As you may have heard, Lost recently came to its overly complicated end. The final episode faced the impossible tasks of tying up six years of bizarrely frayed storylines and ending the journeys of over a dozen major characters in one two and a half hour chunk.
Obviously, only the most central plot points and themes could be covered. So why, then, would a show which always focused more on building complicated mythologies and dealing with huge life questions than on developing credible romances devote so much of its finale to kissing and flirting?
During the final episode, all of the characters existing in the “Sideways world” were brought back to consciousness of their real lives on the island through a renewed connection with another character. The vast majority of these enlightening encounters were romantic; most of the characters only remembered their past selves once their lips were touched to another’s. This implies that these romantic/sexual relationships were the most important element of these characters’ existence, that their stories are fundamentally love stories.
For some characters, such as married couple Sun and Jin or would-be family unit Claire and Charlie, the lovers’ reunion as memory trigger makes sense. But for most, it seems an odd summation of their time on the show. Is Jack’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Kate truly the key to his character? Are Sawyer and Juliet, both of whom played many different roles on the island and went through drastic changes, best summed up by a reminder of their season 5 romance? Is Sayid’s tortured existence, focused for so long on his search for Nadia, really hinged on his random-seeming affair with Shannon, a character who died back in season 2?
The most exciting and meaningful relationships on Lost were never the romances but the rivalries, the clashes of competing viewpoints. The show’s flirtations and sexual tensions always seemed an afterthought, lines and moments added in because some amount of romance is expected in a network drama, not because much of the show truly depended on love affairs. Having seen every episode of Lost, it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed that the finale treads the well-traveled path of making it all about romance.
Watching the last episode of Lost, it’s hard not to wonder if our culture is even capable of telling stories that aren’t about sex or romance. It’s difficult to imagine a major film without at least a romantic subplot, or a TV show with no love interests, or even a popular song that isn’t about sex or relationships. While certainly these are important elements of many people’s lives, this cultural obsession with love seems a bit unnecessary. There are, in fact, other parts of live to talk about.