I first got into ABC’s hit TV show Lost about two years ago. A friend recommended it, and by the time I got to the end of Episode 4 of Season 1, I was completely hooked. (This, by the way, is my Recruitment Rule for Lost: watch the first four episodes. If you don’t like it by then, dump out.) I am so hooked, in fact, that I often tout Lost as the best show in the history of television. I don’t simply love Lost for its terrific acting, wonderful writing, quirky plotting, or mind-boggling twists. I also love it because of its subtle conservatism. Here are the top five conservative characters on Lost. Beware – SPOILERS INCLUDED:
1. Sawyer: Josh Holloway’s Southern con man, James “Sawyer” Ford, is the best conservative character on television, bar none. Sure he sleeps around – what con man worth his salt doesn’t? But he votes Republican – in Episode 16 of Season 1, Outlaws, Sawyer admits that he has never voted Democrat. He’s a proud gun-toter, carrying rifles and pistols with equal authority. He’s a true capitalist, buying and selling like Warren Buffet at a flea market. And he hates communism. When one female character suggests that everyone share a cache of food, Sawyer sneers, “Oh sure, Moonbeam, and then maybe we can all do Trust Falls and sing Kumbaiya.” Sawyer is the first to engage in racial profiling – he labels fellow crash survivor Sayid a terror suspect in Episode 1, Season 1 – but he also develops a deep friendship with Sayid as the show progresses. And boy is he tough. In Season 2, he rips a bullet out of his shoulder with his bare hands. Ask Al Franken to do that.
2. Locke: John Locke is the most mystical character on TV. He’s constantly insisting that the Island has brought him there for a reason – and that there’s a grand scheme underlying everything. He believes in miracles – and after surviving an eight-story fall, regaining the use of his legs, and healing after being shot through the abdomen, he has a point. He’s explicitly labeled a “Man of Faith,” as opposed to Jack Shephard’s “Man of Reason.” And he’s proved right, time and again. John’s also a tough guy. He signed up for a wilderness hike while he was paralyzed. He slaughters boar in his spare time. He stares down smoke monsters. He teaches ten-year-olds how to throw knives. His motto: “Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do.” As opposed to the liberal motto: “Please Give Me Your Money.” So think of him as Rick Warren meets Bear Gryllis.
3. Benjamin “Henry Gale” Linus: AKA Benry. Benry is evil to be sure – but he’s pure, solid, wonderful evil in the mold of Dick Cheney. He’s a conniving, backstabbing, brilliant leader, a guy who will do anything to win – and anything to save the Island. He’ll even speak Turkish, then kick Tunisian ass:
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He’s also a family man. Which also leads him to kick ass after his daughter is killed in Season 4. Liberals would never try this tactic. They would sit there wondering why the Arabs don’t understand them or why the bad just guys just killed their daughter. Benry goes ballistic. He’s dangerously nuclear. But he’s also nuclear awesomeness.
4. Mr. Eko: Mr. Eko is the conservative icon. He’s a former drug dealer who repents due to his brother’s religiosity. Eko’s belief in God leads him to continue pressing the button in Season 3 – a good move, as things turn out. But when he’s challenged, he doesn’t back down. After drug dealers try to steal medical supplies from the village where he has taken over as priest, he takes them out … machete-style. His super-cool line: “You do not know who I am.” They know a bit better after he chops off their arms. He’s Shaft in a starched collar. Eko maintains religious righteousness on the Island, using a stick marked with Scripture – as Charlie Pace calls it, the “Jesus stick” — to beat up evildoers. Charlie actually helps him build a church on the Island.
5. Charlie and Claire: I cheated here, but this is a Top 5, not a Top 6. Charlie is a former rock star who got too into the drugs and sex, then gave it up once he reached the Island. He realizes the power of repentance, and he becomes a self-sacrificing hero. Claire is a single mother who decides against abortion, and decides instead to put the baby up for adoption. Her plane crashes on the way to Los Angeles, and she is forced to give birth and raise the baby by herself – until Charlie falls in love with her. Charlie convinces Claire to baptize the baby, and they form a quasi-nuclear family.
Lost is a show chock-full of conservative values. It mentions God and quotes the Bible on a regular basis. It debates science vs. faith and free will vs. determinism. It promotes the value of the nuclear family – virtually every character on the show has dealt with a broken home, and they all pay the price for it. One of the episodes is even entitled All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues.
Everyone knows that Lost is tremendous science fiction. Everyone knows that Lost broke the mold with its flashbacks – and that shocker at the end of Season 3. But everyone should know that Lost is one of the most conservative shows on TV. That’s part of what makes it so juicy. And that’s why I can’t wait for January 21 and the Season 5 premiere.