How Criticism Reinvented ‘The Leftovers’

Imagine if you could have blogged, “Let’s not determine Laura Palmer’s murderer right now” or “Patrick should give up on Spongebob, it’s never going to happen” or “He really needed to get eaten alive” — and had your opinion-dumps be taken for gospel, changing TV history in service of the greater good? 

Generally, before a new season, we can assume that producers and networks band together to assess critical and audience reactions to the former season. Rarely have these assessments seemed so visible, and so loyal to specific critiques, as the second season of The Leftovers. Watching Season 2, it seems less like creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta reimagined their show than that every critical blog post conjoined in a communal, idealized fan fictional doppelgänger of the original.

The process of constructing a new vision for the show based on accidentally constructive criticism could have gone completely awry, resulting in disjointed and excessive pandering, but the creators appear to have had an impeccably coherent plan for addressing the critiques: they’ve maintained a semblance of the show they first made while restructuring it on the most fundamental levels.