The Sci-Fi Series That Makes Lost Look Easy To Follow Did Everything Wrong

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

In the wake of Lost, television networks scrambled to create a hit sci-fi series in the mold of J.J. Abrams’s storytelling. This resulted in copycats that shared the same heightened reality, deep mysteries, conspiracies, sprawling ensembles, and no answers for the audience. NBC decided to put everything wrong sci-fi of this era into one series, The Event, a forgotten one-season wonder that is one of the worst shows ever made.

The Mystery Of The Event

This may be a sign that television has rotted my brain, but I still remember the marketing campaign for The Event, which would show clips from the show followed by the tagline “is not the event.” A plane disappearing through a portal? Not the event. The same plane crashing in the desert? Not the event. Weeks before the first episode ever aired, NBC was selling the show based on the mystery of what event was so big it changed everything.

The Lost Template Is A Recipe For Failure

Lost sold itself based on the mystery of the island after the plane crash, Surface was clear that there was something in the water, Flashforward was clear about what a flash-forward was, but marketing for The Event was banking on the mystery itself being the entire selling point. It didn’t work, as from the very first episode, fans were complaining about how the story was being told.

Easily Confusing Jumping Along The Timeline

Episode 1 is told along three separate timelines that eventually do intersect, and normally, I love the Rashomon style of storytelling, but even Vantage Point knew to keep everything centered on one event. Ironically, The Event is all over the map, with a kidnapping on a cruise ship, a secret government black site prison, and a plane being used as a tool to assassinate the President, with each story coming together (well, two out of three) when a portal opens up and sends the plane into an Arizona desert.

Again, that’s not the event.

The Arrival Of Aliens Is Not The Event

The second episode is also filled with flashbacks, and finally, the main thrust of the series is revealed, as that government black site is actually a holding facility for aliens that crash-landed on Earth in 1944. Led by Sophia (ER’s Laura Innes), the aliens were coming to Earth for unknown reasons, with an unknown agenda, and there’s an unknown number of them. The event at the center of The Event is not aliens arriving on Earth.

The Event added new layers to the government conspiracy and the alien mystery in every episode, with sleeper agents, betrayals, and shocking revelations that prove everything we knew about a character (or two…or three…) was wrong. The event takes place in the closing moments of the season finale, which, thankfully, was also the series finale. I won’t spoil it just in case you want to experience the series for yourself, but you can likely guess what it is, and yes, you’re correct.

Massive Ratings Drop

It’s only through the magic of hindsight that I can say The Event wasn’t worth the journey. When it debuted, the show was an instant hit. Over 10 million viewers tuned in for the first episode, and it took four episodes for the audience to drop. By then, viewers realized that the series had no interest in solving any mystery anytime soon, and that caused a massive ratings drop, which only got worse with each episode.

Even The Star Admitted Mistakes Were Made

Blair Underwood, who played the President of the United States in The Event, publicly stated, “We had been jumping around a lot and doing flashbacks, and that was confusing to people. So when we come back, that device is done with! We are now telling the story straight through so people can track it and follow it easier.”

As if that wasn’t enough confusion for the audience, The Event, again aired in 2011, tried to capitalize on social media with Twitter accounts for different characters and an entire blog written in-universe. The social media accounts would comment on the just-aired episode and even reveal information to the audience, forcing fans to engage with multiple accounts and websites to get the complete story.

Only Watchable Via Video On Demand


At the end of the day, The Event was a bold experiment in network television sci-fi that tried to do too much. None of the performances are embarrassing, and there’s real potential in the story, but by constantly keeping the mystery going with no real answers, nothing else matters. Even Lost would eventually be remembered for being a waste of time.

The Event is only available through video on demand via AppleTV, Google Play, and Vudu.