We don't need a guru or a cult. Stupid they don't talk. Who wants to read their dialog all the time. Super disappointed.


I wanted to like it but the story lines are just not interesting, and the characters and dialog are boring. Something about the way it's filmed or the way the camera keep shaking gives it a cheap quality. The acting is weird and bad and nothing makes sense, and there is no reason to care what happens next. I skimmed through episode 2, it was hard to watch. I bet this one gets cancelled quick.

Lee West

I was so looking forward to something that would finally compare to "Lost."
This isn't it.
Boring dialogue, uninteresting characters, and weird storyline that I don't care about. Someone wake me if it picks up. :0 <yawn

Julia Haber

What an awful, awful show. Gave it 2 episodes but enough is enough!


Can I get a dsicount on HBO citing this shit? This is quite possibly the most uninteresting show I have ever seen and I am currently watching the last season of True Blood. I am starting to feel like HBO is just a really expensive CW.


Boring, I agree with ML it seemed like four hours instead of two. I don't care about any of the characters, they are all creepy. The show is a flop, because it is stupid.

Mike Lampson

so much potential here. I have seen the first 2 episodes now and they felt like four hours instead of two. I feel like it is that same with Halt and Catch Fire, both of these plots sounded very interesting to me, but I do not care or even like the characters. And yes who are the people in white and why do we care? Who thought of not talking and smoking all day as a protest. Very odd. I thought this show would be much more about the rapture and that actual event and all the mystery and interesting ideas with that, and Halt and Catch fire about an exciting time in computer development and neither went that way, and have dull characters to boot. The Leftovers has some really good actors on board here, so I was really expecting more.


Problem is, I don't care. The characters should be compelling but they are dull. The story should be fascinating but the way it is told, it's kind of flat. I've watched two episodes now and I'm Surprised that with such a great concept, it should be so boring. Compare to walking dead, characters are accessible and compelling. And the story is so well told. feel that I've wasted my time with leftover. Basic 101, make us care so that we will keep watching.

Craig Michaels

Have no clue what the mute people in white are all about – totally ludicrous not to explain their point… They seem like pointless filler, nothing more…


Glad I looked ahead to see the book summary and if there was a point to this show. Also glad to see I'm not alone thinking this show is a joke. Very poorly executed…of course, it didn't have much to start with. Surprised HBO picked it up. Just cuz they put something in the Sunday night slot, doesn't mean we have to watch.
Thanks to the reviews that assure me I'm not missing anything by giving up on this quickly instead of wasting time watching.
Hopefully it will disappear as quickly as all the people who went missing :)

brian biedul

I guess that 98% of the population reacts to every situation in a weird and unnatural way. Like Lost this is going to be a super long twilight zone episode without the crisp writing.

Todd Out West

I thought the premier was original and compelling.

And episode 2 tonight was great.

Maybe you're the one's that suck.


Carnivale did not "limp along" for several seasons. It was canceled after the second. Btw, I can't wait to watch the second episode of the Leftovers.


I watch the pilot of leftovers today and I loved it I never moved I was like hypnotized it was so good so well-written such a great test I hope they don't take it off all the good stuff comes off and the trash is still going I don't need to watch people having sex I don't need to watch people curse I need good stuff and leftovers is good stuff. Can't wait till the next episode Thanx


Well fu** you guys I liked it

Allen West

Too bad the producers weren't part of the 2%. Unlike most quality HBO this felt made for TV recycled non-sense – as we have no vested interest in the 2% who cares and whats worse is how the world has somehow fallen apart by 2%? Nonsense! The Spanish Flu of 1918 and the World Wars and plagues didn't stop life so this nonsense is garbage and now an HBO filler subscribers are stuck with obvious flashbacks – boring! Just asinine that 2% and no sign of a real rapture leads to the nonsense we were presented. People pass daily and the World continues on!

John Skinner

Recently a plane disappeared with no explanation and likely never will.


It was ponderous, dull, unbelievable, insipid, vapid, facile and dumb.

Anne Thompson

BTW, I was a devoted "Lost" fan who did not feel betrayed by the ending.


If this show would unexpectedly disappear,like the storyline, from HBO , would some one notice.


I don't think I've read such emotionally intense comments after just a single show like I've read here. Is that because people are so pissed off about LOST? I can understand not liking the characters, but c'mon, it's one episode!! I'm not saying you should tune in if you don't like it, there is plenty to watch out there. What I am saying is: "geez, there sure is a lot of time and energy spent here in the comments section of just this one article that spews a lot of negativity and only after 1 episode!"

I liked it enough to keep watching. 2% of the population disappearing is new, and if it happened for real, it would have a greater impact than Pearl Harbor, WW2, 9-11…when you are left with no answers, it's maddening. We have all lost loved ones, but how many of us have lost loved ones and have no idea what happened to them? I'd like to hear from those people. Imagine that, someone you love goes missing and you have no clues as to why or where they are. That's devastating because you can't hitch your emotions to anything and the healing process can get stalled.

I am intrigued to see where this show goes, even if the pilot was not the best thing I've ever seen. I like the premise and the possible story arcs that can stem from it, in terms of relating it to the world we all currently inhabit.

About the high school party, since it seems such a hot topic: I am a 39yo male. When I was in high school, I went to parties where all of that stuff was happening, just not as overtly and out in the open (except for the 2 dudes in the bathroom?). Kids did coke, smoked pot (out in the open), played flirting games and went in to closets and bedrooms to hook up…and yes, some of my friends would burn themselves with cigarettes sometimes. The difference with this party was that everything was more out in the open (or doors weren't locked or closed all of the way) and about 20% more intense/less innocent than what I actually experienced. In my day, a lot if that stuff was about experimenting, but in this scene it all seemed like just another night and, especially from Jill's perspective, like it was a run-of-the-mill hang session w friends. If 2% of the worlds population disappeared when I was a freshman in HS, and everyone else on the planet was seriously buggin out, I could totally see that kind of party happening and I could understand it being "normal." Teenage years are so awkward anyways, the 2% effect would just throw that stuff into hyper-drive.


Giant YAWN!

Terry Curtis Fox

Perrotta's work is aggressively suburban. I can't recall a single successful HBO contemporary show that isn't urban. In fact, the only successful premium suburban show that I can recall is "Weeds."

Certainly, the trailer made it look like this was set in Anytown, USA — like dozens of network shows before it. It looked like TV, not HBO.


HBO did cancel John from Cincinatti and Lucky Louie (stupid decision).
The trailer was horrible. It made the show look too serious and too depressing. Both are fine qualities but after watching the 1st episode it seems that it doesn't have much more to offer.
I'm convinced almost anything associated with Damon Lindeloff will have a good premise and then little thought into where to go from there, see Lost & Prometheus.


i had to turn this show off about 15 min in, i will never allow this show on my tv. How may people go missing every year? Give me a break..


.0088 or just under 1% of the population dies every year.


Everything about this show is bad. This is boring, white, upper-middle-class, Judeo-Christian melodrama at its worst. It feels like a bad 90s movie. Everything is overwrought, especially that score that's just a clone of the "Everyday" song (from the viral video of that guy who took a picture of himself every day for 6 years). The nonsense character motivation and bland acting is alienating. Don't even start me on that terrible "teen party" scene that feels like what a 72-year-old man thinks a high school party in 2014 is like (I'm pretty sure, in the background, you can actually hear extras yell "party!" "bring it!" and "bring it on!"). This show is a boring piece of doodoo. It's not just that it's sad, it's that it's a soap-opera-bad version of what "sad" should look and feel like.

Mike Timm

Fire your proofreader – It's spelled Yerxa – not Xerxa.

Bob G

I must be in the minority, but I found that the pilot was so interesting and involving with setting up characters and the realistic and possible ways people would react to a mass disappearance of 2% of the world's population, that it passed this simple test with me. I didn't want to multi-task in my room while it aired. I sat and watched a very good pilot. I'm curious to see what else it'll show me. Mission accomplished.


The series will either fail epically or succeed depending on whether the creators change its direction.
The obvious theme intended is about dealing with loss, how it can affect us.
Well, considering the first ep, people unsurprisingly often don't cope well.
Americans don't like downbeat stories, from the maker of lost it is expected to deal with the mystery, the inexplicable, aliens, supernatural events etc. (yawn yawn) and that seems to be exactly what Lindelof didn't want this show to be about, so good luck to him and HBO.
It will probably gain a small cult following, unless of course he caves in and give Joe Sixpack what he wants.


It doesn't work. You can't have a show where a lot of people disappear for no reason. If there are no clues, there's no story. Period.


My reaction to the ad spots and what I could gather from a brief look into what this book is about and what the point of the series is just left me with my initial reaction; who cares?

A mass vanishing of people happens and we are left with those 'leftover' which turns out to be like 90% of the population, big deal. It is such a small percentage of the population that is gone, there is nothing anyone can do about this 'loss' as in figuring out what/why/how etc. So the most important thing about this series is pointless by itself and that is unfortunately how it is 'sold' in the promos.

The people we see cry and moan over 'what happened' and wallow in enabling behavior to keep swimming in the chum of 'what happened' for 3 years before we stop in to see how they are doing. Guess what, they're still bitching and moaning about the same crap.

First let's put this into context people die everyday, people vanish and are killed/runaway/run off everyday. The stories of the people left behind dealing with their loss can be powerful but to hitch everyone's story to a single event and push the 'mystery' as something to intrigue the audience when everything says the answers will never be given(from the author and the lost co-something name media likes to tout) makes no sense to me. It is 3 years later and no one has any answers so to paraphrase the white clad cult members "stop wasting your breath" you're never going to find out what happened to those people, you're never going to find out where they went, MOVE ON, I say to the heavy handed plot pushing of the 'event' instead focus on the people and their stories of dealing with loved ones who are gone then maybe you have something. Fewer people who whine and moan about what/why/how and more about them dealing with people that are gone and moving on with that or trying to NOT wallowing in that stupid 'mystery'.

In addition to this there is the simple fact that unless you are brain deficient you've probably thought about what happens to us when we die. You may have given into a religious structure to answer those questions and take them on your faith, you may not have answers that satisfy you but have some thoughts of your own or taken an atheist approach of this is it, etc. So the problem here is that anyone of mild reasoning and awareness of life, we are mortal and someday will die, don't need to struggle with the how/why/where as the most interesting thing about his show. It makes little sense why so many are so obsessed in this 'world' at least to me.

Why have so many of the leftovers changed the world in response to these missing people? They are gone you are not, deal with it, instead they are dwelling on it, forming holidays and changing society to further focus on this event to which there are no answers and will never be. I guess you could argue that because of the event there is reactionary change and I could accept more readily from just the cults and your random crazy/annoying obsessed person but I think the government bending over backwards is a bit too much. It seems like 90% of the leftovers have drunk the koolaid to forever make their life and everyone else's lives all about being leftover and the event.

There's the woman in an ad for the show that screams "do you know what happened, do you know what happened to my family?" No!, no one does, get over it, deal, there are people in our real world that lost loved ones in plane, car, train crashes, terrorist attacks, just went missing, etc. Now maybe they get to deal with it, in their own time, because they don't have society bending over backwards to enable their self wallowing in their pain or the 'mystery'.

Oh and the event could've been aliens or a shift among parallel universes, the people who vanished never existed except as a collective figment of a shared delusion ie the matrix or any number of other reasons why they left but in the end who cares?

For me this show comes back to I just don't care about this stupid mystery, even if I didn't know they won't answer it. The rapture isn't interesting in itself, either you go or you don't if you don't and it is life as usual, unless the world has become a hell as in "This is the End". If the leftovers was about a pa world after a 'rapture' event light on the religion I'd probably be all over it. Sadly the leftovers isn't that compelling so far it seems to be lots of pushes about this stupid event that isn't interesting, whiny 'leftovers' who circle jerk each other into feeling like crap and heavy handed parallels to 9/11 with our over reaction to it as the leftovers do in their own world to a much bigger event.

I like dark stuff but it has to be interesting and not annoying the leftovers fails on both of these.


I thought it was great! The fact that you don't know how each person is going to react or hit a breaking point. I can't wait see the next episode.


Can't air a series without advertisers. The viewers and advertisers have both disappeared. I don't care what happens to the Leftovers.


I just watched it. It was horrible! It made no sense. The world actually suffered throw this type of event before… it was called WW2! However, in this case 2.5% of the world population disappeared/died. People carried on and lived their lives after the grief. The same thing would happen today. The main family has no reason to suffer! Who did they lose? A neighbor down the street probably and this made the wife join a cult which then caused a son to join a cult and scream about his torment and yeah…. complete bs. If they wanted to make this show more interesting… they would have taken like 60% of the world population. It would have more of a survival twist to it as well then… not just a bunch of people moping cause their neighbor went missing.

My high school class was 400. 2% of 400 is 8. If eight people went missing unexplained, would we care. We would hold a vigil and maybe do a memorial… but we would be good and still have fun.

Mitur Binesderti

I watched the pilot and I can tell you what went wrong: a lazy writer that thinks they can get away with unexplained mystery instead of a good story.

What would you think of a comic that only told you the setups and never told you the punchline? Would you think they're clever and cutting edge? Or would you think they are not only lazy but disrespectful to their audience? Would you think they're clever or would you think they're not particularly good? What if that comedian told you it was all about the setup and not the punchline? You're think they were an idiot.


What went wrong with journalism…oh wait, unprofessional conceited journalists that don't even bother watching more than a pilot before writing their dumb reviews.


I hate the Dad, I hate his annoying kids, I hate the Mayor, I hate the white clothes people, I hate the pickup truck guy, I hate the self-help guru. I marginally liked the twins, but I didn't really care or feel for them. I really only felt for the dogs, but by then end of the pilot I hated the dogs too.

The pilot started off the bat bad by featuring the first 3-5 minutes of non-stop baby-screaming (I hate that baby) followed by way too much mom-screaming (I hate that mom). Teenagers jumping off buildings for no real reason and behaving badly (I hate those teenagers). There really isn't anything to like about this show.

I hate this show.


Two reasons.
1. Damon
2. Lindelof


Might I suggest prematurely presenting this "thinkpiece" with the award for most premature article of 2014?


I watched the first episode with so many expectations, because it's HBO, you know…

Then I became bored, the story is not a new stuff, and noticed some technical errors in some scenes.
Had anyone noticed the scene the daughter was with the boy in the bed, in one screen the girl had a lock of hair in the face, in the next screen she hasn't? Poor editing -.-'


How could a review fail to note how utterly boring that first hour was? If I wanted to watch people beat up the Polyphonic Spree… I'd want it to be in a comedy. Can someone just give them the Kool Aid and be done with it?


Terrible "review" and very clear you just watched the promos and not the actual episode. The wife of Theroux's character did not leave in the Rapture (as you inferred), she joined the Guilty Remnant. Maybe you were trying to avoid a spoiler, but it's pretty lazy to not make that distinction.

Also you said you were "confounded" by the behavior of the characters. That's the point of the goddamn show. These characters witnessed 140 million people vanish into thin air. We're not supposed to know how they'll react. These people are still "coping" with the trauma of the event and the fate of the world, as brilliantly evidenced by the nihilistic parties that high-schoolers attend.

1.8 million is not a bad number for a summer HBO show. It's not a smash-hit, but considering it didn't have the star power of McConaughey and Harrelson (True Detective), the army of Sorkin (Newsroom) or the built-in audience (Game of Thrones), this opening seems very promising.

Pretty lazy writing and it was clear you tested the temperature on twitter and then checked the overnight ratings.

Keil S.

True Blood sucks.


I wonder if there is also the political landscape to consider. Anything to do with "rapture" seems like something Republican "holly rollers" would gravitate to and conversely people on the other side fed-up with the perceived ubiquity and pervasiveness of their influence might not be so enamored of the subject material as a consequence.


I actually found it intriguing. Yes, the end was especially bleak, but it certainly left me wondering where the show will go from here.

When it cut to the kids burying the dog, it was surprising, but it need not be confounding– I think they did a good job of setting up that this is a girl who makes decisions outside the boxes of normality. The dog was in her dad's car– I could very easily picture her telling the twins that she needed to bury the dog, and them wanting to help her out. She knew her dad well enough to know that he would not have shot the dog. However, by the end of the episode, we see that just about everyone finds themselves doing things they perhaps never pictured themselves doing.


Not only was the pilot depressing, but I left at the end not caring about any of the characters. At times it felt more like random thoughts strung together than a cohesive story. I'll give it one more episode, but if #2 is like the first, I'm done. I don't need sunshine and happy people, but I don't need more of the same dourness either.


I agree with your review of the episode, but I'm still intrigued by the premise and will give it at least another episode or two before I give up. I think HBO has earned that.

And the show they canceled was "Luck," not "Lucky," and it wasn't canceled because of ratings. It was canceled because several horses died during filming for the first (and only) season.


I have to agree with you: very uninteresting TV. And with so many choices, I doubt that I'll be back for more. Oh, and of course, I went into this NOT wanting to be sucker-punched again by the creator or "Lost."

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Was a great show. Season three is horrible

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