The Best TV Show of the Decade: LOST (2004-2010)
I really don't watch that much television (in fact I have more and more aesthetic and moral issues about the whole thing) and I don't get HBO, so take this selection for what it's worth. I watched Lost for years, viewing the first two seasons on DVD but the third through the sixth season on the designated nights on TV, living with the characters and the mysteries as I had never done with a show before. It's the kind of show that inspires incredible fan devotion as it ranges from pop culture riffing to soap opera relationship drama to complex moral questioning amid a constantly shifting and evolving plot, all anchored to some of the best characters you'll ever see on TV. Of course, it was a frustrating show as well, one that was constantly withholding things from its viewers, occasionally got mired in contradictory subplots, and ultimately refused to explain some of its core mysteries, eliciting a bit of a backlash. I understand those who hated the ending, but I disagree with them. I found the final episodes beautiful and emotionally satisfying, and I think they crystallized what had really been at the center of the series all along.
If there is a unifying theme to Lost, it is the human incapacity to create our own redemption. Each major character comes from a flawed, broken home, and is consequently flawed and broken him/herself. They come to the Island and are given a second chance: If they can only put aside their pasts and work together for the future, they could be happy. But one by one, their pasts come back to haunt them, and they fail to find happiness for more than a few moments. Desperately, they seek control, they seek complete free will, confident that if they could just have one more chance, with everything out of the way, they could finally make it right. But it is not to be. The universe is too big, too complex, and too cruel for them to ever be able to control it; they are lost in a sea of troubles, and the only constants they can find are in each other. Each of them must learn to give up this search for control and certainty, to accept some things on faith and hope. Ultimately, redemption can never be forced from within, only bestowed from above. But grace can only be accepted by letting go. That is, perhaps, what heaven is: a place to let go of all the hatreds, worries, gnawing insecurities, and tortured regrets that plague our earthly lives, and accept the people around us in love and gladness. This grace is not earned, it is merely accepted. That is what the final scenes show.
My Favorite Albums of the Decade
I have far less confidence in my musical opinions than I do in my filmic opinions, but I have them anyway and I think this list is pretty solid, so take it or leave it. Albums are restricted to same release time span as movies.
Honorable Mention: Everything else he did this decade, but especially Seven Swans (2004)
2. Funeral (2004) by Arcade Fire
HM: Neon Bible (2007)
HM: Modern Times (2006)
HM: A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
HM: All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
HM: American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)
HM: The Second Gleam (2008)
10. Day & Age (2008) by The Killers
HM: Hot Fuss (2004)
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The rest of the Best of the '00s Posts: Part 1: Intro and #60-55. Part 2: #54-40. Part 3: #39-25. Part 4: #24-11. Part 5: #10-2. Part 6: #1.