We Need To Talk About… Y: The Last Man
Mr Ben Schnetzer in Y: The Last Man (2021). Photograph by Mr Rafy Winterfeld/FX
We need to talk about Y: The Last Man. Why? Well, this latest post-apocalyptic comic-book adaptation, starring Ms Olivia Thirlby, Ms Diane Lane and Mr Ben Schnetzer, considers what would happen if all the men on Earth died off at once. Not two per cent of all people, like The Leftovers. Nor everyone bar Mr Will Forte and Mses Kristen Schaal and January Jones, like The Last Man On Earth. Not even 50 per cent of the world’s population, like Avengers: Infinity War. OK, almost 50 per cent of the world’s population, a bit like Avengers: Infinity War, but more specifically those with a Y chromosome (trans women, we’re taking you down with us, sorry). This is how the other half live, then.
So, Y: The Last Man… What’s all this about?
Ha. Got you. Nah, I’m still here. OK, Y: The Last Man is the new post-apocalyptic TV series based on a comic book.
Aren’t they all – or is it just me?
Sigh, I get it, it is just me. So, what’s the doomsday plot device in this particular timeline?
Well, if we’re keeping to the source material, a plague, which is something you might now be familiar with. And as the name suggests, the only man spared is this one guy, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey.
Alas, poor Yorick. Well, at least he’s got the place to himself now.
The women are still here. Did you forget the women?
But you said the plague killed everyone…
I said the only man spared was this one guy – I didn’t mention the women, who, in this imagined reality, are very much still alive. (Well, mostly.)
And, what without toxic masculinity, toilet seats left up and Mr Piers Morgan, this world is a better place, right?
Er. You see, despite what Beyoncé might have told you, women on the whole do not run the world. In their research for the show, the writing team found that, even today, there is a massive disparity in terms of the roles played by men and women in society and keeping vital infrastructure going. And not just those at the top making the big decisions, who are disproportionately male, but also the guys on the ground who do all the actual work.
This sounds like exactly the sort of scenario that only a man could imagine.
A woman. The showrunner, playwright Ms Eliza Clark, is a woman, as are most of the key players behind the cameras as well as in front of them – production designers, costume designers, the stunt coordintator… In fact, all episodes in the first season were directed by women. But still, it doesn’t look good for those left behind. “What I learnt is that our entire economy runs on trucks,” Clark told Variety. “I think five per cent of truck drivers are women.”
Gah, first Brexit and Covid, now this. Still, now everyone – sorry, every woman – is equal, right?
Again, not really. Other social divisions – racism, classism, homophobia, politics, religion, you name it – come into play. Inequality seems to come baked into the human condition. And like in Jurassic Park, which was supposedly populated entirely with female dinosaurs, nature finds a way.
Things unravel pretty fast. It’ll be a short series, then.
Actually, Clark is reported to have a five- or six-season arch plotted. And if it is anything like the comic-book series, which ran for 60 volumes between 2002 and 2008, it will be worth holding out till the end.
Speaking of which, what about the last man standing?
Yorick? Well, in the comics, he was a man you couldn’t stand. At least at first. As the story progresses, so does his character, going on something of “a journey”.
Although, being a man, he no doubt refuses to ask for directions…
Y: The Last Man is on FX on Hulu (US); starts 22 September on Disney+ (UK)