Thursday, 14 August 2014

HBO renew THE LEFTOVERS, but will the audience soon depart?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

It's no surprise that THE LEFTOVERS has been given a second season by HBO, as it's been holding strong in terms of ratings. An average of 1.5 million people are watching every week, which isn't much of a dip on the premiere's high of 1.77m. The numbers also rise when you factor in all the ways people consume television these days (the week's repeats, streaming), with the first two episodes averaged a far more substantial 8 million viewers.

Michael Lombardo, President of HBO Programming:
"It has been truly exciting to see the overwhelming response to their provocative and original storytelling. We look forward to continuing the journey as the show delves deeper into the lives of those who remain."
The Leftovers is an interesting and well-made show, so I have no problem with it getting a second season. I just wonder if ratings will continue in this vein. A part of me still believes lots of people are watching the show expecting answers, whereas those with a deeper interest in TV have already been told not to expect any.

If the season finale on 7 September doesn't resolve anything about the concept's core mystery (where did 2% of the world's population disappear to?), will a quiet majority of viewers suddenly vocalise their disapproval? Are ratings destined to slide the longer answers fail to materialise, or will people be happy just seeing a drama built on ramifications? And will the show increase viewership between seasons? I don't hear many people recommending The Leftovers to friends, without big caveats (i.e. "it's quite slow so give it time", "it can be a bit of a downer", "they're probably not going to tell you where the people went, okay?")

I haven't seen a more divisive show in a long time. Even my own opinion fluctuates during episodes, let alone in the days between them. There are ideas and storylines that are working very well, and the occasional brilliant episode ("Two Boats and a Helicopter", "Guest"), but I'm still finding it hard to care about many of the regulars, and some of the storylines are just plain boring to me. Not expecting answers from the start has helped matters, because it's curtailed growing frustrations I might otherwise have had, but I wonder how long The Leftovers can run before answers begin to feel like a necessity...

I mean, will the series finale of The Leftovers not reveal ANYTHING about what the hell happened? What does a series finale of The Leftovers even look like, if answering the mystery isn't an option? It's my fascination about how the show's going to develop that's keeping me watching the most... what about you?