Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'll be lost without LOST!

Today is Wednesday, which means that usually, starting around 8:45pm, Southern Man and I stop whatever we are doing and head to the living room, turning off our cell phones, shutting down laptop computers, and turning on the television in preparation for Lost. Except that our routine will be broken until January 2010 because the two-hour season finale was last Wednesday, and I can sense, already, that we'll be going into withdrawal when 9pm rolls around.

[This was the promo poster for Season 5--the most recent and penultimate season--and the only character "missing" who really did return was Jin, but that was part of the suspense--to see if he really died at the end of Season 4 (he didn't--he made a miraculous return on a piece of lumber in the ocean, ah the suspension of belief!)]

I've written about my addiction to this show before, and I only lightly touched upon it in that previous post, but really, I used to think that the show was stupid. Who wanted to watch something that was so convoluted that you had to go back and watch previous episodes to get a heads up and where you had this island that no one could get to and some folks running around in the jungle called "Others"--wasn't that some sort of veiled racism?

[Aside: It's not--I mean, the reference to the "Others" doesn't seem to be a racial one, although I suppose you could say that it's a commentary on the way that we, Americans like to turn anything different of foreign into an "other." And it's predominantly an American or Westernized show, filled with Americans and a smattering of Brits and Australians and then we've got Sun and Jin who are supposed to be Korean but are the actors are both Korean American and I just learned that whenever they speak Korean THEIR VOICES ARE DUBBED! This was confirmed in a podcast by one of the show's producers, Damon Lindelof. Which raises all sorts of questions about why they do this and why Jin and Sun need to be Korean and not just Korean American, although I would say that the attempt to add a non-Western, "global" element to the show is important, esp. since they've killed off the "African" character, Mr. Eko--a Nigerian former drug-lord turned holy man.]

OK, so now I've turned into one of those people who are going to be wandering around my living room at 9pm wondering what to do with myself because the show's two-hour finale was last week, and it's on hiatus until January 2010.


But I did want to comment, here, on one element of the show that I think has gone unremarked upon in the Lost forums I've read recently (and I admit, I only read 3, which in my world is probably 3 too many although for true Lost addicts, probably a drop in the bucket): the inter-racial marriage of Rose and Bernard.

As you can see from the above image, Rose is an African American woman and her husband, Bernard, is white. You get their back story in the episode, "S.O.S." (season 2, episode 19)--how they met, Rose's cancer, Bernard's attempt to find a cure for her, being separated when the plane crashed (literally not maritally) and, eventually, being reunited. They are two of the most popular characters on the series, even though they are fairly minor in the Lost universe. And very happily for a lot of viewers (including yours truly) they appeared in this season's finale, having survived all those weird time-shifts on the island, being thrown back into 1977, and miraculously avoiding detection by the Others as well as the Dharma Initiative (and yes, for anyone who isn't a regular viewer you don't know what I'm talking about but that's OK, you can get caught up this summer in preparation for the last season by going to the ABC website and watching all past episodes FOR FREE or just hang on and I'll get to the inter-racial commentary in just a second).

Where was I?

So the fact that Rose and Bernard are of different races doesn't seem to make anyone bat an eyelash--in fact it's almost completely unremarked upon, aside from one comment by Hurley (and you can forgive Hurley because he's got a heart of gold and is a bit of a doofus) who remarks casually to another character (I think it's Jack but I can't quite remember) "Dude, did you know Rose's husband is white?" Jack (or whoever it is) doesn't even react and just says, "So?" And that's about the end of that.

In fact, the interesting thing is that we are introduced to Rose in the pilot, who is seen being comforted by Jack over the loss of her husband, but she tells him that she KNOWS her husband is alive in the tail section and she is just waiting for him to come find her. I'm sure that most folks watching assumed that her husband is black. And it's not until Season 2 when we are introduced to the survivors of the tail section and we see Bernard frantically asking Mr. Eko whether any of the deceased he helped pull out of the water are black women--are his wife. That's when viewers learn that Rose was right--her husband IS alive and he's a white guy.

So the show really doesn't comment about the uniqueness of their inter-racial marriage. Which in some senses makes perfect sense on two levels. First, when you have survived an airplane crash on a deserted island and find that there are all these weird supernatural elements happening and a group of hostile people kidnapping and killing people, well, you've got other things to think about than whether or not people are in an inter-racial relationship. Secondly, it's just not a big deal.

And it's the second part I appreciate. That the show didn't talk about it. But that they did create an interesting back story and characters for these two people who are married--who act like a REAL married couple who squabble and roll their eyes at one another but who also laugh and love and act like people who really care about one another.

Rose and Bernard as a real married couple who love one another AND who happen to be of two different races (and who are also an older married couple, which is another thing I really liked about them--they didn't meet when they were teenagers or young adults, they met when they were middle-aged and they fell in love, which is not a storyline you hear about) makes a very loud commentary without saying a word about race and identity. And their reappearance in the Season finale was a breath of fresh air--and an interesting commentary on the nature of life and love. Because rather than be sucked into the drama of everyone else on the island, Rose and Bernard tell Kate and Sawyer and Juliette that they're done. That they are content to live out the rest of their lives on the island with one another (and with the dog, Vincent, who is also happily still alive) and they don't need to help them stop Jack from detonating a nuclear bomb or fight the Others or return to the present. They just want to be with each other because that's the most happy ending they can think of: to live the rest of their lives in the company of the one they love the most.

Which is, when you think about it, about the best any of us can ever hope for.

[REMEMBER: If you post a comment during the month of May (which is APA heritage month) you will be automatically entered to win one of five books donated by Hachette Book Group. Read the May 14 post (scroll to the bottom) to see the details of the books and how to win]


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Alex said...

I always get a little sad at this time every year because of all of the season finales of my favorite shows! Of course, Lost is at the top of this list. I thought the season finale was intense- esp with John being alive and dead at the same time!

I was wondering where Rose and Bernard were this whole season. I'm glad they brought them back, even if it was for a brief moment, to show that they are happily living on the island in harmony (probably the only ones!) I also wanted to mention that there have been other mixed race couples on the show, namely Sayid and Shannon from season 1. Have there been others? I can't quite remember. Anyway, I love seeing any kind of romance blossom on the show! My Wednesday nights will be much less exciting this summer!

Jennifer said...

TwoStep420, thanks for the props on the post--I look forward to contributing a perspective about race and LOST on And Alex, thanks for reminding me about Sayid and Shannon. I was also trying to think of other inter-racial couples on the show...I suppose if you count Ana Lucia and Sawyer's quick coupling, they could be an inter-racial couple (depending on how you define Latino as a race vs. an ethnicity). Similarly, Hugo and Libby could also be seen as an inter-racial couple of sorts. And certainly Miles seems like he may be a candidate for inter-racial coupledom (although with just one season to go, not sure that we're going to see a love arc develop for him). Anyway, definitely much food for thought.