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First, we don’t actually know what has happened – people have literally just disappeared into thin air… poof!
Second, the characters are simply brilliant. “This is a defining series. It’s surrounded in mystery. These people [the characters] have been shaped by this unspeakable, unthinkable event,” explains Justin Theroux, who plays Chief Of Police Kevin Garvey Jr in the New York town of Mapleton. “They’ve been affected by what they’ve called The Sudden Departure. It’s something like the biblical Rapture* and it has caused the world to change. Nothing is the same. These survivors are alive, but they’re not living. You know? They’re just going through the motions to the best of their abilities.”
* The Rapture is a biblical event (never actually called The Rapture in the good book, as such) described as when Jesus Christ will descend from Heaven and in the voice of an archangel call the dead and living back to the pearly gates. At least those who’re worthy. They will all ascend almost instantly, leaving anyone not worthy stuck on Earth.
Stuck on Earth
The Leftovers is about those who’re not worthy of going to Heaven, for whatever reason. Kevin Jr, for example, was cheating on his wife at the moment of Departure… in fact, he was in the middle of a midday romp when his ladylove disappeared, leaving him bare-assed in bed and terribly confused, along with billions around the world who lost people. It’s based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name and he’s the executive producer and series creator too.
We pick up three years after the Sudden Departure and people are still searching for answers, which is where we turn our attention to Meg Abbott (Liv Tyler). She’s possibly one of the most important characters because we will all see ourselves in her… because she’s, well, normal.
Being bedded into the Guilty Remnant
“She starts off timid but Meg is such a powerful force,” explains Liv. “She has a lot of feeling inside her. There is a lot of emotion. A lot of anger. She’s a volcano waiting to erupt. There is so much fury toward the world and she’s trying to find her way.”
In Season 1, Meg goes from having a loving relationship and a relatively ordinary life to wanting more – including more answers. She lost family and friends among the 140 million Departurees. But being in Mapleton isn’t easy. She’s one of many people who’re hounded by The Guilty Remnant.
The Remnant are a group of non-speaking, chain-smoking, white-clothes-wearing people whose daily routine involves reminding everyone around them that they’re not worthy and that they’re sinners. They are aggressive. They are organised. And they continually force their presence on everyone in town until the victims of their blame game turn violent and The Remnants can claim that they’re the actual victims.
And it’s this constant oppression that actually causes Meg to join them. She takes an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude, says Liv.
“She wants to get out of her family and her relationship and she uses this group to do that. Joining the Guilty Remnant opens up an entirely new side of her that she just never considered. She’s just on the path of this crazy thing.”
In a way, Meg becomes more important than Kevin because she’s representative of society. She needs more answers because she isn’t accepting of what has happened. She’s angry and she’s alone and she needs to know where The Departed went, but she needs freedom too, freedom that she surprisingly finds in this group of people with so many restrictive rules.
“They wear the same clothes. They don’t talk. Everything they want to say is written on notepads. That frustrates her almost immediately, but she doesn’t give in. Even the food… it’s bland oatmeal. What kind of life is that?” asks Liv. “That’s a problem for Meg while she’s being bedded into The Guilty Remnant because she’s impulsive, complex and all over the place. Normally I go into a character knowing every detail but I couldn’t do that with her. Meg has to evolve almost on the spot and that’s why I love her. When the show ended, I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to Meg. That doesn’t happen to me.”
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