In a world of fiction that has been recently overloaded with post-apocalyptic drama, it’s nice to have a series like HBO’s The Leftovers that’s more focused on…post-apocalyptic drama. Dammit. Well, if nothing else, at least this series seems to have removed the apocalypse itself from the equation, centering solely on humanity’s post-tribulated ability to cope. That, in turn, removes much of the science fiction element from the plot, but who died and made me the Grand Stickler of Genres? While you ponder on the value of labels in society, check out the Leftovers teaser above, which goes through the five stages of grief. Except acceptance, unless screaming in a swimming pool counts as acceptance these days.
Based on the popular 2011 novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, who co-created the show with high-concept hound Damon Lindelof, The Leftovers takes place in the suburban town of Mapleton, in the aftermath of a Rapture-like purging of the world’s citizens. Dubbed the Sudden Departure, this seemingly unexplainable event caused 2% of the planet’s population to disappear. Is it religious? Alien? Perhaps one big Truman Show hoax? Or something else entirely?
Oddly, for a Lindelof project anyway, the mystery doesn’t seem to be where this story is rooted. The Leftovers is almost overflowing with outward emotions and inward emotions, circling around Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), the new mayor of Mapleton whose family dissolved after the disaster. His wife Laurie (Amy Brennemen) has left to go and join the spookily silent Guilty Remnant, a cult whose intentions aren’t clear at first. Their son Ton has dropped out of college and started following a prophet recluse. Daughter Jill has stuck with Kevin, but with a complete change of personality and perspective. Teenagers, am I right?
The town is still trying to make sense of what happened, and that’s where the Kübler-Ross model’s five stages come in. Let’s be real, though: the clip shows us a ton of anger, a couple of shots of people looking depressed, and that one bargaining bit where the person gets on their knees, clearly about to be killed. Maybe denial is on everyone’s minds the whole time. Especially this person, who had to have been thinking, “I know that’s not an elbow coming straight at my eye socket!”
The new poster is also chock full of seething, destructive, and shirtless anger, as Kevin is mourning against a wall that he just punched into cracked submission.
Find out what happens to Mapleton, and perhaps learn a little bit about your own unfounded fears of departure, when HBO premieres The Leftovers on June 29.