The Last Man on Earth (Season One)
Over the holiday break I opted to binge-watch The Last Man on Earth starring Will Forte and Kristen Schaal. I was hesitant to watch the show because, well to be honest, I thought it was going to be awful. I was so completely wrong. While the show starts out with stereotypical, or archetypal, characters they do develop into their own as episodes progress. We struggle throughout the first season with our hatred of Phil Tandy Miller (Forte) and I’m sure some found Carol Pilbasian (Schaal) to be irritation-inducing with her ever-quirky, peppy personality.
Slowly throughout the first season we see the arrival of a few more “last people”. They bring their own baggage, needs, and personalities but with their arrival so too comes the ability to relate to a character. After becoming acquainted with Phil and Carol I was certain any new person was going to be an obnoxious extreme as well. Again, I was wrong. The additions provided more opportunities to explore the personalities of our two primary characters. They arrived a little more rounded-out than Phil and Carol which helped maintain an engagement with the storyline. We could see real development with each of the character’s as they began to mingle and fight and date. The additional characters also broke stereotypes as we generally see them on television. The “hot chick” declares she values her friendship above a relationship with “The only thing I’m horny for is your friendship.” And the “not-so-hot guy” turns out to be a ladies man, and more.
There’s something really charming about watching a show set in the near future after a virus has swept the planet and watching people just like us try to navigate survival. What do we know about plumbing, irrigation, or gardening? Some of us surely do, but when hardly anyone survives, the odds aren’t favorable towards survival in a technology-driven age. What does one man, or one woman do, when faced with the idea that they might have to repopulate the planet with someone they despise and how do you make that work? And then how do you react when you realize there’s another option, do you want to sequester your option or let it roam freely? The exploration of our survival instincts, death and life, remains humorous, if at times surprising.
I really appreciate the attempt to showcase “both sides”. In the early stages of the season we see Phil outnumbered by women. He’s so stoked that he HAS to repopulate with multiple women that he thinks he’s won the lottery. He’s a little sleazy but he feels it is justified because one, the other women are attractive, and two, he’s the last man so “Our babies need other babies to have sex with. That’s just parenting 101!”. With the arrival of new men however, the women pick up those same behaviors in an effort to impress the one they find attractive, smart, and a viable father to humanity.
There are so many great quotes too! I can’t refrain from including this one from Carol, “You look smaller, weaker” she says to Phil after he shaves his unruly beard.
This is a great show so far and I look forward to binge-watching the next season and a half. The use of immediate foreshadowing leaves me laughing and is somehow still unexpected - which is perhaps the best way I can define this show. It'll leave you laughing, it's unexpected, and you'll end up finding a character you really vibe with. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for January Jones, Mary Steenburgen, Cleopatra Coleman, Mel Rodriguez, Boris Kodjoe, and Jason Sudeikis.