14 Reasons to Spend October Watching The Leftovers

On October 14, two percent of the world’s population inexplicably disappears. The Leftovers is the story of those left behind, specifically the Garvey family.

In honor of the anniversary of “The Sudden Departure,” the pilot episode of The Leftovers is now available to watch for free. Start there, and move to HBO NOW or HBO GO to stream every episode. To prep for your binge-watch, Watching The Leftovers is offering 14 reasons to dig into this compelling drama – whether you’re starting it for the first time or beginning again.

1. Performances That Are Next Level
The Leftovers houses characters that are deeply and profoundly wounded, but the acting is so on point that you will still find them completely engaging. Every performance, from Season 1 to 2, sinks into the show and grounds its character in this unique world. 

2. It’s Wholly Unpredictable
Looking for a show that will challenge your very notions of what TV is? Look no further. From concept to execution, this is a series that doesn’t just want to keep you guessing, but wants to shake you out of your usual couch potato slouch. 

3. Half the Fun Is Just Trying to Figure It All Out
If you enjoyed Damon Lindelof’s Lost, chances are you like a show that also acts as a puzzle. Great news: The Leftovers offers plenty to speculate about. Pieces are scattered—from animal motifs to National Geographic magazines to dream sequences—throughout each episode. It’s left to us to figure out what’s meaningful to the story and what’s, well, just speculation.

4. Title Sequences Beyond Run-of-the-Mill Credits  
The Leftovers’ title sequences typically follow a powerful cold open (more on that in a moment) and play with the show’s themes. Season 1 features biblical paintings paired with an ominous score, while Season 2 urges viewers to “let the mystery be,” with the help of a sing-songy acoustic melody from Iris DeMent and empty silhouettes of the departed. 

5. Unique Season Cold Opens
The first scene of each season stands before the title sequence, like a mini-film of its own, sharply informing the forthcoming season’s narrative. 

6. Reality-Meets-Fantasy-Meets-Something Else Entirely
To say The Leftovers is a sci-fi drama isn’t quite right. Nor is it deeply rooted in reality. Like some of its characters, the heart of the mysterious series takes place somewhere in the between, challenging the viewer to look at concrete aspects of our world – life and death – in a different light.

7. Successful Adaptation Story
Tom Perrotta’s novel created a solid foundation for Season 1 of the series, but eventually
the show moved on with its own narrative in Season 2. The characters remain consistent, the symbolism continues to draw you in and the writers do a great job making the story their own, including the introduction of new characters played by Regina King, Kevin Carroll and Jovan Adepo.

8. It’s a Theologian’s Dream
Sure, there’s speculation about where 140 million people went—and heaven and hell are certainly discussed—but the idea of “The Rapture” is more of an undercurrent that irks us to think of belief outside the doors of any house of worship.

9. The. Soundtrack. Though. 
Whether you’re listening to composer Max Richter’s soulful scores or nodding along to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound,” The Leftovers’ soundtrack is as surprising as it is subtle. A mix of pop, punk, folk, hip-hop, electronica and gospel, the music taps into the series’ many moods.

10. Changes of Scenery
It’s rare for a series to pack up and move each season, but The Leftovers has perfected changing locations. Starting out in the fictional suburb of Mapleton, New York before road tripping it down to (also fictional) Jarden, Texas; the series has a unique habit of plopping us in the middle of mysterious places while simultaneously—and secretly—planning its next move. 

11. Women on Top
Justin Theroux’s Kevin Garvey is at the front and center, yet characters played by Amy Brenneman, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Regina King and Liv Tyler are the show’s anchors. Their stories of loss and resilience propel each episode, and Kevin’s emotional growth, forward.

12. A Show to Savor
Of course the show is bingeable (2 seasons, 20 hours,) but it’s also a nice change of pace to watch something you want to sit with, breathe with, think about and discuss. 

13. It’s the “cult classic” of HBO
No pun intended with the use of the word “cult,” a review leading into Season 2 described Season 1 as “cult television of the highest order.” So sure, you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you loved The Sopranos, and you are getting into Westworld. But The Leftovers is an entire thought-provoking drama waiting to be discovered. A true fan dives deep, and if you want to proclaim yourself a real HBO aficionado, this is the show to check out.

14. Warning: This Show Is Going to Give You All the Feels.
This is not a lighthearted romp, this is deep (but completely rewarding) TV. The topic will inspire you to consider identity and family. You will be moved by the score, actors, cinematography and script. You may finish an episode and need to call someone immediately, just to reach out to another person. But that’s what you want, right? A show that will make you react is a show worth watching.

The first episode of The Leftovers is available to sample for free.