Lifetime’s The Lottery, which should be one of the most frightening shows on television, appears to be losing viewers as interest wanes. The premise of the series, based on worldwide infertility in the year 2025, seems to have missed the mark with audiences. It is interesting to wonder just why this one, out of all the other “summer replacement” shows out there has done so badly.
It has at least one “big” name in star Marley Shelton, but her part in the show has diminished rapidly as the season has progressed. Arguably, it could be that Shelton is not a household name despite her move up the chain in terms of film credits. The actor is more than capable in terms of performance and it may well be that the lack of screen time afforded her character is a contributing factor.
In episode six, Sleep Deprived the prospective mothers in the lottery are being watched by the country, by all those whose names did not get picked. In a sort of Big Brother format, the hopefuls are being watched while they do all the “trials” given them.
One hopeful, Perry Sommers says, “I thought this would be fun, not San Quentin.” She is, thus far, the only lottery participant who is “bucking the trend” and trying to maintain her individuality. The president’s wife has been impressed with her stubborn streak, but doesn’t realise that it has more to do with the hopeful’s selfish tendencies than any other more “noble” reasons.
The character of Perry Sommers may just be indicative of why The Lottery is losing interest with its audience. The bartender who applied to be a prospective mom to get out of her mundane life, is not likeable. Earlier, when she explained how desperate she was to get out of small town America and her dead end existence, empathy values were quite high for this character.
Later, after learning more about Perry, it is obvious that this shallow girl is not really interested in being the saviour of humanity by bearing one of the first children in years. She is not likeable and self centered and that is not just a problem with Sommers, but most of the characters.
Despite having one of the more terrifying scenarios of an evil government all too ready and able to step in and murder innocent citizens in order to gain control of the fertilized eggs, the interest by viewers has dropped and viewing figures have never matched that strong open of over 1 million.
Perhaps the real reason has to do with the shallowness of the characters in the show. All the main players are too concerned with what they want, with what affects them and they react accordingly. Marley Shelton’s character, while not being as shallow as the rest, is still an enigma. The good doctor who fertilized the eggs is still a shadow in terms of what drives her.
The White House Chief of Staff, played by Athena Karkanis, fights for the lottery because it is her idea and to spite the show’s “big bad” Darius Hayes rather than any other noble reason. In fact, the show’s villain, Hayes, has mankind’s extinction in mind right along with the idea that the government should control it all, but he too, is a shadow figure.
Kyle Walker, the man who loses his son and was one of the fathers whose sperm fertilized at least one egg, is the lone character who is more concerned with someone else’s well being than his own. Even he, admittedly, was too selfish about his son to let the boy’s mother have anything to do with him.
Even the peripheral characters, like Ernie Hudson’s character, the grieving father of Nathan Mitchell (the diplomat played by J. August Richards) were more concerned with their self perceived versions of the truth than reality. When learning that his son “died a hero” he stops his demands for an external investigation of what really happened.
Sadly, it appears that The Lottery is losing interest with its audience. Whether this is down to the average person having trouble dealing with the extinction of mankind through infertility, or the shallowness of the main characters, it seems likely that this series will not make it to a second season. Which is a shame.
By Michael Smith