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Why ‘The Last Man on Earth’ Is a Substantial Achievement, and Season 2 Hints

Why 'The Last Man on Earth' Is a Substantial Achievement, and Season 2 Hints

Since the first episode, the television series “The Last Man on Earth,” has been a popular topic of discussion. The mere reunion of the “Clone High” gang — Chris Miller, Phil Lord, and Will Forte — was enough to spark viewer interest, and the show continued to grow in popularity as it challenged the look and feel of a traditional network sitcom. The trio comes together for a series that redefines the portrayal of post-apocalyptic society. 

Part of AwardsLine’s screening series, Will Forte (Creator, writer, EP, star), Chris Miller (EP, Director), Phil Lord (EP, Director), and Kristen Schaal (Star), participated in a post screening panel and Q&A session at the Landmark Theater this Wednesday. The creative masterminds behind the show had the crowd roaring in laughter as they highlighted the best of Season 1 and hinted at what lies ahead in Season 2. 

READ MORE: ‘Last Man on Earth’ Reviews: Will Forte Stands Alone

On the Edge of Your Seat

When
watching “The Last Man on Earth,” remember to buckle up. Season 1 was a roller
coaster of a ride, full of surprises and jaw-dropping moments.

When Indiewire spoke with Miller on the red carpet, he stressed how important the show’s suspenseful aura
was. “I
think part of the fun of the show is that it is really serialized. There are
all these twists, turns, and surprises. Every episode has some sort of
cliffhanger or a new shocking development. That is something that is going to
keep going in the second season. It’s not always about bringing new people in.
We obviously aren’t going to have a cast of 400 by the end of the show.”

“There
are lots of different ways that the dynamic can change and we can keep people
guessing and not knowing which way the show is going. That is something we
really appreciated about the show and it is a hallmark of it.”

The Humor

Forte,
with the help of longtime friends Lord and Miller, came up with the initial
concept for the show over the span of a weekend. Forte wrote the first episode
and then collaborated with the team of writers on the rest.

What’s
the secret behind Will Forte’s humor? According to him, the key to success was
the “100 years of friendship on the show.” He humbly credited the writing
staff, explaining how he surrounded himself with friends from the best of his various career experiences, including “Saturday Night Live” and
“Third Rock from the Sun.” 

Miller
gave one example of the many benefits that came from working within a close group
of friends. “It was a good pairing for us, where Will would have the idea
to do a margarita pool, and we would have the idea of it having a salt brim. It
was really fun to add to the stuff, but it was mostly just a peek inside the
bizarre mind of Will Forte.”

The
plot and context of the show, the end of mankind, was not exactly a factory for
producing jokes. When the show was about to air, the question on everyone’s
mind was how were they going to make it funny? Forte and the directing duo
revisited the tricks of silent cinema and used physical comedy. From aquarium
bowling to a pool toilet, the series found humor in Phil’s fantasy
fulfillments, as he had the opportunity to live out his wildest dreams, with no fear
of repercussion. Smashing things was always good for a laugh, but the defining
part of the show was the way Phil dealt with the everyday aspects of life.
Forte joked, “The practical
stuff seems kind of bonkers, but if you think it through you go well what would
I do?” 

The Aesthetic 

The unconventional small cast and
sexual undertones of the series aren’t all that makes “Last Man” stand out from other broadcast comedies — the cinematic approach and
unique take on the post-apocalyptic theme also help ensure that the show is one-of-a-kind.

“We thought about what are all the moves
that other shows are doing. When you look at the landscape of network TV how
does it feel? Let’s see what happens if we do the opposite,” he said. “How can it feel as grounded a place as
possible? Can the camera work be as modest and as invisible as possible?
Instead of relying on zippy editing all the time and whoosh sounds. Can we take
that stuff out and let these guys make you laugh instead?”

The spectacular visuals and unique soundtrack
emanate from a vintage aesthetic, as the two directors explained how the formal
focus of the show is a reflection of the narrative. According to Miller, “When
you look at this concept being the last man on earth, the idea of being able to
have a lot of wide shots and get a sense of the scale and the space around was
a really important thing.” 

Lord added, “It justifies wide shots, because you want to feel how alone this person is or how alone these people
are.”

The desert setting and use of music, which Lord
described as, “anything that felt like it was being played off a
vinyl,” supplemented the wide shots to give the show its vintage vibe. All
of those elements build towards what Lord described as “a neo-realist
sitcom.”

The Integral Role of Carol

Kristen Schaal’s witty comments generated the majority
of the crowd’s laughter. When she was asked about her reaction to joining the
show, she stated, “I was so excited, it was such a big deal to be asked to
play the only woman left in the world. That’s a large torch and I wanted to
make sure I represented my gender.” 

She had a profound response in regards to the
question of what we can look forward to in Season 2. Encompassing the satirical
side of the show and the larger thematic undertones, she remarked, “Season
2 is going to be a wonderful exploration into a lot of mind-opening themes
about who we are in humanity, where we stand as a society, how we are going to
rebuild it, why we rebuild it and whether or not we made the same mistakes in
history as these people are going to do in 2022.”   

READ MORE: How ‘The Last Man on Earth’ Challenges the Form and Function of the Sitcom

The Beard is Coming Back

The show’s creator and directors would only hint at the possibilities awaiting in Season 2, but despite a lack of details, it appears there is much to anticipate. Miller revealed, “We left ourselves a wide open playground to play in for Season 2.”

What should viewers expect? Judging from the responses, here are our guesses: The character count has probably reached its peak. There will be an emphasis of jokes surrounding realistic scenarios, which, in Season 1, was the source of the show’s most memorable moments. Cliffhangers and surprises will continue to be prevalent. And as Miller pointed out, indicating Forte’s facial hair, “I’m not in the spoiler business, but you can see that the beard is back.”

Does the beard have significant relevance to what sort of turn the series is taking in the upcoming season? We will have to wait and see. From Forte’s excitement, it seems like the wait will be worth it, as “The Last Man on Earth” is a series you don’t want to miss, given how it deliberately questions what the future of television has in store. 

READ MORE: 2015 Emmy Predictions: Best Actor in a Comedy Series

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