By: Jason Hunter

Miscellaneous Interview Questions

Jan 28, 2009 by Jason Hunter

How do TV shows like LOST develop such a strong cult of followers compared to shows that fizzle out over time like Prison Break? What does LOST do different?

Lost is a completely different show from anything else on TV. Every episode is part of a sequence of “parts” that make up an entire story. Each episode has no beginning or end, unlike other shows like 24, Prison Break, Fringe, or even the x-files. Sure (for all those examples), the shows were telling an ongoing story, but where they differ from Lost is that in each episode there is a definitive beginning and end. Each episode has a certain “closure” which allows the viewer to sit tight until the next week. Even a TV show like “Heroes” is unlike lost because there is a large amount of closure between each season. On the other hand, the subject matter in Heroes is so farfetched that I think people just lose interest over time because they realize

Lost, however, “feeds” viewers bits of information each week, but never truly addresses the core questions to the show – that creates a form of obsession in many viewers as they know there is an “answer” and hope that with each passing episode it gets us closer to understanding that answer. Also, the subject matter of Lost is not entirely farfetched, as it is in shows like Heroes (although based on Season 5 of Lost, I think the show may be taking that direction and I’m worried!). Having a “believable show” with a huge underlying mystery is an entirely new concept and that is why there is such a strong following.

Also, I like to think of lost as a 120 hour-long movie, and not a TV series. Good movies always garner more viewers than the most popular of TV shows.

How is the LOST fanbase different from other TV show’s fanbases?

Lost fans are the type of people who seek meaning in everything they do, see and watch. It’s definitely for the most sophisticated viewer – ones who have huge imaginations and like to think 24/7.

LOST inspires fans to develop their own theories around all the mystery, is this unique to LOST or are all shows capable of this?

Only a show that has a continuous storyline and a few major underlying mysteries will achieve the effect that Lost has on its viewers. The x-files only had a single mystery, so viewers didn’t have “enough” questions to keep them interested from week to week. Lost, however, has at least a dozen major questions which never truly get answered, but they keep getting addresses from week to week in different contexts, keeping them fresh for the viewers.

How does LOST or TV mythology in general differ from mythology in movies?

I actually don’t think it differs at all from Movies. As I started before, Lost is like a very long movie and in my opinion doesn’t resemble anything of an actual TV show (other than the mediocre acting).

How do you feel about the abandonment of the flash-backs/flash-forwards in the season 5 premiere? Does it mark a departure in the season or will it return to the standard format soon? (Not sure if Damon and Carlton mentioned this or not.)

I don’t mind it. We have to accept that given the limited number of main characters on the show, we can’t just keep creating new flashbacks. Each character on the show can only have so much backstory, and adding more flashbacks will just take away from the singularity in personalities – or provide us with more “generic” flashbacks. Also, one might think that introducing new characters might make for more potential to add flashbacks, but let’s not mention what happened when the producers added “Nikki and Paulo” to the story!

Now that we’re full force into time travel, do you think the show (which is already fairly confusing) will meander into nonsense?

Yes, unfortunately, I do. After the season 5 premiere, it was apparent that the producers are willing to venture even further into the concepts of time travel, introducing what I see as more randomness. But, the producers gave us a lot in seasons 1-2, and regardless of how farfetched the show becomes; I will always have the fondness of memories from the earlier parts of the series.

Were you satisfied when season 5 opened with evidence that agreed with your theory?

I think season 5 didn’t really add anything to my theory, nor did it take away anything. It looks like the producers are setting up the series to be some type of rat race, which will ultimately lead us to the final question – can “something” overcome the “rules of fate.” Or is fate a force that cannot be altered no matter how hard you try. I’d guess that the series will conclude with someone being “the chosen” one (maybe Locke) who is one of the few who can break the rules of fate through willpower alone.

Did the premiere change your theory at all?

Nope. I could add something about how the island is “moving” through time at random, but I don’t have a good explanation for that.

What do you think of Faraday contacting Desmond in the past, and Desmond’s realization of the memory in present? (I mention this because some fans find it nonsensical relationg to how time-travel works.)

It just shows that you can alter the past in certain respects, but you can’t actually change what’s written in the future. For example, I could go back in time and tell my friend to eat a salad for dinner, instead of a double cheeseburger – but that might not prevent him from getting fat if that’s what’s destined to happen to him 5 years from then.

LOST as an experiance is much more than the show. When its over, would you like to some sort of comprehensive set that includes all the ARG games, Comic-Con videos, and extra stuff or will these be left on the internet? How important is this extra stuff?

I actually don’t care about the extra stuff. It’s pure marketing an adds marginal value to the show. Given that I have much experience in the world of marketing, I typically make it a practice not to buy into that type of stuff. I only look at it as a moderate form of entertainment.

How will you feel if the show ends differently? How will you feel if it’s exactly what you predicted?

If the show ends differently, I won’t care because my theory, which was created back in 2007, is already 50% true. I consider that a win. If the rest of the show is completely different, then no big deal – I personally think a lot of people will be unhappy with the ending, based on the way the show is going. I say that because there were quite a bit of naysayers when I first created the theory a few years back. There was actually a cult of people who said that the show isn’t all about time travel – well, looks like they were wrong, and I’m willing to bet they’re pretty damn disappointed already. But again, the show has changed so much now and it’s really not that good anymore – it’s just a means to get to the answer. When all is said and done, I hope that we can look back at the series holistically and realize that the mystery presented in the first few seasons was one of the most captivating things we’ve experienced in our time.

First of all, do you have some sort of physics background (or science-fiction lovin’ one) that allowed you to come up with all the specifics of this?

For undergrad, I majored in Business Information Systems – so I actually did take a few physics classes. I’m also a huge fan of movies that involve alternate realities, like the Matrix. My personal favorite movie was Memento, which may classify as sci-fi to some. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out.

When did you first start to put the time loop theory together in your head? Was there a particular moment in an episode that triggered it?

I came up with the theory right after the last episode of season 3 (around May 2007). The scene that “gave it away” was when the Swan exploded and the island lit up. I knew when the Swan exploded that something had changed, or “shifted.” Also the fact that Ben is so nonchalant about everything just proves that he already has things mapped out in his head. The chemistry of those events just made it glaringly obvious that there had to be some type of manipulation of time. From there, I created “the timeline illustration.” Basically, the “theory” originated from the assumption that the island was being suspended in the past – and the differing times were what was driving all of the weird events on the show (ghost, smoke monsters, Jacob, etc). From there, I just needed to diagnose all the “weird” events based on the assumption that the answer to the show revolved around “manipulation of time.”

In early May of 2007, I first showed the theory to some coworkers/fans at my office – then the Q&A; ensued. As I answered their questions, I decided (out of boredom) to start scratching the theory out on paper. The first real form of the theory was a PowerPoint slide that I created at the end of May (I’ve attached that illustration to this email). Over the following few months, I refined the timeline to accommodate some of the questions brought up by my coworkers. Finally, I decided to do a full write-up on the theory and throw it out to the Lost Message boards. I got a lot of positive feedback, so finally, in February of 2008 I decided to move the theory and illustrations on to an actual website.

When did the page first go up? Do you know how many people have visited the site?

From February – June of 2008, my website was averaging about 25,000 visitors/day. At a few points, daily traffic hit 100,000 visitors/day (the day after certain episodes). In March, the website got posted to the front page of DIGG, at which point the website got a million hits in that single day! However, now that the show is on hiatus, the website is only getting around 500-1,000 visits/day.

Another funny thing is that some Lost Fan forums are actively deleting content about my theory because the administrators view my site as “competition” to their own websites.

Have you had any comment from anyone on the show about it?

No one on (or affiliated with) the show has contacted me. Currently, the highest profile person who I’ve spoken with regarding the theory is Nikki Stafford (Author of the “Finding Lost” series). I’m wondering that if my Theory is actually correct, it might be in the best interest of the producers to stay away from me. Drawing more publicity to my website, given it may be “the answer” would definitely make Lost viewers less enthusiastic about watching the remaining 2 seasons of Lost.

Lost fans have been known to be picky and ask a lot of questions (which is why the show is written to be as beautifully complex as it is), so have you found the general reaction to be a positive one or have you been challenged a lot?

I’d say that about 40-50% of the readers think that the theory is spot-on. 40% are skeptical because they don’t feel it answers certain questions well-enough. About 10% of people absolutely hate it – usually because they can’t get past what they perceive to be major holes in the theory. Also, there are a few people out there who discount the theory simply because I misquoted a certain date – thus they don’t view me as even being a “reputable fan.”

I definitely get more criticism when I discuss the theory in the Fan forums. People have even created fan groups on how the show “isn’t all about time travel.” I figure that I won’t be able to please everyone with the theory – some people just don’t like the idea of a single concept being able to explain over 100 hours of a TV show

When it comes to the people who have a negative reaction to the theory, here’s how I feel: I welcome all criticism to the theory; however, if you can’t appreciate that the theory makes an attempt to answer all events on the show, you’re probably going to be in for a disappointment when the series finale rolls around!

How much do you have to alter it after an episode has aired (like the finale, for example, which was a bit of a game changer for the show)?

I’ve only made 1 major alteration to the theory – when we found out that the “flashforwards” were actually in the future (post-2004). In my initial theory, I thought that everyone had left the island in the past, and the characters were reliving 8 years of their lives off the island (from 1996-2004).

Other than that major update, I’ll only add a few paragraphs from week to week – most of them explain how the events in the most recent episode support the theory. Every once in awhile, I’d go and tweak a date or two. For example: I think I’d originally said the island was in a 9 year time loop (the 9-year length was arbitrary at the time); however, when Desmond passed through “the bubble” in the middle of season 4, he went back 8 years in time. So, because 9 and 8 years were so close, I just interchanged the dates. And that in turn made a lot of other things in the theory make sense!

I think the theory is brilliant, and certainly would explain a LOT of the anomalies on the show. That said, you’ve had a lot of people who have discounted the theory for one reason or another, and you are usually able to offer a valid response that still upholds your theory and in turn discounts their rebuttal. Have you ever been stumped by a question from a fan?

The questions that I get hung up on are usually about the “second island.” I just don’t have a good explanation of why it’s there, and if it’s in this “time bubble” with the main island.

When it comes to discussing potential holes in the theory, here’s how I view things:

1. The producers have everything planned out, and there is some unified theory and a clever explanation to why every “weird” event happens on the show. But no matter what, that theory/answer will have some amount holes to pick through, simply because the show offers up too many conflicting events: ghosts, time machines, constants, etc, etc, etc.

2. There is a “cheap” answer to the show which explains all the “weird” things that happen. Let me call out the TV show, “Heroes.” Cool show. But, you’d think the underlying mystery is “WHY do the characters have their super powers?” At least, that’s what the first 2 seasons of the show were able. But, season 3 strolls along, and… oh, they got their powers by an injection at child birth. And, there you have it: a single occurrence sums up all the “weird” things that happen. Pretty anticlimactic if you ask me. And, I most certainly think that the producers of Lost could take the show in this direction as well.

Thanks for bearing with me to this final question, which is: If your theory turns out to be correct, after the moment of ecstacy wears off, will you be sort of disappointed because you saw this ending coming?

I think that no matter what happens, the show is not going to conform perfectly to my theory. So… there may be certain aspects of my theory that get debunked, and some that were pretty close to being right. Like, maybe the smoke monster is fate course correcting, but then again, maybe Ben did in fact “move the island” to a different location. Or, maybe the “button” was creating a time loop, but maybe that was the only application of time travel in the show.

But, to answer your question, no I wouldn’t be disappointed. I spent way more time that I ever dreamed working on this theory. So if the theory turns out to be right, I’ll feel like all this hard work paid off.