This piece comes to you from Awards Daily reader Jeff LeBlanc.
Every now and then, a TV series hits the airwaves that defies description. In many ways this makes a series exciting and unique. Unfortunately, it also means that it’s harder for the show to become a word of mouth hit. This is particularly unfortunate when such a show holds the potential to appeal to many viewers, if only they knew about it. Jim Gavin’s Lodge 49 is one of those shows.
Lodge 49 has been described as a modern fable set in Long Beach, California, about a charmingly optimistic local ex-surfer, Dud, who’s drifting after the death of his father and collapse of the family business. During the first season, Dud joins a fraternal order known as the Order of the Lynx, hoping the Lodge can put him “on the path to recover the idyllic life he’s lost.” The cast is led by Wyatt Russell who plays Dud with an effortless charm and sense of humor. Dud reminds me of what The Dude from The Big Lebowski might have been like in his younger years. The series follows Dud as he tries to gain a purpose and, in some ways, find a family. Dud has a quiet sadness about him, largely because he is still recovering from the death of his Dad. When he discovers the mysterious Lodge his adventure really begins.
Personally, I find the demise of Lodge 49 particularly sad. To me Dud is one of the most honest and true representations of the millennial generation on television. Sure, at times he may seem lazy, but he is also a good guy. He has good intentions and really is just looking for that thing that makes life worth it. If that doesn’t sum up the millennial generation, I’m not sure what does. Like so many of us, Dud feels lost and somewhat confused, but he wants to find a purpose. His expectations aren’t grand. He isn’t necessarily reaching for the stars but that’s ok. It’s ok to be average, which is another strong message of the show.
Though Lodge 49 does have a dash of mystery and supernatural, it takes great pleasure in everyday life. A fair amount of episode time is spent with salt of the earth folks that wait all day to spend some time with their friends in the lodge. The unique set of characters that wade in and out of the show are mostly everyday people. Naturally there are some exceptions, namely an interesting CEO and an unwieldy author (played by producer Paul Giamatti). Few shows dedicate as much time to the “average” as Lodge 49 does. Yet there is also a tremendous amount of mystery and story building. Terrific performances can be found by Linda Emond, Davis Pasquesi, Eric Allan Kramer, Kenneth Welsh, Olivia Sandoval and other strong actors.
The show rises to greatness when it explores Dud’s relationships with two individuals. Dud’s twin sister Liz, played perfectly by Sonya Cassidy, is a pleasure to watch. Liz and Dud have a relationship unlike many siblings on TV. Liz is one of the most interesting characters I have seen on television in some time. As a waitress with crushing debt, she represents many individuals. The siblings share a touching relationship. They they share similar goals but take wildly different paths.
Dud also has a fascinating relationship with his Lodge friend Ernie, played flawlessly by the great Brent Jennings. Together Dud and Ernie have a sort of father/son relationship. Their relationship often is played for laughs however some truly terrific moments come from their dynamic. In a time when older generations are struggling to find common ground with young people, this relationship is proof that we all have more in common than we think. Dud and Ernie even help close the millennial-boomer divide! Ernie also has an interesting love story that seems all too rare on television today.
Lodge 49 pokes fun at all of its characters yet it doesn’t demean them. I grew to love this group of oddball everyday people.
AMC cancelled the show after 2 seasons and a total of 20 episodes. I understand why they made this decision. The series was low rated. However, I would love to see another network, or one of the 4,000 streaming services pick up Lodge 49. This show could easily connect with millennial and other viewers if they could find it. Lodge 49 is a blend of The Big Lebowski and hang out sitcoms with a touch of the surrealness of Twin Peaks.
I urge viewers to check this gem of a series out and spread the word!