The Leftovers

Sundays are the perfect time to do those things that you’ve been meaning to do. A productive person uses this free time to do chores, such as laundry or gardening. I, on the other hand, decided that last Sunday was a good time to binge-watch HBO’s The Leftovers. The general premise of the series is that two percent of the world’s population disappeared three years ago. So when we’re introduced to all the characters, they’re still coping with the disappearances of their loved ones and trying to figure out what happens next. As I powered through the first nine episodes, I had one overwhelming thought: who the heck would join the mysterious new cult in town (the Guilty Remnant)? I realize people are reeling from their losses, but the lure of this particular group is completely lost on me.

Members of the Guilty Remnant take a vow of silence, chain smoke cigarettes as if they’ve got stock in a tobacco company, dress in all white, and spend most of their time loitering in front of people’s houses…doesn’t exactly sound like a party. I think of cults as similar to crazy exes. They don’t seem crazy when you meet them; otherwise, you’d never have started dating them in the first place. Instead, the combination of their physical attractiveness and charismatic personality is intoxicating. Yet there’s nothing intoxicating about a bunch of disheveled, speechless, white figures haunting your driveway as though you’re Ebenezer Scrooge, and they’re the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and yet to come.

The other point on which I’m not clear is what people hope to gain by joining. The name Guilty Remnant suggests these people have decided to lead really boring, depressing lives because they feel guilty for being left behind, but that’s a waste of a good guilt trip. Guilt should make you a nicer, more selfless person—I assume that’s why people participate in beach cleanups. Instead these people are perverting this very useful emotion to become a thorn in everyone’s side. The group also seems really intent on making sure people don’t forget about all the people who disappeared. Newsflash: if 140 million people just up and disappear, and no one has any idea where they went or why, no one will ever forget. If there’s one thing human beings are good at, it’s memorializing. The Taj Mahal, one of the seven man-made wonders of the world, was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. The freakin’ Taj Mahal was built for one person, so imagine the memorials that would be erected for 140 million people.

The season finale of The Leftovers airs this Sunday. I’m pretty sure we’ll never know what happened to all the people who disappeared, because what’s the fun in actually having an answer? However, I do hope for some kind of satisfying answer as to why a bunch of presumably intelligent adults have decided membership in the Guilty Remnant is the best use of their time.

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