A new book claims a racist environment behind the scenes on the hit series Lost.
It’s been over a decade since the curtain and mystery closed on ABC’s Lost, and now, showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are facing down a set of claims from ex-cast and crew members that allege a toxic working environment. According to Variety, television and film critic Maureen Ryan detailed the claims in her book Burn It Down in which Lindelof comes clean about the racism and toxicity claims hurled at him by other members of the production.
Expressing deep amounts of regret for what transpired while he was running the six-season series, Lindelof says that he “failed” at ensuring that the show’s writers’ room was a place of “safety and comfort.” Stepping forward to share their troubling experiences, a handful of writers sat down with the author to reveal what was really going on behind the scenes of Lost.
One of those actors, Harold Perrineau, who appeared on Lost’s first two seasons as Michael Dawson made it clear that the writers and showrunners were more than comfortable with giving white stars the bulk of the big storylines. Naming his co-star Daniel Dae Kim, Perrineau said that there was no secret that he was “the Black guy” and that Dae Kim was “the Asian guy,” noting that holding onto the heavy-hitting parts of the plot were Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, respectively played by Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, and Josh Holloway.
Although Lindelof came clean to Ryan while speaking about her book, placing the blame on himself for not creating a better working environment, Perrineau says that he broached the topic with a producer when the show was on the air. Sharing his belief and experience that he and other cast members of color were left dangling by the wayside on screen and during photo shoots, the Lost producer told him that this was the way that the audience wanted to watch the series and that the leading members were “relatable,” immediately dismissing Perrineau’s concerns.
While Perrineau was sounding the alarm on the side of the show’s acting talent, the book also reveals that a writer on Lost approached their superiors to flag their concerns along similar lines. Like Perrineau, the writer was instantly shut down by those at the top by being told that the leading characters were the “hero characters” and that, essentially, the other members of the cast were just there for filler.
In a situation where the longer you dig, the worse it gets, Perrineau revealed that he once brought plot concerns to Cuse surrounding his character’s lack of concern when it came to his missing son. “I can’t be another person who doesn’t care about missing Black boys, even in the context of fiction, right?” the star said, adding that this would be the last concern he would ever bring to the co-showrunner. His comments to Cuse came just before Lost’s Season 2 finale with the reveal that his character would not be returning for the third season to follow shortly after.
While a lot has changed on the sets of Hollywood in the over 10 years since Lost went off the air, there are still plenty of instances of workplace toxicity. From allegations coming from the sets of Euphoria and the upcoming The Idol, it seems that as long as people aren’t willing to listen and make changes, there will always be a negative impact.