Y: The Last Man Tries to Open Your Eyes by Tearing the World Apart

Home Technology Y: The Last Man Tries to Open Your Eyes by Tearing the World Apart
Y: The Last Man Tries to Open Your Eyes by Tearing the World Apart
Ben Schnetzer's Yorick Brown hangs upside-down in a magician's straightjacket while a small child watches him in Y: The Last Man.
Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) in a bind.
Image: FX on Hulu

In FX on Hulu’s adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man comic, global society collapses within moments of the onset of a mysterious event that kills almost every living mammal with a Y chromosome. Though Yorick—the world’s last living cisgender man—is one of Y’s primary protagonists, the series goes to great lengths to emphasize how he’s just one of the key components to its story about how humanity responds to the single most devastating catastrophe it’s ever faced.

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Like the DC Comic (née Vertigo) it’s adapted from, the live-action Y: The Last Man is a story about people reeling from tectonic shifts ushered in by the apocalypse, and realizing how terrifying actual, fundamental change in one’s life can be when things go to hell. Even in the end times, our titular last man—Ben Schnetzer’s Yorick Brown—is shielded somewhat from the gravity of the situation as the first season unfolds, thanks to the carefree and charmed life he leads as the deadbeat son of a powerful politician (Senator Jennifer Brown, played by Diane Lane). But as the show begins to pull other characters like Yorick’s sister, Hero (Olivia Thirlby), and secretive Agent 355 (Ashley Romans) into the foreground, Y: The Last Man very quickly starts illustrating the myriad ways that people react to half of the population dying all at once.

An intersection clustered with cars filled with dead people.
Image: FX on Hulu

One of the most interesting things about the first few episodes—three are now streaming—is how they zoom in on the show’s core cast at some of the rawest and perhaps most honest points in their lives. Unlike apocalyptic narratives that skew more toward the supernatural or science fiction, Y: The Last Man presents a hypothetical situation that at least some of its characters (and mostly likely a good chunk of its audience) have considered to one degree or another previously. When scores of men—and a far smaller number of women who, perhaps unknowingly, were living with Y chromosomes—suddenly begin dropping dead across the world, those left standing don’t understand the how or why of it all, but the gravity of what’s happening is clear to everyone. Individually, people are emotionally ruined by their personal losses of friends, family, and loved ones. Collectively, people are put in immediate peril that the story uses to set the scene for its vision of a world that may very well fall apart before there’s any hope of saving it.