Warning: Mild spoilers follow for the current and past seasons of The Last Man On Earth, but you can read this without really compromising your future enjoyment of the show.
I’ve been doing lots of TV show write-ups lately, but since most shows are ending or have ended in the past and next month, it serves as a good point to write about them. However, one show that has delightfully twisted in the wind in various surprising ways is The Last Man on Earth. While it abandoned its premise a bit too quickly for me, the show has managed to continually change things up on the fly in interesting ways.
The premise of the show seems somewhat obvious from the title, although as I mention in the opening paragraph, it’s unfortunately a mechanic that they abandon after just one episode. At that point, lead character Phil “Tandy” Miller (Will Forte) runs into Carol (Kristen Schaal), and some normalcy is restored, since for the previous 22 minutes we saw Phil basically destroying priceless artifacts and getting drunk all the time.
I think they could have done a few episodes with Solo Phil, exploring some of the ludicrous aspects of solo living, but I imagine it’s a concept that would have gotten tough to plot out for too long. Also, a strength of the show is its ability to radically change-up its elements, sometimes even from the start to the end of the episode.
The show starts with the weird Solo Phil adventures, but the introduction of Carol turns it more into a pessimistic rom-com, since she and Phil predictably clash. From there, the third survivor turns out to be January Jones, and it predictably frustrates Phil that prior to her arrival, he married Carol.
From there, new characters are introduced, but the show does its best to tweak your expectations. The kind of fat dude? A complete lady’s man who immediately wins over January Jones (and later, Mrs. Ted Danson and Attractive Aussie Newcomer). There might be only a dozen people left after a plague wipes out the world, but one of them also happens to be named Phil Miller… Except that he’s this guy, who also happens to have engineering skills.
And oh yeah, Will Ferrell shows up in one episode, for about 60 seconds, and it’s incredible.
The vibe of Last Man on Earth isn’t always perfect, as there is plenty of awkward “humor” mixed with actual dramatic scenes, like when the gang has to deal with death. (And this happens frequently.) But the show is always near the top of my weekly queue, because it does keep me guessing. The absolutely mundane aspects of being the last people on Earth are so wonderfully compelling.
The show just finished up its second season, so it’s relatively easy to play catch-up if you’re so inclined. It’s on FOX, so you can see the ole reruns on Hulu.