Rewatching ‘Lost’ In a Pandemic and Having Intense Feelings About Sawyer
“Sawyer swims in jeans the most. And it’s not even always in an emergency.”
This is the first in a new series I am starting called Very Specific Interviews™ where I will ask people about a very specific thing. Today I am talking to Toronto writer Sarah Hagi about Saywer from the show Lost, which ran on ABC from 2004 to 2010.
Sarah, thank you so much for being the first interview in Very Specific Interviews,™ First off, I’d like to congratulate you for deciding to watch Lost during the pandemic. You have made such a wonderful choice. It is so trusting and naive and hope-filled. That said, it is also nihilistic enough to feel truly authentic. Your choice to watch Lost reflects the times we live in, which is apparently important. With all the shows available what made you decide on this one?
Lost really is a fantastic show. People talked so much shit about it being dumb, but watching it with fresh eyes and zero discourse and also not knowing many spoilers at all, I think it’s really one of the best viewing experiences of my life.
I decided on Lost because a friend of mine and I had a really wonderful time watching The Sopranos together in 2018. That happened during a rough time in our lives, and so because we both really wanted to watch a very immersive show right now during this weird time, my friend suggested Lost. It felt really amazing to know there were over 100 episodes of the show and 6 seasons.
My friend is about a decade older and watched Lost while it was on air, but didn’t remember much, so it was fantastic for us to react to things together. Another one of our friends joined us too, and we kept calling it “going to the island” or “island time.” They actually both finished the series way faster than I did, which is surprising because between the three of us I’m the one with no life.
As I write this, I’m nearing the end of season 5, and I’m already panicking because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do when it’s over. I love my island friends!!!
You are socially isolating, and having really intense feelings about Sawyer, feelings which you have characterized to me as “not really sexual in nature” so — I ask — given that you and Sawyer (you now, Sawyer at the time of filming) are both attractive young people in the prime of your lives, what, if they are not exactly sexual, do these feelings entail?
Ok well, first of all — thank you for calling me attractive. My feelings for Sawyer and the men on Lost are so complicated, I’ll try and explain it as best as I can…
One thing I learned pretty quickly about Lost is that it’s a show full of hot people. So many hot people were on that Oceanic flight, it’s kind of insane. And they all found clothes that kept them good-looking. Lots of low-rise fitted jeans for the ladies. I can’t imagine being on a flight with that many hot people, but I guess it makes sense because they’re going to LA. But even for as many truly attractive people appear on Lost, it’s really not a sexy show at all. Like, there’s just no sexual vibe even when they try to go there, which is what makes the show amazing. That would NEVER happen now. Lost would be super raunchy if it existed right now.
I am very attracted to Sawyer right now, but when I think about all the handsome men on Lost, I’m thinking about being stuck on that mysterious island and who I’d be drawn to and who I’d want to like…take care of me? Unfortunately, at this point in my viewing that person is Sawyer. I feel like he would care for me.
As many know, he starts off pretty rotten and selfish. He has derogatory nicknames for everyone, and if he voted (no way he actually does, even though it’s touched on in one episode) he’d probably be a Republican. That being said, he shows the most growth throughout the series and is the only person who thus far becomes a FAR BETTER version of themselves on the island. I guess what I’m saying is that I think of Sawyer the way Claire thinks of Charlie, just like someone to be there for me? Take care of my baby???
You tweeted about people on Lost swimming in jeans. I remember this, but can’t bring myself to go back and look. Could you remind me/us what this phenomenon is like?
Sawyer swims in jeans the most. And it’s not even always in an emergency. In one particularly weird scene where the show tried to be sexy, he is at a waterfall with Kate, and he takes off his shirt and jumps into the water wearing his jeans. It’s just so insane to me.
There’s so much jumping into the ocean in the show, and very often people just go in with jeans. I would 100% die if I swam in jeans. I would just die, even if I was in a pool. I’m not a strong swimmer (I am afraid of water) but like….just take your pants off? It makes so much more sense. You’re already taking off clothes. You NEVER see a man swimming without pants on Lost, but the women are basically fully stripped down (and hairless).
Have you gotten to the point where Sawyer wears glasses? What do you think?
YES! That was early on in the series. Sawyer loves to read, which is so sweet. He one day gets headaches and Jack realizes Sawyer needs reading glasses. I guess he didn’t know he needed them in the regular world because he was too busy being a criminal. But I love when he gets them, it’s so endearing. Later on in the series he loses them and we don’t see him reading as much.
You tweeted about Sawyer’s racist nicknames, how they would probably not be possible today. How do you think, given that it is 2021, and he probably couldn’t use those nicknames on television, thought ironically it seems like he’d have even more leeway to use them irl, Sawyer might express his aversion to/being above “PC culture”?
My friend and I have a joke that Lost takes place in a pre-post-racial society. I think right now, yes, if we are thinking of Sawyer in real life, which is kind of what we are doing, Sawyer wouldn’t be stopped from using those nicknames. Like, he probably doesn’t know what PC culture is….and I’m guessing if some woke passenger went off on him he’d be like, “Ok Rosa” (this person in my mind is black and he is calling them Rosa Parks). I think he would just still go for it, because it’s not like even when he’s saying those nicknames they weren’t racist then. He frequently was racist towards Sayid at first, I’m pretty sure he called him Mohammed. I know I shouldn’t find his nicknames funny, but I do. They’re really clever!
I think if the show were to exist today, it would try and find some really heavy handed way to deal with Sawyer’s non-PC way of speaking. In the show now, there’s an episode where they get a ping pong table and because Sawyer lost a match he had to not use nicknames for a whole week (this is also around the time we see Sawyer becoming more of a team player). I think if that happened now, they’d probably get some POC character to give Sawyer a real corny internet speak takedown, and make it like a THING. Then it would become like a viral clip that Netflix’s Strong Black Lead account would tweet or something and framed as an EPIC CLAPBACK.
Write a short essay comparing and contrasting Sawyer and Jack. Tell us which one you think you could count on in an emergency. Be sure to back up your arguments with examples from the text, aka, Lost.
I HATE Jack. First of all, he’s the leader because he’s a doctor? So what?
Jack is really obsessed with doing the right thing, and that he is the person to execute whatever is correct that he doesn’t end up always getting it right. I feel like I can draw from some examples, but honestly it’s just constant. He has so much guilt for various things, it’s like he’s always trying to make things right. That clouds his judgement in a big way, and so I wouldn’t be able to rely on him.
Sawyer, on the other hand, is a broken man in a very different way. He’s been betrayed and hurt, but instead of trying to make up for it he really has this outlook on life where he only really cares about himself. That changes as the show progresses, and you see he’s really willing to make sacrifices and be fully selfless in a way Jack is not. There’s a scene where a helicopter is too heavy, and there’s a fuel leak and he literally JUMPS out of the helicopter so that his friends can possibly get saved. Jack was on that same helicopter…you think he even thought about jumping? NO!
So, you’re at home watching Lost. What time of day is it? Snacks? Are you doing other stuff at the same time or really concentrating? Blankets? Couch? Pillow? Bed?
I watch Lost whenever the mood strikes. Sometimes I will watch a few episodes in a row, other times I go days without watching it (usually because I’m busy or just can’t focus on it the way I want to).
I’m usually concentrating pretty hard at this point in the series, mostly because it’s getting pretty wild. All the time traveling and shit! WILD! If I look at my phone it’s because I’m tweeting about it or reading a detail about the episode. During the beginning of the series, there were a lot of flashbacks with backstories I didn’t care THAT much about and so I’d do a crossword or something if it was getting a bit boring.
I only ever watch Lost on my television. I have tried to watch it on my computer, but it ruins the experience. I am usually just laying on my couch and fully transported to the island. I really try and savor the experience, sometimes my entire day revolves around the moment I get to go to the island. The island is a very motivating force in my life.
I saw recently that you were wrestling with a very annoying payment portal for a website. I am pretty sure I know which one it is. Can you write a little bit of dialogue imagining Sawyer wresting with this payment portal?
Oh my God….I love this question so much but I honestly can’t do Sawyer justice. But I imagine him talking to the helpdesk person I am speaking with right now who literally does not understand what I’m talking about. I imagine he would find a derogatory/perverted nickname for her. If I was summoning my inner Sawyer, I would absolutely have threatened this company by now. I would have done something instead of being like, “Hey!!! I can’t input this information hehehe can you please help me? If you have the time? No worries if not, it’s only two thousand dollars!!! I don’t need it to pay my rent or bills!” Which is what I’m currently doing because I’m a coward.
I think he’d call her “Useless Phone Lady” like “Look here, Useless Phone Lady.”
LMFAO. Yes. He always says, “Look here” and also I think deep in his mind, he would find some pop culture reference of someone who is bad at their job, or on the phone? Maybe, “Look here OFFICE SPACE.” Kind of like how he calls Jin “Chewie” because he can’t speak English…Like Chewbacca?
You have said you change your favorite character on the show pretty regularly. Who are some of these other favorites and what did they do that made you interested in them/eclipse Sawyer?
Oh yeah, I’m constantly cycling between who I love the most. It really fluctuates. I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible based on what I’m watching right now:
I always hate Jack. I feel nothing for him. I also started off hating Kate, but grew to love her because she’s so sad and alone in life, and she has a lot of integrity.
Jin is the hottest man on that show, period! So he is always a favorite. I was turned off by how he’s kind of a dick with Sun at first, but once they got over that together I truly was taken by him. He can beat people up, he knows how to fish, he’s so well-rounded. The only reason why I don’t think about him the way I do Sawyer, is because he’s married — he can’t take care of me on the island. He has Sun to take care of.
I love Hurley, because he’s really kind and has the best attitude out of anyone on the show. But I get so upset when people are fatphobic towards him, like they treat him being fat as something as harmful as Charlie’s drug abuse, it felt like. In one episode, this bitch Libby makes him throw away all the ranch dressing he was hoarding which is INSANE to me. You’re on an ISLAND where everyone’s dying, let the man do what he wants.
I think Desmond is one of my favorites as well, only because he enters the show in season 2, and somehow becomes a character that you end up caring SO much about. He has some of the best episodes in the whole series so far.
I fluctuate between loving John Locke and being kind of grossed out by him because of his major incel vibes. Also, he’s just too obsessed with teaching people lessons, but he does prove to be really useful and has dealt with quite a lot.
Lost came out in 2004 — what were you watching on television in 2004? Do you have any memories of it as a teenager?
In 2004, I was 13 years old. I actually do remember watching the pilot with my older siblings, who watched much of the first couple of seasons. I remembered some plot points, but not many. My older sisters LOVED “Alias,” so we were watching a lot of that.
I feel like in 2004, I was watching American Idol (season 3), which I LOVED. It was the season when William Hung sang “She Bangs” which looking back now, it’s insane that was even remarkable. The world has gotten so much worse since then. I loved seasons 2 and 3 of American Idol because it was really like, PEAK American patriotism post 9/11 and when the Iraq War began. We’d just watch it all together like, what is going on in America? They had so many patriotic songs. I remember distinctly one season, they all sang that “Proud to Be an American” song, which I still know the words to from just watching that episode so many times.