When ABC’s “Lost” first aired in 2004, I admit that I tried to avoid the show because I didn’t want to let the latest primetime trend snatch up my free time. But by accident, I began watching the show a couple of months ago, and it took maybe six episodes to find myself lost in these characters and their stories. I started unaware of the numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations—but it was obvious that the acting and cinematography were superb.
Now I’m awaiting the three-hour premier of Season 5 that airs a week from today. And as I reflect upon why I’m so excited for the story to go on, several reasons come up. First of all, it’s fast-paced. There’s plenty of mystery and the story is primarily plot driven (with character drive intertwined.) Secondly, most of the filming is done on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, so it’s gorgeous and you really feel like you are there on the island. Third, the drama keeps you hooked, as every episode threads into the next. Fourth, well, as mentioned, the cinematography only enhances the dynamic story-telling.
But the real reason I love “Lost?” The reason that it’s not just another form of entertainment?
- —It’s that all the main male characters cry.
Now I’m not one for spoiling details, but I will say that while the major plot rolls on, we get a glimpse into each character’s subplots as well—a snapshot into their life at different points in time. It is through these snapshots that the story breathes life into the characters and that their actions in the main plot make sense.
Through these backstories, we see that the main characters are pained by life and have struggles and weaknesses that they must endure. We are reminded that life is rough, and of how easy it is for a person to feel isolated on a planet of over 6 billion.
All of the main characters are afflicted with the natural pain of living—and when it hurts the most, all of them cry (no all-girls club here).
It’s not that I want to see a man in pain—it’s that seeing a man crying in pain on national television is so refreshing given the generations of stoic cowboy stereotypes of masculinity that current and future generations of males have to hack through to find some semblance of emotional intelligence in an often emotionally parched world. And I’m not talking tear drop from a bullet wound; there is some serious gut-wrenching balling that goes on.
Maybe it’s the norm now, to have strong male characters break down over primetime; I wouldn’t know, since I only sample a few shows. But I find it unusual that a show can pry so deep into my own emotions and make me cry, not once, nor twice, but many times throughout a season—and that half if not most of that time spent crying is from empathizing with a man.
Granted, much of that crying goes on in private, but still—when we get to see it on our TV screens, it becomes public. Why is that men aren’t supposed to cry in public anyway? Is it a sign of weakness? Or is it really a sign of depth? Of the courage to be vulnerable and admit to pain?
It seems to me that we raise our boys differently from how we raise our girls. Crying for a young girl is normal, healthy even (heck—it reinforces a common gender role). But young boys crying? Sure, it’s allowed, but at some point, it’s sissy.
I was babysitting a three-year-old girl last month. I had said that I was hungry, and that I was so glad it was dinner time, so we got to talking about my stomach in the third person (not hard to do with a three-year old):
I had said that my tummy was so happy for a big plate of food, and she said with a giggle, “Your tummy’s happy?”
“Yes,” I replied. “It would be sad if I didn’t have this big plate of food to eat.”
“It would be sad?” she said, lowering the tone of her voice.
“Very sad,” I replied.
“And then your tummy would cry?”
She knew with ease that crying means you’re sad. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or sissy, or not man enough.
Slightly shocked by her wisdom, I wondered, would a male her age be able to respond in the same way? Somehow imagining a little boy in her place seemed out of place, funny if anything. And then I was frustrated for having reinforced a stereotype by making fun of an imaginary three-year-old boy who tells me my tummy would cry if it were sad.
Because if little boys aren’t supposed to cry, then that means big boys aren’t allowed either.
But we all know that’s not true—if you need some remindin’ just tune in to the next season of “Lost,” and you’ll see!