The Leftovers premiered a couple of weeks ago on HBO. Based on the Rapture-esque Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, the show follows the lives of a group of small town residents still reeling from an event three years earlier in which 2% of the world’s population mysteriously disappeared. More a treatise on grief than a supernatural mystery, both the show and the book promise a lot of dark introspection without much payoff. Which is fine, depending on how that grief plays out.
The performances are good, although I would argue that while Justin Theroux’s talent at looking angry and sweaty and shirtless is unparalleled, he’s a bit of a dull lead. And, as with all TV shows, there hasn’t been enough Christopher Eccleston yet.
Whether or not people want to spend week after week (particularly in the dead heat of Summer) meditating on grief and loss is debatable, but the show does appear to be off to a good start, lead character and his potential psychosis aside.
And while professional and amateur reviews of the show have been fairly good, there’s one thing that seems to be troubling reviewers and audience members alike: Will this be the next Breaking Bad?
Was Fargo the next Breaking Bad? Was True Detective?
Is Game of Thrones the natural successor to Breaking Bad?
Will we ever get another Breaking Bad?
In a word, no. Truly amazing, transcendent TV is extremely rare. TV is absolutely getting better, to the point where film is starting to look outdated and clunky in comparison, but it’s unfair to constantly set this expectation of brilliance for every new cable premiere.
Moreover, it’s also an expectation that cheapens the thing you consider so great by expecting a natural successor to pop up mere weeks or months after the series finale.
I don’t know yet if The Leftovers will be an amazing show, just like nobody knew what Breaking Bad would become at the two episode mark. I do know that Fargo’s brilliance was blown wildly out of proportion, but I suppose that that’s another post for another day.
In any event, can we just let a show grow and develop without heaping on it some enormous pressure to be the next greatest thing you’ve ever seen?
But seriously — more Eccleston.