THE LAST MAN ON EARTH Midseason Two Review


THE LAST MAN ON EARTH took a risk expanding past its title’s inherent premise, but it turned into something quite surprising and hilarious regardless. Sure, who wouldn’t watch Will Forte anarchically destroy his environment and talk to sports balls with faces drawn on them for multiple seasons? Yet, introducing others in this post-apocalyptic sitcom actually heightened the show’s semi-anthropological outlook on survival and humanity. Making it more of an ensemble comedy, Will Forte still serves as a perfect wild card in an otherwise potential society, to entertaining and cringe worthy ends. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, in the middle of its second season, manages to raise lots of questions, throwing wrinkles into a plot full of endless potential.

LAST MAN’s showrunners have been successful so far in avoiding complete aimlessness. In the midst of season two, they’ve set up quite a lot of dominos just begging to be knocked over. It’s like the show is constantly on a tightrope that gets thinner and thinner as it goes. The promising aspect is that so far they’ve pulled it off gracefully, with some damn good laughs along the way. The cast of characters past Will Forte’s Phil Miller, or Tandy, has become a nice sitcom family that can at once be genuine and human while also being comprised of specific, individual weirdos. Kristen Schaal, Mel Rodriguez, Mary Steenburgen, Boris Kodjoe, Cleopatra Coleman, and January Jones all managed to settle into interesting, if not satisfyingly lived-in, roles. With the exception of Schaal and maybe Rodriguez, they still play support, like bowling pins just waiting to be knocked over by Tandy. A specific development in Tandy’s attitude actually makes this much more interesting to watch as opposed to easily tiring.

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You’d be surprised by the amount of sexual tension at play here (it’s a lot)

Will Forte has always been a strange comedy anomaly, blurring the lines between mainstream and alt/anti-humor. Recently, he’s tried his hand at drama and done quite well in films like NEBRASKA and LIFE OF CRIME. Season one of LAST MAN found him being the most despicably stupid character he could possibly be, flinging himself through life with insensitively reckless and selfish abandon. It was like watching a rabid animal running amuck in an animal sanctuary. Season two made a key switch in having Tandy try to become a good person in a thorough and recurring arc developed in every episode. What’s admirable is that the writers haven’t made it an easy process. Tandy tries very hard and sometimes fails very hard. But you can see him actively fight back against his urges of being selfish. As stupid as it can come off, it seems to be completely genuine thanks to Forte’s manic but impressionable performance. It’s thrilling with a certain character study edge to it.

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Justice in the post-apocalypse is swift and brutal

The show’s cleverness and intelligence is displayed with subtle but strange sprouting morality plays. Without specific knowledge of what happened to the world and most of its population, the audience is given clues and ideas as to the current state of things. This season especially challenges the characters and their needs for survival, such as food and gas expiring, figuring out energy needs, and how to deal with serious medical issues. In addition, human selfishness and emotional tendencies absolutely do throw wrenches into things. The show raises questions and answers them quickly with strange but valid scenarios, and the characters at hand sometimes truly don’t know how to handle things. It’s like scripted Survivor, yet somehow more genuine.

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Guns in the apocalypse: a common household tool

One of the most interesting things in season two comes in a subplot starring Jason Sudeikis. Spoilers aside, he’s simply a man struggling with survival and his own sanity. Sudeikis is fantastic in the role, carrying some genuine pain in his eyes. The show left him in limbo in terms of survival, and so far there seems to be more hope for whatever results to be even more engaging and fascinating. The same goes for the main show, left on a cliffhanger. Not only has LAST MAN exceeded the quality of its premise, but it constantly one-ups itself into more dangerous heights without flubbing its stance too badly, or at all.

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Sandra Bullock lookin’ good for GRAVITY 2

The show is written and created by Will Forte with executive producing and occasional directing help from power duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Everything those two have touched cinematically has been nothing short of golden, the quality seeming to track to their television work as well (this has been the case since their cult animated show CLONE HIGH – everyone seek it out.) THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is no exception. It has a lot riding for it and it’s all well-earned. The biggest hope is that Will Forte and gang don’t pull a LOST on us and write checks they can’t cash. Based on their work so far, I don’t think it’s too much of a worry.

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH’s second season will continue March 6th, 2016, Sundays at 9:30 PM on FOX.

Rocky Pajarito is a Crossfader guest contributor, writer, pop-culture enthusiast, and filmmaker based in Orange County, CA. He will try, and fail, in bringing up the film MACGRUBER in every single thing he writes.

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