Twisted Times? The Leftovers Twist on Spin the Bottle

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The premiere episode of The Leftovers showcases the many ways the younger generation struggles in a post-Departure world. The focus is deliberate: "It’s interesting to look at the youth culture in the wake of an event like this," series co-creator Damon Lindelof tells HBO.com. "We’re inclined to think that the younger that you are, the more adaptable you are in terms of accepting, 'This is my world now.' But there is this magnification that occurs in a world that feels like it’s spinning out of control." Lindelof compares the aftermath of the Departure to the feeling after an earthquake: "You know that there’s going to be an aftershock; you just don’t know when it’s going to come."

Exhibit A: the Spin game, an iPhone app serving up a series of taboo dares. "This is a case where moving from book to film involved people bringing new imagination to it," says co-creator and author Tom Perrotta. In Perrotta's novel, the game was Spin the Bottle, but the crowd chose who left the room. "You could reward a sexy couple or you could eliminate your rival by sending them off," he explains.

The ante was upped by director and executive producer Peter Berg, who wanted the party to reflect the post-Departure world. "Teenagers are going off in closets together in our real world – what’s different about this world?" Lindelof recalls. Berg came up with the choking; Lindelof suggested the game be an app.

The party's attendees follow the app's dark directives without question. "Teenagers are nihilistic enough as it is," Lindelof notes, "but in this world, that sense is definitely heightened."