192 total views, 8 views today
Y: The Last Man Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Y: The Last Man, FX on Hulu’s new series based on the comics by Brian K. Vaughan (Runaways, Lost) and Pia Guerra, carries a dark and intriguing premise, as well as a handful of promising thematic elements, but, in its first three episodes, fails to fully resonate from an emotional standpoint. The story is effective in giving us a horrific landscape filled with incalculable death and despair, but its attempt to focus on almost every aspect of this specific apocalypse spreads the story too thin at points.
Though Vaughan and Guerra’s acclaimed books only came out in the aughts, the long road to get Y: The Last Man to the screen has hindered and hamstrung the project a bit. In the past two decades, we’ve become inundated with dystopian dramas, some of which have become massive hits. Y: The Last Man has many unique parts that help it stand out, but there’s still an overall sameness that slightly sinks it, as there are scenes that directly remind one of things like The Walking Dead, HBO’s The Leftovers, or even the grimmest aspects of Avengers: Endgame.
What helped those aforementioned projects soar, specifically, was their ability to focus on one particular aspect of a ravaged, culled future, while Y: The Last Man stumbles in combining the personal with the political. After three episodes, the series leans heavily on the governing aspects of the apocalypse in ways that feel like a frustrating reminder that after a world-changing catastrophe, we’ll still have to deal with Election Year-style divisiveness as well as abhorrent bigotry and idiocy. Sure, it’s true that the past few years have hammered home the fact that, in real life, massive disasters absolutely do not mean we’ll all pull together, but Y: The Last Man takes that lesson and lassos it in a manner that makes the saga feel sporadically boring.
Starring Diane Lane, Amber Tamblyn, Ashley Romans, Olivia Thirlby, Marin Ireland, and Ben Schnetzer (as the titular last man, Y), the series brings us into a present day world that mirrors most of our own until it’s hit by mysterious airborne plague that violently wipes out every living creature with a Y chromosome. So, this very targeted Thanos snap leaves the world only populated by women and trans men, with 4 billion lives lost and all countries thrown into violent madness and desperation. Somehow, in this ravaging, two males are spared: a somewhat insufferable magician — sorry, Gob, “escape artist” — named Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. Complicating things further is the fact that he’s the son of line-of-succession American president Jennifer Brown (Lane), who’s been accused by the some of the leftover people of the nation of manufacturing the virus, who’s been accused by the some of the leftover factions of the nation of manufacturing the virus.
The immediate fascinating and elevating difference here, which separates Y: The Last Man from other dystopian rabble, is that this is a mostly female ensemble that directly tackles the idea of a world with no men and how things might both differ and remain the same. Of course, the world these women are forced to take the reins on is one in utter devastation and crisis, so an argument can be made that gender doesn’t matter in a hellscape. Still, it is jarring to see, say, an all-female riot or hear of a militia taking hostages somewhere knowing that it’s unhinged women with guns. In that regard, Y: The Last Man shows us a form of pioneering pandemonium.
The other grand ingredient here is that the “last man on Earth” is kind if a loser, not just in cliched career ways, but spiritually. Yorick is the slacker uncle or bathrobe’d older brother who won’t get a job, but also won’t exert any meaningful effort on what he claims to be his real passion. He wants to dote on someone and ride coattails while having his days free. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this “remarkably un-special man made the most special person on the planet” theme carries forward after the first three chapters. At this point in the story, he’s whiny precious cargo, a class-clown secret whom the president, while she tries to stop every metaphoric dam in America from breaking, must now consider both a weapon and a weakness. Hopefully, within the arc of this season, and series overall, Yorick’s journey is one of both redemption and realization, because right now, the juxtaposition of his tone and attitude with his mother’s crushing duties as leader is almost comical.
Lane is great as President Brown, and Tamblyn is perfect as the plaguing pest in Brown’s nest (the former president’s alt-right daughter), but it’s Romans (NOS4A2, and Hermione in fan-made webseries Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis) who really pops in these first three episodes. As Agent 355, or “Sarah,” Romans is able to cut through most of the absolute bulls*** that the other characters run up against. She’s an infiltrator and “wetwork” specialist, who happens to have been placed near the president on the ill-fated day when the virus landed. Now acting as Brown’s left-hand and Yorick’s brutal minder, 355’s ability to shirk and shun games, and remain mostly emotionless, is a breath of fresh air on the series. The third episode even ends with a very impactful moment centered around 355 and her direct methods, making for the most memorable part of the series so far.
“The Day Before” utilizes pilot playbook effectively (even dipping its toe in the now-tired “in media res” opening), introducing us to all the principal characters — including Dredd’s Thirlby as Yorick’s in-recovery paramedic sister, Hero, and Umbrella Academy’s Ireland as a career mom in the orbit of men who smile and don’t pull their weight — while follow-up “Would the World Be Kind” sort of lags, suffering from second episode-itis (pressure to follow up on premiere, having to find new reasons for us to care about everyone, holding more of a responsibility to keep people’s attention, etc). If anyone wonders why the premiere episode spends so much time with Jennifer Brown and her dealings with the president, it’s because the show is going to focus a lot on the White House remnants/remainders and their mini-civil war. It’s not the most interesting place to spend time during a worldwide decimation, but it is, admittedly, different, since most of the time, this is all the stuff that happens off-screen. We usually spend time with those on the ground while the government and military collapse elsewhere. The show is going to have to convince us that this is the better story to follow.
Things pick up nicely with the third episode, “Neil,” as new threats emerge and Yorick is absorbed into the equation. Pressure points and vulnerabilities are created while the truer trajectories for all the characters start to take shape. Y: The Last Man holds a lot of promise now as it exits the doomsday event itself. The battle to rebuild the world, and Yorick possibly finding inspiration and inner-worth, is more interesting than actually seeing civilization fall. We’ve seen that happen on TV and in movies a ton — from cars clogging old roads to planes crashing down to the miserable mobs rushing guarded gates — so Y: The Last Man will find its footing, and (hopefully) greatness, by giving us a differently shaded aftermath.
Y: The Last Man thankfully gives us a few episodes to watch at the outset, as the story doesn’t begin to pick up and take proper shape until the third one. The tale definitely has unique elements and a ghastly hook, but the actual doomsday-focused moments don’t land as provocatively as intended given the overcrowded landscape of dystopian ruin in pop culture. That plus the story’s overall focus on the governing instead of the governed makes for a sludgy watch at times. Still, there are enough seeds planted in these first three episodes to bloom into something exciting and interesting going forward, and we’re certainly left with one hell of a moment to chew on.