Justin Theroux Justin Theroux

Go ahead and compare HBO's new drama The Leftovers to LostJust go on and get it out of you system.

On the surface, the two shows undoubtedly share some DNA. Both were co-created by Damon Lindelof. Both explore the struggle between science and faith. And both feature a large cast of characters trying to move on from a life-altering event. But the thing that sets the two shows apart is crucial: While Lost was derided by many for the answers it provided to the show's once-celebrated head-scratchers, The Leftovers has absolutely zero interest in explaining its central mystery.

Summer TV: Check out all the must-see new shows

Will Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers be the new Lost?

But not everyone is satisfied not looking for answers —or at least some sense of meaning  — in this new world. Kevin's son Tom (Chris Zylka) becomes a follower of Holy Wayne (Patterson Joseph), a man who claims he can take away pain by hugging people. Rev. Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), a man of God, begins a crusade to prove the event was not The Rapture because of all the bad people who also disappeared. 

Then there's a large group of others, including Amy Brenneman's Laurie, who have joined the Guilty Remnant, a cult of silent, all white-wearing people who smoke cigarettes and creepily recruit other townsfolk, including Liv Tyler's Meg. "The people in the Guilty Remnant are saying, 'We're separating ourselves from human connection because the Sudden Departure has revealed that to be an impossible thing. In a world where anyone can disappear at any moment, there's just no sense in being connected,'" Perotta says.

Summer Preview: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows

But Perrotta doesn't necessarily think the show's grim tone will be a barrier to entry for viewing audiences. "I almost question the premise of that criticism that there's such a thing as too dark," he says. "I've been watching The Walking Dead for years and that show is incredibly dark week after week, and yet people keep coming back for more. That has zombies and more genre satisfaction, so it won't be as easy for us to find that loyal audience. It is a challenge for us that we're trying to tell a post-apocalyptic story that is also a realistic, small-town story. But there's nothing quite like it, which to me is what makes it exciting."

Despite the supernatural premise at the center of the show, the realism of the story is of utmost importance to Perrotta. Even though there's the afore-mentioned hug-healer and a guy named Dean (Michael Gaston), who goes around shooting dogs and who may or may not be a figment of Kevin's imagination, Perrotta stresses that this show very much takes place in a grounded universe. 

Read Matt Roush's review of The Leftovers