What Happened to All the Women and Minorities on "Lost"?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 24 2010 10:58 AM

What Happened to All the Women and Minorities on "Lost"?

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/05/24/what_happened_to_all_the_women_and_minorities_on_lost/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Of the many bad decisions on display in last night's Lost finale- that weird Sixth Sense ending, the lack of resolution for the show's mysteries, Dominic Monaghan wandering around in skin-tight vinyl-perhaps the most telling was its opening: Five straight minutes of melancholy white people. We start with Jack, a white man; we pass it off to Ben, a white man; from Ben we go to Locke, a white man who is also occasionally a smoke monster; we visit Sawyer, a white man, before going to Kate, a white woman-hey, a woman!-sitting in a car, shortly to be joined by Desmond. For those who haven't seen Lost, a spoiler: Desmond is a white man.

Advertisement

Lost didn't always look like this. When it first aired, in 2004-trigger your inner airplane noise, we're going on a flashback-it seemed like one of the more progressive shows on TV. Its core cast was composed of 14 people; only eight were white. It asked us to maintain interest through hours of subtitled Korean dialogue. One of the main characters, Sayid, was an Iraqi soldier. An Iraqi soldier! Eighteen months after we declared war on Iraq! And he was awesome! In the beginning, Lost seemed downright subversive.

"Seemed" being, of course, the operative word. Lost had a reputation for being clever that it never quite backed up; its diversity, in particular, began to seem like a gimmick that the writers didn't know how to handle. So they got rid of it; by the final episode, Lost had narrowed its focus down to a handful of white dudes. Everyone else was a sidekick. Or worse. The American Prospect 's Michelle Dean also took note of the show's shift away from women and minorities: "While Lost occasionally focused on those who were not white males in flashbacks," Dean writes, "it became clearer and clearer that when the series' final climax came to a head, they would be dispensable."

Consider: All but two of the show's core female characters were shot, blown up, drowned, or driven mad; while they lived, their plot lines were all about giving birth, raising babies, and finding men. Spunky, disobedient Kate was passed between Jack and Sawyer like a football before motherhood gave her life true purpose. Rose, the only remaining black character, disappeared into the jungle and resurfaced only to give wise lectures to white folks. As for the other folks of color, well: Sun and Jin ditched the subtitles and gasped their final "I love you" in English, and Sayid was killed, resurrected, and then forced to re-kill himself with a bomb. A "suicide bomb," you might say. Yeah.

Sure, all of the characters were dead by the final scene, but at least Jack got to stand around and process his feelings about it. Ben-a mass-murdering dictator-was given co-rulership of the Island and invited into Heaven. Ana-Lucia didn't even show up.

Read Slate 's Lost TV Club here .

Photograph of Lost cast by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Sady Doyle is a writer and feminist living in New York. She founded Tiger Beatdown, and writes for Rookie, In These Times, and the Internet in general.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.