Lost Fans: Is Michael's Plotline a Racial Issue?

Lost Fans: Is Michael's Plotline a Racial Issue?

Since I know some of you may not have watched the season finale of Lost (or this season of Lost in general, perhaps), I'm going to start this discussion about Michael's story arc after the jump.

To see why Harold Perrineau (who plays Michael on the show) called his plotline "disappointing" and tell me if you agree or disagree, read more.

If you've seen the season finale of Lost, you know that Michael appears (since things are rarely as they seem on this show) to meet his untimely demise when the boat explodes, with Michael and Jin still on it. Perrineau recently told Entertainment Weekly why he's "disappointed" — but "not bitter" — about Michael's death and how it's handled on the show. Here are some highlights from the EW interview:

  • Perrineau: I thought it was really significant when Michael dropped those people off with the Others; I thought he was going to have something just as significant when he came back. I was disappointed that he didn’t. He didn’t get to make amends with those people.
  • EW: You were quoted as saying that the loss of Michael meant that Walt "winds up being another fatherless child, [and] it plays into a really big, weird stereotype." Did you voice that concern to the producers?
    Perrineau: There’s not been any conversation about that. That was just my point of view in an interview. This is nothing that I’ve ever talked to the writers about, or I think is necessarily anything I should talk to them about. Their job is to make the story work. My feelings about the social implications are my feelings.
  • Perrineau: It's just an observation. Michael's a black character and I’m a black person, so I have feelings based on it. I can’t really separate those two things — my race and my country and all that stuff. . . . I accept that this is what [the producers] need to happen for something else to happen later.
  • EW: If you had known that this was going to be the story line, would you have come back?
    Perrineau: If I had known, I think I would have asked if I could have a conversation about it. . . They are brilliant guys. They have a fantastic show. The show’s been great since we’ve been on it; it’s going to be great when I’m not on it. They know exactly what they’re doing, so I don’t question that.
  • EW: How would you have liked Michael’s story to have played out?
    Perrineau: I didn't think he got to redeem himself especially to the people who I feel like he wronged. I wanted Michael to go back and do something for them so that they felt like he really put out and that he did something to satisfy his own guilt and their anger. . . I wish Michael would have gotten to be the father that he had always wanted to be, because he’s a good dude.

This seems like a totally valid observation to me, and Perrineau is voicing it in a very careful manner. I'm not convinced that this is a racial issue, though as he points out, it's hard for him to not see it in that light. What do you think? Were the writers irresponsible for not considering these points before writing Michael's story?

And in other news about Perrineau, he will apparently stay within the ABC family as he has been cast in one of the network's pilots, The Unusuals, a dramedy set in an NYC police precinct.

Photo copyright 2008 ABC, Inc.


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