Eliza Clark, executive producer and showrunner of FX’s adaptation of “Y: The Last Man,” read the comic 10 years ago and was drawn to its story of survival. She responded to how it looked at power and systems of oppression in the wake of a cataclysmic event that kills all men on the planet. The series is the culmination of over a decade’s worth of attempts to tell authors Bryan K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s story.
Clark wanted to take all the things she loved and update it for the series, specifically where it concerns gender. “Our show is gender diverse,” she said Friday, during the show’s panel session at the TCA Summer Press Tour. “We’ve made the representation of this world, in some ways, very different [from the comic book.]”
The lone male survivor, Yorick (Ben Schnetzer), once set apart in the graphic novel because of his gender, is now separated by his biology.
“What was exciting about the book [is] it takes this idea where a world that is filled with mostly women [and it’s] not necessarily a paradise,” Clark said. “Women uphold systems of oppression like patriarchy, like white supremacy [and] capitalism. There’s so much more that can be explored within that, because gender is diverse. Chromosomes are not equal to gender. In our world, in the world of the television show, every living mammal with a Y chromosome dies.[…] It includes non-binary people, it includes intersex people.”
“We really recognized the opportunity to blow up the binary,” said executive producer, Nina Jacobson, adding that the hope is that the show affirms trans women are women, trans men are men, and that the world can be richer for it. Jacobson further hopes the show will ask questions like, “what is gender,” “what is identity,” “what makes a man a man,” “what has been imposed on us by society,” and “what is truly us?” “There’s an opportunity to examine the systems that create identity and grow from them and change them,” said Clark.
Before starting the writers’ room, Clark started researching gender inequality in various industries. “What I learned is our entire economy runs on trucks,” she said. “Five percent of truck drivers are women. So this is definitely a world that has been decimated because cisgender men make up the vast majority of most industries, including our own.”
“I don’t think anyone could have imagined what we’ve learned in the last year, about how we act in a crisis,” said Jacobson and that aids in a series that feels surrealistically relevant to our times. There is violence and tragedy in the series, but Clark and crew were very specific in how they chose to photograph it.
“It was my intention to not make either intimacy or action gratuitous,” Clark said. “These are people who are trying to survive in a scary world.”
“Y: The Last Man” premieres Monday, September 13 on FX.