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Y: The Last Man Takes Its Time to Find Its Own Personality | TV/Streaming

Eliza Clark serves as showrunner on this particular version of the end of the world, one that, and we know this will be a broken record, plays differently in 2021 than Guerra and Vaughan explicitly intended. Ultimately, it’s a good time for a show about disease and divide, but while the real world feels like it’s added some weight to “Y: The Last Man,” it also has drained some of the humor and whimsy that helped distinguish the source.

Clark and her writers set out to make drastic changes to the original from the beginning, including somewhat back-seating its title character for the first few episodes. Still, Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) is there in the premiere, awkwardly proposing to his girlfriend Beth (Juliana Canfield) and teaching magic with his pet monkey Ampersand. Meanwhile, his sister Hero (Olivia Thirlby) is sleeping with a married man and dealing with her own recovery issues. Their mother just so happens to be Congresswoman Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane), who finds herself unexpectedly ascended to the office of President of the United States when everyone on Earth with a Y chromosome drops dead and she’s next in the line of succession. Well, everyone but Yorick.


While the premiere largely takes place in an ordinary world, most of “Y: The Last Man” is a grim, post-apocalyptic tale. Without spoilers, Yorick ends up accompanied by a bodyguard named Agent 355 (a series-stealing Ashley Romans, who is often charismatic enough to justify watching the show on her own) on a journey to find a doctor (Diana Bang) who might understand why he survived and how he could be the key to the future. Meanwhile, power struggles dominate the narrative in the White House as Brown’s political opposite and the dead President’s daughter Kimberly Cunningham (Amber Tamblyn) works to undermine the first female President and confusion reigns. Some of the early episodes deftly capture leadership through panic and Lane is particularly good at that. At one point, Cunningham tells her, “Without men, there is no future.” She responds, “We’re just trying to survive the present.” How very 2020s.

How do you lead through the end of the world? How are political and societal structures built by men different when only women are around to operate them? Clearly, there are rich ideas to explore in “Y: The Last Man,” but the source found a way to be playful and quick while the series often tends to grim, at least for the first four episodes. When Yorick and 355 get to Boston, the tone shifts a bit—Bang offers a notable variation on the bleakness that preceded her—in a very welcome way, and there’s reason to believe that this could still become a truly great show.



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