I love Lost. I know that its cool to say how badly it ended and that it was clear in retrospect that they didn’t know what they were doing and so on but thats not really what I’m here to write about today. There is a million and one think pieces about the show itself. I want to talk about one of the main reasons I have such a strong connection to that show; the fandom and community.
I started watching the show a little late, season one was just wrapping up as we were getting it in the UK. After watching the first three episodes in one night I went online and bought dodgy dvds of the rest of the season. That was how we did it back in 2004!
As season two started I started downloading the show from weird corners of the internet. Around the same time Apple had their iPod/iTunes event where one of the big things they talked about was adding the ‘Podcast’ feature to the service, well this is new and exciting I thought, so I went on and checked it out. I had listened to a couple of podcasts previously, though they might not have been using that word yet and they were always directly from the host website. Having them on iTunes was a game changer.
Lost was the new hotness and I was obsessed already, talking about and theorising about the show with anyone who would listen. My brother was hooked as was my best friend Sam. She and I would talk for hours about what the fuck could be down the hatch and what did Rousseau’s numbers have to do with everything. So I started searching for Lost podcasts on iTunes, I don’t know how many popped up that first time, it wasn’t many, but I decided to give a listen to The Transmission with Ryan and Jen. I was hooked. They did such a great job of breaking down and analysing each episode quickly after it aired. Listening to this husband and wife team talk about the show was like talking to Jon or Sam about it. They had similar theories or spotted something we didn’t and would approach everything with such a positive attitude that it was totally infectious. They had a unique prospective on the show too, living on O’ahu where almost every shot from the show is filmed.
As that podcast grew in popularity they started getting more frequent input from a few recurring people, there was Jay and Jack who had started (the very originally named) The Lost Podcast with Jay & Jack and there was Ben and Ralph from The Dharmalars podcast. Both these shows would get frequent shout outs from Ryan and Jen so I started listening to Jay and Jack straight away. As season two of Lost went on it became clear that The Transmission wasn’t going to be releasing on a regular basis due to the surprise of a new child in Ryan and Jen’s lives, so The Lost Podcast became my primary source of extra curricular Lost knowledge.
Jay and Jack were so natural on the mic that it was amazing they had never done anything like this before. They tried to play up the mystery of their relationship at first but it was soon figured out that they were step-father and son but were closer than most biological father and sons. Their back and forth was hilarious and because of Jay’s musical background the production on the show was fantastic, especially considering it was a bedroom recording. Jack’s crackpot theories were always a joy as he played up to comedy and colour commentary to Jay’s more straight man/play by play approach. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game you understand the dynamic I’m talking about. I would occasionally write in to the podcast and it was always a thrill to have an email read and a discussion bought up based on my thoughts and theories.
There podcast soon became one of the most downloaded on iTunes beating out the official Lost podcast almost every week. I believe they inspired a lot of people, myself included, to give podcasting as a format a go for themselves.
The Dharmalars was a much more laid back kind of show, Ralph and Ben were buddies who were just hanging out and shooting the shit. They would talk about Lost but they also would talk about a bunch of other stuff including comic books, baseball games and what they were going to stick in their Netflix queue that week. It was fun and a break from the in depth analysis of the other shows. Unfortunately that show also ceased to be after a while due to busy lives, but Ralph continued to be a frequent contributor to Jay and Jack’s show as they became good friends.
Another show that popped up and was tangentially related was Metrobuzz, a podcast by friends Coleen and Adam out of New York. That show was more about New York living in their early twenties and didn’t really ever have an agenda, some of their best episodes were when one of the co-hosts and their roommate would be sat on the roof of their apartment building getting drunk on wine and recording the whole thing. It was hipster before hipster was a thing. I discovered their show when they did a parody episode in the style of Jay and Jack, they did a whole episode aping them without any forewarning or ever talking to them before, it was hilarious.
Back then message boards were still a thing and I would frequent the Metrobuzz board and became friendly with a bunch of the people mentioned above as well as familiar names from emails sent in to shows like Cliff and Alirio. A few years running I would get very jealous in July when all these people from all over North America would all descend on San Diego Comic-Con, it was at one of these events that Jay and Coleen first met in person, they’ve now been married for years and are expecting their second kid next year, its incredible the relationships that have formed basically around a TV show.
In 2009 I finally had enough money to be able to go to SDCC myself, I wasn’t going to miss that show, it was the summer before the final season of Lost and likely the last year of their historic panels in Hall H. After lots of planning and organising the podcast family as it had become planned a meet up on the Wednesday preview night of the show so I finally got to introduce myself in person to all these people I’d been listening to for years. They were such a cool, welcoming group that it was fun to hang out with and participate in a couple of live recordings.
Comic-Con has grown even more since then but to get into that seven thousand seat auditorium I had to get up and get in line at 3am. It was nuts. Luckily almost everyone from the extended podcast family was in line too so we all kind of just bound together going for food and drink runs and keeping each other energised so that we wouldn’t crash before the long day ahead. It was an experience I’ll never forget and friendships were formed that I’ll always cherish. While I was in the airport waiting to go home I had a tap on my shoulder and turn around to see Ryan from The Transmission. We’d met a couple of times over the weekend but he’d spotted me and wanted to come say hi and to give me some candy from Hawai’i. He said to let him know if I was ever able to make it over there.
Years later and Sara and I were planning our honeymoon. We’d decided on Hawai’i, in no small part because of Lost. I hadn’t spoken to Ryan in years other than happy birthday messages on twitter and such. I decided to reach out though to see if he had any recommendations of places off the beaten track we should check out. He was so great at replying, remembering exactly who I was, congratulating us and pointing us toward some of the best poké, burgers, breakfast joints and sights in Hawai’i. It really helped make the trip for us.
I still consider most of those guys friends and will chat with some of them fairly regularly online.
I hope I get to hang out with them in person at some point in the future.
Its because of those friendships, not just mine, but theirs with each other too, that I love Lost so much. It spawned a generation of people talking about tv shows and was at the forefront of what we not consider to be ‘peak tv.’ There are only two series that I would love to wipe my memory of and enjoy fresh all over again, but only if I could have the same experience outside the show too. Lost is one of them and the other I’ll leave you in suspense about as I plan on writing about that at some point too. Lost is the only show I’ve ever formed so many friendships from though.
I hope you all have something similar that warms your heart when you think about it. I’d like to hear about it, drop me a message on twitter @jhewlett with yours.
I’ll see you tomorrow.