Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers shouldn’t make a good television show. An author who spends most of his time exploring the darkest parts of suburbia, Perrotta writes books that seem to lend themselves better to film adaptations such as Election or Little Children. The first time I read The Leftovers, I thought it would make a fantastic movie. The second time I read it, earlier this week in preparation for Sunday’s premiere, I wondered how the hell this mysterious narrative was going to work as a weekly drama. Based on its first few episodes, The Leftovers is bleak and depressing. It’s a haunting and heartsick show, and one that’s full of frustration and longing. Its debut episodes are also the most promising I’ve seen this year, and I won’t be surprised if it becomes one of the best series of 2014.
The Leftovers, co-created by Perrotta and Damon Lindelof (best known, loved, and hated for Lost), is about a Rapture-like event. On October 14, approximately 140 million people (two percent of the world) disappeared into thin air. This is an important number: It’s not so overwhelmingly large that so...
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