NEW YORK — Not long ago, 2 percent of the world’s population vanished. Quietly, instantly, with no provocation.
This unfathomable loss continues to haunt all those left behind, including residents of the small New York town that serves as the setting for “The Leftovers,” HBO’s eerie new drama premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT.
The 10-episode series brushes over the seminal event, picking up the story as the third anniversary of the Sudden Departure nears. It finds the locals (played by a cast that includes Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Chris Eccleston, Carrie Coon, Liv Tyler and Michael Gaston) mired in grief, bewilderment and discord.
“They have to find a way to come together, but some people are going to be able to achieve that — and others aren’t,” says Damon Lindelof.
“The Leftovers” was co-created by Lindelof (of ABC’s “Lost”) and Tom Perrotta (who wrote the novel that inspired it). Earlier this week they joined an Associated Press reporter to discuss their new project.
Perrotta: “It’s a different kind of apocalyptic story, because the physical world remains intact. It deals with the psychological adjustment to trauma. It follows what people make of this mysterious, traumatic event, which doesn’t fit into either a scientific or religious framework.”
Lindelof: “Some people just try to go back to the way things were before this thing happened. Other people say, ‘This was a sign. I can’t continue to operate the same way, now that this cosmic event has occurred.’ The opportunity we had was to write a show with characters who, in wildly different ways, were trying to get on with their lives. This allows us to execute a genre show that doesn’t feel like a genre show: The only piece of genre happened three years ago, leaving all the characters now to filter their world through the very strange prism it created.”