Dear Lost Fans: There Is Weekly Group Therapy for Your Obsession
There are some unnerving similarities between Lost obsessives and Red Sox fans. Lost devotees watch this show the way that most Massholes watch baseball: en masse, with an unfailing dedication and a sense of unity previously only thought to exist at European soccer games. They stick with their favorite characters when they're down -- and by down, I mean disappearing into the jungle for a few episodes -- and hold out during bad seasons (or an 86-year curse). These are the people who hung around when things on the island got a little too ridiculous for the rest of us, and they all come together every Tuesday, as they've been doing every week since the season's February premiere, at the Knitting Factory for "Lost: The Final Season Therapy Sessions."
At these weekly gatherings, a Jack and Coke is a Jack and Kate, a Gin and Juice is a Jin and Sun, and an Irish car bomb is a Smoke Monster. More importantly, however, a can of PBR is a Dharma beer (named for the show's Dharma Initiative, the mysterious social experiment/science project that first put non-native people on the island). There's even a bake sale with Lost-themed cupcakes and cookies. In general, it's the sort of atmosphere that when a relatively normal dude -- less a very patchy beard that looks like it'd been left unattended on a deserted island for, oh, six seasons -- goes up to the bar and orders "two Dharma beers," there is no shame in his voice. Or when you see a young man rolling PBR cans in stickers adorned with the fictional Dharma logo, it nearly ruins the magic, like seeing Mickey Mouse remove his head. Everyone here is in this together: a packed house of 20-something couples and groups of friends, huddled together, sipping their Dharma Beer, and intently discussing whether Locke is in fact the Smoke Monster. The only outsider may be the bartender who was unfazed by the record number of Mai Tais (aka "The Locke") he'd be making over the course of the evening.
"Lost [night] is not a bro-fest," says Jeff Curtin, one of the event's founders and member of the "recap rock" band Previously on Lost. He describes the crowd demographic as "fans of TV, fans of Lost, and fans of alcohol." Like any public TV viewing event, the attendees are also fans of group bonding. "People end up hugging complete strangers next to them."
Earlier in the season, the two members of Previously on Lost, composers of such songs as "The Island Won't Let You Die" and "Ballad of Sayid," would perform at the therapy sessions as an opening act, a kind of ceremonial bullpen warm-up. The duo was absent last week, though they'll be back for next week's April 13th show as well as the huge series finale party at Bell House on May 23rd. But even without the band, the audience's enthusiasm is apparent. When the show begins, and those infamous words "Previously on Lost..." ring out, a cheer goes up from the packed bar. The moment the recap starts, however, everything falls silent. Dead silent. Silent like you can hear the bar's ice melting. Silent like the bartender appears to be tiptoeing. Then the first commercial break comes and there is a mass "Oooooh!" followed by immediate chattering for the duration of the muted ads. "Giving a big 'Hooray!' when Sayid takes out someone with his little finger," Curtin says, is the best part of the shared experience. "When Jack says anything, we [also] enjoy not caring together."
Everyone at Lost therapy seems to agree that they're in an emotionally abusive relationship with this show, but they just can't bring themselves to let go. "I'm gonna get angry every episode until the finale," says a woman sitting at the bar, who'd just pounded her fist in all seriousness. Adds another, "This is soooo Days of Our Lives." [Spoilers mildly possible ahead.] "Are you fucking kidding me!?" comes a voice next to the cookie table when Jack makes up a medical reason that Sun's hitting her head on a tree has made her forget how to speak English. The absurdity is apparent and it's accepted, seemingly even by the writers of the show. At one point Sawyer says to Locke, "Can't you just turn your ass into smoke and fly over there?" Laughter you wouldn't think could be sparked by a sci-fi drama erupts -- this crowd is working off six seasons worth of inside jokes.
"It's true that the dialogue this season has read more like board-game instructions," admits Curtin. "They're trying to tie things together and define the rules of the world." As for the end of it all, these fans, like most, are simply hoping to have all their questions answered (and there are a LOT of them). "I think every season so far has ended with a giant explosion," Curtin recalls. "We're thinking the series finale will be a giant implosion where all the TVs in the world get sucked in." He alludes to a very valid concern among this particular crowd: What is life after Lost? Unlike the figment of New England's imagination known as Red Sox Nation, there is no next season for these fans, no new players to save the day when their beloved castaways have dug themselves into an unfathomable plot hole. They've got to accept whatever Terry -- er, ABC feeds them. At the end of such a franchise, who among us doesn't need some therapy?