Everything Television: Examining HBO's The Leftovers

Gifts from The Guilty Remnant

The galleries below are all the things I've been sent from HBO since the beginning of The Watchers program. From what I gather, the program began around week 2 or 3 of the series. HBO sent me an email asking me to participate in The Watchers program, and because my level of curiosity was higher than the level of cautiousness I felt about sending my address to a complete stranger over the internet, I accepted. Luckily that decision has paid off in spades.

The first package I received, not too long after episode 4, contained the notecard, the 'We Are Living Reminders' decal, the dossier, the 'Don't Forget Me' Zippo, the Holy Wayne burner, and the empty box (maybe my favorite of all, as it is a really clever GR analogy for society's emptiness, and a great call back to the pamphlet the GR hands Tom at the bus stop). Cryptic text messages have been sent to the cell phone throughout the season. Some are regarding Wayne, while others have been suggested reading before and after episodes, and teasers for things to come. The texts are as follows:

07/31/2014 - 02:25pm - Watchers: Welcome to The Leftovers.

07/31/2014 - 10:14pm - Watchers: http://is.gd/YoureInvited

08/01/2014 - 11:14am - Watches: A hug from Wayne always comes with wise words. "You want it gone because you don't deserve it. You do deserve hope."

08/02/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: "Nothing is forbidden." Are these the words of an angel...or an assassin?

08/04/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: Your pre-'Solace for Tired Feet' reading: Job 1:21

08/09/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: Reacquaint yourself with this Holy Wayne quote: "This girl, she's everything, yes?"

08/10/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: Is Holy Wayne taking notes from...Job? "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart."

08/10/2014 - 11:00pm - Watchers: Your post-'Solace for Tired Feet' coordinates: 30.0500 N, 31.2333 E.

08/10/2014 - 11:30pm - Watchers: Your post-'Solace for Tired Feet' reading: Quran 12:5

08/15/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: Coming revelation about someone's "hijacked" grief. Any guesses?

08/17/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: In the words of Patti Levin: "It's not gonna be long now."

08/17/2014 - 10:14pm - Watchers: A precarious position, indeed. "Can't let me go, won't let me die."

08/17/2014 - 11:00am - Watchers: Your post-'Cairo' reading: William Butler Yeats' 'He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace.'

08/23/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: Who is saying this...and to whom? "Something is wrong...inside you."

08/24/2014 - 10:00pm - Watchers: "We're reaching the point of no return." But is that a bad thing?

08/24/2014 - 11:00pm - Watchers: Rather prophetic words from Patti: "This is the big one. Like the world is gonna end."

08/24/2014 - 11:00pm - Watchers: Your post-'The Garveys at Their Best' reading: 'A Man Said to the Universe' by Stephen Crane.

09/04/2014 - 10:14pm - Watchers: Such nice sentiment is right around the corner: "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

09/05/2014 - 10:14am - Watchers: If Holy Wayne granted you one wish, what would you wish for?

The second package arrived the Saturday before episode 8, "Cairo," aired. It only contained one thing: a shrink wrapped copy of the classic children's board game 'Trouble.' I wish I could say that I left it shrink wrapped, only to tear it open after episode 8 where Jill finds Nora's gun stashed away in her children's copy of the game, but I have a 2 year old, and as soon as she saw it, she wanted it opened.

The final package arrived yesterday, the Friday before the finale. I was somewhat surprised to receive something else so late in the game, and even more surprised by how heavy it was. Like the first box, this one was also an all white acrylic plastic box, but this latest one felt a little more ceremonially. Not only was it heavier than the first, but it also had hinges, and no distinguishable markings on the outside. I opened it up to find a solitary digital picture frame surrounded by a dense styrofoam cradle. I plugged it in expecting nothing more than production stills, but what I found on the memory stick really piqued my interest. The memory stick contained a single file, and it was labeled: 'lft_302_justin.mp4.' Excitedly, and somewhat creeped out, I exited the menu and let the mp4 play. I uploaded the video to youtube, you can watch it below:

As you may have noticed in the gallery above, at about the 30 second mark, the Guilty Remnant member on the left holds up a sign that reads: "Stop wasting your breath, Justin." Towards the end of the video she holds up the familiar "We are living reminders" sign, and the video ends; 4 minutes of silent staring. I have to admit, the silent staring, even knowing it's fake, was somewhat unnerving.

Say what you will (and I have) about the series, but the viral marketing for The Leftovers, and the thought behind it, is second to none.