More than any other series, ‘Lost” has redefined the meaning of cult TV. It drew in 15 to 16 million viewers during its first three seasons, with a drop off in the last two. However, mere ratings can’t encompass the frantic fandom of its remaining ten million followers. Even more obvious than the ratings, though, is the spawn of ‘Lost” a universe of mythology, theories, fandom and more exists primarily on the Web.
For a show this big (it’s one of the most expensive TV shows in history), the creators have looked for ways to generate buzz and keep intrigue high, outside of the 43-minute mind-bends the viewer endures week after week.
They certainly fed fans well.
Creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof debuted a fake and questionably irrelevant Ajira Airways Web site (www.ajiraairways.com) before season five and aired two confusing yet captivating promos during Comic-Con this past year any ‘Lost” fan was of course thrown by Hurley’s Mr. Cluck commercial and Oceanic Airlines claim to a ‘perfect safety record.”
The way ‘Lost” has made use of multimedia is hardly unusual shows like ‘Gossip Girl” and ‘Heroes” had already embraced some pitiable form of promotion and product placement in online Webisodes yet ‘Lost” makes it work. In 2008 the show aired 13 missing pieces from the series, which filled some interesting, however minor, narrative holes.
The trite joke of the series is that ‘Lost” fans are completely lost in the show’s greater storyline. We have time travelers, murderous clouds of smoke, temples and a giant foot that can easily render it downright ridiculous. Much of the show hinges on viewers simply buying into the fictional universe and trusting that the writers have some idea where this is all going.
The Easter egg clues planted throughout the five seasons are the creators’ way of saying, ‘I told you so,” by hiding some mini-spoilers in earlier episodes: Way back in season one we first saw the black versus white motif in two unusual stones in the pockets of two corpses (who were nicknamed Adam and Eve by fans) a plot point that will likely be reintroduced this season. Played backward, the mysterious whispers in the jungle are saying sweet nothings about all the characters, and the numbers never cease to leave us. The list goes on forever for more, see lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Easter_egg.
The show has hooked us so well that fans have gone to unnatural lengths to uncover even more absurd clues. Loyal viewers have translated the hieroglyphics drawn inside caves and on statues. Others discovered that the strange four-toed statue is in fact the Egyptian goddess of fertility. Tricky.
‘Lost” has done what few shows can: spark an online frenzy in its now five-year runtime. It’s a show complicated enough to have its own wiki, Lostpedia, which is filled with content and helpful guides. Bloggers’ critiques are never lacking either. The myriad sites serve practically the same purpose to guess the big secret answering all our questions. Will any actually help us get there? Probably not. But in the meantime, it’s fun trying.
Leber is a member of the class of 2011.