I’m someone who likes to think about and write about and talk about pop culture. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me or if you’ve been reading… well, anything I’ve ever written, most likely, then you’ve probably recognized that fact. Yet the sad truth is that I don’t get to soak in most pop culture phenomena at the time they’re going on. I watch most movies and TV shows I get to see once they come out on DVD or start streaming from Netflix; I read most comic books I get to read when they come out in trade paperback. Thanks to the fact that I can legally purchase and download MP3s, I’m at least a little more able to keep current with the music I listen to, but honestly, I’m so far out-of-touch with what’s actually popular in music it might as well not matter.
I read discussion and analysis of pop culture content far, far more frequently than I get to discuss and analyze it for myself.
I bring this up now because as I write this, ABC is broadcasting the series finale of Lost. And I’m not watching it, as I’m now five full seasons behind, and I’m not the kind of person who enjoys jumping to the last page of the book.
A great many of my friends and co-workers are watching the finale right now. Many are Tweeting about what’s going on (though thankfully in a spoiler-free manner). Most will be talking about it tomorrow at work while I keep my headphones on with the music cranked in my ears so I don’t hear anything they’re saying.
I’m on the outside of this pop culture tsunami which I really should be smack in the middle of. I love episodic drama, I love shows with huge numbers of characters, I love time travel stories, I love mysteries, I love any story which can be watched/read/enjoyed multiple times to pick up on extra details which only make sense in retrospect. I should be part of the Lost fandom, should be watching and cheering and cursing along with millions of others right now.
Terry and I watched the first season of Lost shortly after it initially came out on DVD, and we enjoyed it quite a lot. We were excited for Season Two to come out on DVD, and then… I don’t quite know what happened, honestly. I know we watched the first episode of the second season, and then… things just got in the way. And then we started hearing some not-so-good-sounding stuff about Seasons Two and Three, so we didn’t make it a huge priority to catch up.
But then ABC let the Lost guys choose their own end date rather than letting the show just go on from season to season without knowing when they’d be able to wrap it up — knowing you’ve got a target to shoot for makes it much, much easier to hit it. And then we heard that Season Four actually got really good and interesting again, and then the addiction and fanaticism which have become the hallmarks of Lost fans really kicked into high gear.
Now, however, we’re way behind. There are characters, locations, entire concepts which weren’t part of the mythology when we watched the first season. I’m so out of it that you could almost spoil the ending for me without actually spoiling it, because whatever you told me wouldn’t make a damn bit of sense to me. (NOTE: Please please please do not take that last sentence as an invitation to try.)
I want to watch. I want to experience this show that, by most accounts, is as maddening as it is enthralling. I want to be able to talk about it with my friends, to throw theories back and forth and debate tiny details. But realistically, given how often I get to watch shows… even if I started tonight I wouldn’t be done until some time next year.
After tonight, the last chapter will have been written and the discussion shifts into a different key, from what-will-it-be to what-it-was. Not that there’s not value in that conversation, of course, but it’s not the same; the buildup of upcoming events is usually of a much tastier flavor than the tearing down of what’s been done.
Enjoy the end, Losties. I’ll catch up with you when I can.