“We weren’t chosen. We were forgotten.”
The Last Man on Earth is a funny show, but the underlying mood is one of loneliness and despair, one that inevitably results when human contact eludes you at every turn. Sure, you can fill up your time with bowling ball shenanigans and Jenga tower building and margarita pools and ball companions, but at the end of the day, the lack of a human presence around you can certainly be draining and devastating.
This is exactly what we see in “Alive in Tucson”, the first episode of the two-part opener. There hasn’t been another show on television that has opened quite like this one: with Will Forte’s Phil Miller doing whatever the hell he wants in a post-Apocalyptic world. There’s a surreality to be found in his actions and in the beautifully shot surroundings, and each scene finds a delicate balance between the comical and the sad. The best example of this is when Phil goes up to a mannequin, then flirts with and kisses it; there are laughs to be found in the physical comedy of the scene, but at the same time, it’s a quietly heartbreaking moment that underscores a need for human contact.
There’s a nice touch (heh) regarding human contact later on in the episode. Phil dreams that Alexandra Daddario is holding him in her arms, but he wakes up and realizes that it’s Kristen Schaal’s Carol Pilbasian. Even though he’s craving human contact, he still dreams about the women he finds the most attractive; although it remains quite sad how we oftentimes go after bodies more so than brains, this bit gets at a more realistic take on a character such as Phil. It doesn’t paint him in the best light, but he seems more like a flawed, fleshed out human being that way.
Aside from that, the biggest discussion point around these two episodes seems to be the introduction of the last woman on Earth. To be honest, I wish the show waited a bit longer before bringing out another character–or at least sketched a more complex view of the two–but I trust Lord and Miller to provide some solid, deeper character development as we move forward. Right now, there’s some interesting discussion about why exactly Carol is so stingy about the rules and why Phil is a slob. These are two different approaches toward life, toward maintaining some sense of humanity by holding onto what came before, and pitting Carol-as-societal-constructs vs. Phil should provide for some interesting insights later on. Right now, the interactions between the two aren’t quite as good as the solo Phil scenes, but they’re both still fun to watch throughout the episodes. In the end, this is a very fun pilot in general, and it should be a standout show in a mostly dull network television landscape. Phil Miller may be the last man on Earth, but this is not the last I’ll be seeing of him.
-Oh hey, Alexandra Daddario.
– “They are…mas-tur-batory magazines.”
-There really is no wrong way to use a margarita pool.
-Tucson is not a good place to rebuild civilization.
-We have a great creative team here: Phil Lord and Chris Miller, as well as former Community writer Andy Bobrow.
-I’m afraid there probably won’t be regular coverage for this. Sundays are crowded enough as it is, especially during the spring, but I’ll check in at some point during the season. I’m interested to see where exactly the show goes from here.
-Kudos to FOX for picking up a show with a concept like this, although I’m sure the network had a say in when exactly another person would show up.
Photo credit: The Last Man on Earth, FOX