TV Review: HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’

HBO premieres The Leftovers, which envisions a world coming to terms with the sudden and random disappearance of 2% of its population, Sunday, June 29 at 10 p.m. The new drama comes from Damon Lindelof, the co-creator and showrunner of Lost, and author Tom Perrotta, who wrote the postapocalyptic novel. The first two episodes are directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor). The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Many will hate it. But there will be viewers in whom it strikes a chord so deeply that they will feel themselves overwhelmed by it in the best possible way: not like they're drowning in the misery, but like it's teaching them a new way to breathe.”

— Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

“This series may never explain what happened to the people who disappeared, but the measure of its worth is that it may not have to. As with any good drama, the mystery lies in human nature more than in the supernatural. Once the show gets going, and it takes more than one episode to do so, The Leftovers bores into the characters and the fissures that crack their community so astutely that the cause is almost secondary.”

— Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times

“Even the best version of The Leftovers, if it proves a complete creative success, will not be a show for everyone. Yet it believes fervently, messily, heartbreakingly, that even two percent of everyone means more than you can imagine.”

— James Poniewozik, Time

“Though he’s still a little too fond of dream sequences and wise, watchful animals, Lindelof has successfully cast aside the whiz-bang nerd totems of his previous work and managed to tap into something deeper and more human — which is precisely what makes The Leftovers so unnerving. It’s hard to imagine 140 million people actually up and disappearing from our lives. But an important one or two? Sure. That’s not fantasy, it’s inevitable. Lost was all about second chances. Here, in his own play for forgiveness, Lindelof has given us a mirror shard that cuts like a razor.”

— Andy Greenwald, Grantland

“At least initially, the series is driven largely by its tone (Max Richter’s score is especially helpful in that regard), and it’s bound to make people think, which is by itself something of an accomplishment. Still, viewers will face a choice — probably toward the end of the first season — on whether that’s enough incentive to keep them from joining those 2%.”

— Brian Lowry, Variety

The Leftovers is overwhelmingly, existentially serious, without succumbing to the relentlessly violent and masculine clichés of so much “serious” prestige TV.”

— Willa Paskin, Slate

“I felt less enamored with scattered hints that something bigger and possibly paranormal was in play, and more intrigued with normal human reactions to an epically complex event. If Lindelof and Perrotta can somehow strike a balance of the human, emotional fallout while also delving into an explanation of the oddities involved in "the sudden departure," then The Leftovers could be one of the more riveting new series.”

— Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter