For a kid who grew up on a steady diet of television, I have to admit being out of practice. A combination of Gilligan’s Island and Dark Shadows informed much of my young outlook. Starting all the way back to our days in Edinburgh, my wife and I had stopped watching TV. We were in our twenties then, and it was a matter of not being able to afford the luxury. Back in the States, cathode-ray tubes were ubiquitous, but cable was expensive and my employers not generous. We had a television but only watched very occasionally, and then only what fuzzy programs we could pick up on the aerial. So it continued. We’re now at the point of not having had television service for over half of our lives, and we understand from the younger generation that a good internet provider makes cable superfluous anyway.
This prologue is simply a way to introduce the fact that we have finally, after two or three years of watching (we still have little time for it), finished Lost. Now, I don’t get out much, but I had heard people talking about it when it originally broadcast. More importantly, I’d read about it in books published by university presses. I knew going into it—spoiler alert for those even more behind the times than me!—that the castaways were in Purgatory. That seems to have been the point all along, but when money keeps rolling in because the story is compelling, you don’t want to reveal your hand too quickly. Last night we watched the final episode where what was suggested back at the beginning was made clear: the passengers of Oceanic flight 815 had died in the crash and were making up for past sins.
The role of Jack’s father (Christian Shephard) as leading the passengers to the light may have been a bit heavy-handed, but the church where they finally meet has the symbols of many world religions, conveying the message that there is more than a single path. The truly surprising aspect of all this is how popular the series was. There were religious overtones from the beginning, but since the series wasn’t preachy, viewers apparently didn’t mind. Yes, as the star character’s surname indicates, people don’t mind being led. In fact, the names of many of the characters are indicative of some of the paths up that mountain. I have to wonder if those who vociferate loudly and longly about their religion being the only way might not learn a lesson from television. Even if the suggestion only comes from someone who grew up watching Gilligan’s Island.