Throwing Occam's razor

This is a post from my old blog, written in 2008. I'm posting it again because I recently saw a play in which somebody had clearly gone to great efforts to rationalize a very unsatisfying story ending in a highly intellectual way, and it didn't make the story ending any less unsatisfying, nor any less essentially lazy. Also, some months after I posted this, I read an interview with one of the Lost writers, in which he parroted the New York Times article almost word-for-word--you could practically see the thought process: "Thank God! Someone's come up with a plausible-sounding excuse!"

Here's the post:

Ah, yes, the New York Times has this long article about how the television show Lost makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. (I stopped watching about halfway through the first season for this very reason, even though the show had some very fine individual episodes.)

And there's all this philosophical rigmarole about how the show rejects the very notion of resolution. So the incoherence isn't really incoherence: the show is sooo deep it goes beyond coherence; it's coherent on a level that you and I and everyone else who has ever watched it cannot possibly grasp, just like real life! Oh, please. Sometimes you'll hear this kind of thing trotted out when something has a really unsatisfying ending--real life doesn't tie up neatly, so why should fiction?

Let me let you in on a little secret: It's hard to write something coherent. It's also hard to create a really satisfying ending. Whenever anyone starts telling you that real life BLAH BLAH BLAH, what they are really saying is, This is hard, and I am lazy. The writers of Lost cash equally large paychecks whether the show makes any sense or not--why should they do it the hard way?