Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Last Man on Earth

Man, falling in love is hard. No matter how minimalist someone acts, there are a hundred things that are required for them to open up, relax, and truly let a good thirty-minute comedy into their hearts. Community did that for me and in a move bolder than my character implies, I took the chance on Last Man On Earth.

Will Forte was a big help. I loved him on SNL and...yeah, okay, just SNL, but her was really, really good on it. I wanted to see more on him (just shy of watching MacGruber). I mean, he's another white guy at the center of a network show, but he can do the work.

The trailers were a series of him enjoying the post-apocalypse: shooting out doors, destroying things with other, heavier things, making a margarita pool. You know it won't stand, like eating cookie dough for dinner, it can only last for two, three weeks tops before you can't take it anymore. The premise can't make the show go the distance, but it's right there in the title.

Spoilers: The contradiction is resolved within the first two episodes; Kristen Schaal is alive. Each character has adapted to 18 months of isolation in different ways. He's thrown the rules out entirely and she's come to cling to them absolutely. They don't get along, then they get along, and everyone learns a valuable lesson.

It's a fun ride, but like the Forte and Schaal, I'm not in love. It's the concept that hooked me, or rather the impossibility of the concept. Will their marriage--born of both her desire for a traditional, picture-perfect marriage against the backdrop of a horrific life and his desire to get laid—come to represent all TV marriage, with their begrudging, forced partnership engendering bitterness and a closeness that's only used to hurt one another? Will she meet a hilarious, but sanitary, demise and allow another woman to conspicuously fill the space, starting a revolving door of easily-replaced female guest stars? The small scope of the show means that anyone could die off, as long as one man—or the promise of one man--remains, right? Are aliens non-male? If we accept that central character Phil might actually be hallucinating, what is real?

Watching them clear that hurdle, like Phineas and Ferb, is going to get me there. If The Last Man on Earth can balance the humor and pathos as well as it did in the first two episodes, I think I'll stick around.

The first two episodes are on Hulu if you're interested.


SkilTao said...

Saw this when it aired, not at all surprised that they added a second character only 17 minutes in. They'd almost lost me by that point though.

Saio Kaas said...

Yeah, I think the viewer's ability to enjoy Phil's shenanigans reflects his ability to derive joy from them. It just tapers off.

Of course, the show after that involves Kristen Schaal, about whom I have mixed feelings, so it's a real Scylla/Charybdis thing.