Originally I was going to make this review filled with spoilers; but since few of you appear to have even heard of the show, let alone are talking about it, I will take a different approach. This spoiler free review will centered towards getting just one person to want to see the show. Ever since finishing the season I have been getting that urge to go up to a random person, to shake them wildly and tell them to watch The Leftovers. Ok, I'm not that insane yet, but you get the point. This show isn't for everyone, though. That is to say, if you don't like really well constructed, great dramas you won't like this show. The gist of the series is that two percent of the whole world's population has disappeared. The show is set three years after the fact in the small town of Mapleton, New York. Cults and “holy people” are beginning to pop up out of the woodwork and we don't know exactly why. Drama and mysteries ensue.
So why is The Leftovers so good? Let's start with the most compelling part of the show. The Leftovers is one of those type of TV shows that is one of the most progressively spiritual things I have ever seen. Most TV shows and cinema sweep spiritual thoughts of existentialism under the rug. And if they don't sweep it under the rug, they present these ideas in the most wishy washy ways that don't pay attention to any relevant set religion or thoughts on new ones. For HBO to present such a TV show should be, if not praised, at least be paid attention to. What they did was quite ballsy and in a way honorable.
What holds the show together, though, is the acting. To start with, Kevin Garvey played by Justin Theroux, the lead of the show, is absolutely great. At first he might seem like a generic cop and protagonist that follows the events are happening. As the series progress though, one begins to see the subtle nuance in his character. His repressed emotions slowly and surely begin to show throughout the show in such a way that is incredibly impressive from an acting standpoint.
He's not the only one. The Leftovers is filled to the brim with incredible characters. Whether it is Christopher Eccleston playing the energetic priest of the town, to Ann Dowd playing malevolent cult leader, to Carrie Coon playing a mom broken from tragedy, every actor fills his or her part brilliantly. Everyone of them is so capable of delivering intense, gut ringing emotion that hits your emotional chords over and over again.
Let's not forget the story as well. The premise of the show and its tone of grief, all the more elevated by the shows masterful music, progressively grows in tension in the best way possible to the end. The Leftover finale is, dare I say, one of the best finales I have ever seen on television. I not sure if I can remember the last time I cried twice during a TV episode (Tears of joy?! Sadness?! I guess you'll have to find out!). The opening sequence with Nina Simone singing “Ne me quitte pas” set the stage for this triumphant hour of television. Everything escalated in the most beautiful, heartbreaking way and I can only look forward till next season.
The Leftovers is not without flaws though. I'm willing to admit that the pacing, especially in the beginning episodes, is much too slow for its own good. This along with the general feeling that many of the mysteries in the show may never be solved, combine to make for some moments that are difficult to watch. This out of the way, it is sufficient to say, this is truly a great show. It may not be perfection, but when it is brilliant, it is perhaps more brilliant than anything else on television. The acting is downright great, the story is special, and its spiritual thoughts or lack thereof in the face of loss are phenomenally touching.
Personal Preference: 5/5
How Well It Was Made: 4/5