Welcome to His Unreality

Hit network shows aren't supposed to be weird or complicated. But for J.J. Abrams, the creator of Alias and Lost, the brainy popcorn is paying off

There needed to??be??a??monster. That, in a nutshell, was what J.J. Abrams and his co-creator, Damon Lindelof, decided soon after Lloyd Braun, then ABC's entertainment chairman, gave them this assignment: Write a show about plane-crash castaways on a desert island. The parallel to a certain CBS series was obvious. If Survivor was Gilligan's Island with real people, Lost would be Survivor with fake people. But Abrams, who had raised the spy serial to new heights of cliff-hanging absurdity with Alias, knew that the series would need something extra, something weird, to sustain the audience's interest and his own.

So Abrams and his...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!