On Sunday night, The Last Man on Earth premiered on Fox, starring Will Forte as Phil Miller in the year 2020, following a virus that has wiped out humankind. The first episode, “Alive in Tucson,” begins with Phile driving across the country in an RV, stealing valuable items, and looking for any living person. When he cannot locate another human, he leaves messages on signs of his whereabouts, returning to his hometown of Tucson. Once he returns home, he leaves his crappy apartment for a mansion in a neighborhood he could never have afforded previously, decorating the walls with priceless stolen artwork.
Phil talks to God about his condition, and it is revealed that he wants a female companion more than anything. When God does not seem to answer his prayers, the episode devolves into a childhood fantasy, specifically: What would you do if you were the last person on Earth? Would you try to make the world a better place, or would you do everything you never knew that you wanted to do? Phil decides to go bowling in a parking lot, blow up cars, and make a margarita in a baby pool complete with a salt rim.
Since this is supposed to be a comedy, there are some laugh out loud, funny moments. Phil has a coterie of ball people that he talks to, like Wilson from Castaway, which is made even more humorous because Phil watches the movie. There is humor present in the first episode, but it was hard to believe that this could continue to be effective with just one character, who talks to balls and God. Luckily, Phil finds someone else at the point that he is ready to commit suicide.
In the second episode, “The Elephant in the Room,” Phil finds that he is not the last person alive, meeting up with Carol, played by Kristen Schaal, who initially could not be more different. This additional character adds to a plot that does not seem sustainable with only one character. Carol’s appearance provides an odd couple dynamic, which paves the way for comedy and furthers the story. It also changes the question from the first episode of what you would do to how will they survive.
There is something about the fantasy that this world inhabits that is both nostalgic and refreshing. On the one hand, it plays into the fantasy of no longer having to follow rules, which appeals to people with an inner child or maybe with arrested development. It really made me think of the shenanigans I would get into if I were the last person on Earth. At least now I already have an idea: a margarita pool. It is also refreshing because it tackles a post-apocalyptic world that is not riddled with danger. After the saturation of television shows, movies, and novels filled with zombies and dystopian governments, it is refreshing to watch a post-apocalyptic world where danger is not imminent and supplies are plenty, as long as the store can be broken into. It is invigorating to see Phil shoot out windows with a gun, instead of having to use guns to defend his life from zombies or other people. The only danger for Phil is himself: boredom, loneliness, and liver failure, since he spends so much of his time getting drunk.
Ultimately, this show is fun to watch. As a viewer, it is fun to consider what you would do if you were in the same situation, with no rules and all the alcohol you wanted from the bar. Since it is a comedy, it is nice to watch Phil’s existence in a post-apocalyptic world without constantly feeling a sense of dread. It feels original because it takes on a setting that already feels like it has been overdone in television and film, but makes it new. It is definitely a show worth watching to see how it will realize its potential; I have high hopes.
The Last Man on Earth airs on Fox, Sundays at 9:30 E