The Last Man on Earth (TV series)
|The Last Man on Earth|
|Created by||Will Forte|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||31 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||March 1, 2015– present|
The Last Man on Earth is an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series created by and starring Will Forte. The series premiered on Fox on March 1, 2015. The pilot episode was written by Forte and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. On April 8, 2015, the show was renewed for a second season, which premiered on September 27, 2015. On March 24, 2016, the show was renewed for a third season.
Sometime around 2019, a deadly virus is spread across Earth and, in late 2020, Phil Miller (Will Forte) is seemingly the only human survivor. As he searches North America for any other survivors, he spray paints "Alive in Tucson" on many billboards and other signs across the United States. After having found nobody else, Phil returns to his hometown of Tucson, Arizona believing that he is the last man on Earth. However, right before committing suicide, he sees a smoke signal and discovers Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal). As Phil and Carol immediately begin to bond, the two eventually marry for the sake of the human race, even though they find each other annoying because of their personalities. Over the season, five more survivors arrive, but due to Phil's attitude and personality, they kick him out of Tucson. Carol rescues Phil, and upon reuniting, Phil reveals to Carol that he had a brother, who is shown to be still alive and stranded in the International Space Station.
At the start of Season 2, now in the year 2023, Phil and Carol are happily remarried and decide to revisit Tucson to meet up with the others, but they discover that they have moved and find them in a mansion in Malibu, California. As they reunite with the group, Phil attempts to reestablish trust with his fellow survivors, who deal with love triangles and pregnancies as the season progresses. Meanwhile, Phil's astronaut brother Mike Miller continues his long search for human life while living with worms in space, but as the worms die one by one, he decides to leave the station via the descent module, and successfully crash lands on Earth. He eventually finds his way to Malibu, where he joins Phil and company briefly before he believes he has been infected with the virus and leaves.
- Will Forte as Philip Tandy "Phil" Miller, who is living on Earth after a virus wiped out nearly the entire population in 2019, believing he is the last person left. He lives in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, having already searched North America for signs of other living people. Out of loneliness, he talks to various sports balls on which he has drawn faces and adopted as "buddies." He paints "Alive in Tucson" on billboards during his trip in the hope that others might see the message. Forte describes him as "a selfish person who sometimes borders on being a flat-out sociopath". Jacob Tremblay portrays young Phil, who appears to his brother Mike in multiple visions in the episode "Pitch Black".
- Kristen Schaal as Carol Andrew Pilbasian, an eccentric woman from Delaware who sees Phil's "Alive in Tucson" sign and travels to Tucson. She pressures Phil to marry her so they can work towards repopulating the Earth with "legitimate" children. Carol is shown to be compassionate and is good friends with Melissa and Todd but can hold grudges. Carol and Phil divorce in the middle of the first season, but Carol chooses to leave with Phil after he is banished from Tucson and they subsequently remarry. In the second season, Carol becomes pregnant with Phil's first child after he finally tells her he loves her.
- January Jones as Melissa Chartres, a former real estate agent who meets Phil and Carol after they crash their pickup truck into her limousine. Like Carol, she has seen the original Phil's "Alive in Tucson" sign and travels to Tucson. Phil is initially very attracted to her and frequently vies for her affection, despite the fact that he has just married Carol and Melissa does not like or trust him. She begins a romantic relationship with Todd after he joins the group. In the second season, Melissa breaks up with Todd after deciding she does not want to have children, but when she changes her mind, she and Gail eventually agree to simultaneously date Todd.
- Mel Rodriguez as Todd. While on his way to Mexico, Todd spots some fireworks set off by Phil and is able to find him and the rest of the group. Kind and selfless, Todd's nature leads to him becoming the most likable member of the group, much to Phil's increasing annoyance. He and Melissa become very close and begin a romantic relationship shortly after they meet. In season 2, Todd finds himself torn among Melissa, who broke up with him after deciding not to have children; Gail, who started dating him out of sympathy; Erica, who tells him that the late Phil II chose Todd as a surrogate father for her baby; and even Carol, who approaches him with a surprise request to impregnate her.
- Cleopatra Coleman as Erica, an Australian woman and self-described "political nerd". After the outbreak of the virus, she met Gail at the White House, and the two became traveling companions. They later discover Phil after spotting a fire he started. After Phil and Carol divorce, Erica and Gail move in with the rest of the survivors. In the second season, Erica becomes pregnant with Phil II's child, but when he openly flirts with Carol, she is upset and decides to not involve him in their child's life. In "Smart and Stupid" she tells Mike, whom she is dating, that she was wrongfully imprisoned for armed bank robbery before traveling to the United States and getting a job at the State Department under an assumed name.
- Mary Steenburgen as Gail Klosterman (recurring season 1; starring season 2), a chef and former restaurant owner from North Carolina. After the outbreak of the virus, she met another woman named Erica, and the two became traveling companions. Gail mentions having had a husband but does not reveal what happened to him. In the second season, she develops a relationship with another survivor named Gordon, but after Gordon dies of a heart attack, she has trouble finding closure, even dressing a mannequin to look like Gordon, until she starts dating Todd.
- Jason Sudeikis as Michael Shelby "Mike" Miller, the last man in space and a scientist who survives in Earth's orbit aboard the International Space Station. He is the younger brother of Phil Tandy Miller and, like Phil and his sports balls, talks to worms in containment jars out of loneliness. He also appears in a still photograph in the premiere episode with his brother and parents. In the season 2 mid-season finale, Mike begins his return to Earth with a newborn companion worm. After landing in the sea, he is abandoned on shore by paranoid seaman Pat Brown, but seeing an "Alive in Tucson" sign inspires Mike to go there. He reunites with his brother in "Fish in the Dish". Though their sibling rivalry resurfaces, the brothers eventually reconcile and explain to each other how their parents were proud of them both. Halfway through "Smart and Stupid", Mike starts to cough up blood, one of the symptoms associated with the virus, and decides to leave the next morning to avoid spreading the virus.
- Boris Kodjoe as Philip Stacy "Phil" Miller, a former member of the Special Forces from High Point, North Carolina. He discovers the rest of the survivors after finding the original Phil sunburned and unconscious on a billboard. Also a former contractor, his skills with construction — as well as his good looks — soon make him a favorite among the women in the group. He and the original Phil, who must go by "Tandy" after losing a competition to him, become rivals shortly after meeting. In the season 2 mid-season finale, he dies after a botched appendectomy performed by Gail, who is eager to tell the others that she is not a doctor. After the group says goodbye to Phil, Tandy learns that, despite Phil's earlier claim that he had no middle name, his middle name was Stacy.
- Alexandra Daddario as Victoria (season 1), an attractive woman that Phil (Tandy) hallucinates before he meets Carol.
- Will Ferrell as Gordon Vanderkruik (season 2), a survivor living in Malibu, who dies from a heart attack from the shock of Carol's sudden appearance. When Gordon first met the other survivors, he developed a relationship with Gail. His grave reveals that he was born in 1978 and died in 2023.
- Mark Boone Junior as Pat Brown (season 2), the first person Mike encounters after returning to Earth. A former tennis champion, he wanders the sea on a yacht, fearing that he will risk being exposed to the virus that caused the apocalypse in the first place if he goes ashore or meets any other people. He also believes that the U.S. government has plotted a conspiracy to trap survivors. Pat returns in the second season finale, having apparently been spying on Phil (Tandy) and company through a UAV. After Melissa shoots down the drone, Pat and two other survivors arrive on the shores of Malibu, carrying rifles and prepared to attack.
Background and production
The show originated from the writing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who had the idea initially for a feature film. They approached longtime collaborator and former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte with the premise, who "took a spark to it and took it in his own direction", according to Miller. He was partially inspired by the series Life After People. "I love comedy where there's a lot of tension and even though it's very far-fetched, it seems very relatable", said Forte of the premise. Forte's treatment for the series, crafted over a weekend, was pitched around Hollywood to positive responses. They mainly pitched to cable and Internet services, as Forte believed a broadcast network would be stricter on content. In their pitch, much of the outline of the series' first season was formulated. Fox, the show's eventual distributor, was instead doing "something different" and specific to his vision, according to Miller.
Forte spoke on the show's creative freedom in a 2015 interview:
I think we always saw this as more of a cable show, to be honest. They claimed from the get-go that they didn't want to change the tone of the show, and I think I went in with an eyebrow raised, thinking, okay, well when's it going to come out that we have to change it around? And they were great. They stuck by their pledge and let us make this different type of show. We're so happy to have had this experience. It was just a great, great experience with Fox.
Filming the series was challenging. For example, maintaining silence and not picking up sounds of cars in the distance made it difficult. In addition to Forte's fascination with Life After People, similar films bandied about while writing the show included The Omega Man, I Am Legend, and 28 Days Later. Fox particularly appreciated the heart of the story, with its universal theme. According to Lord, "We always talked about that this is a person who is very flawed, and a person who maybe needed the entire world to end in order for him to become his best self. [...] That was our big thought, well here's a guy who maybe he wasn't the best guy in the regular world, but if you took the regular world away, could he eventually get back to being the person that all of us hope that we can be."
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||March 1, 2015||May 3, 2015|
|2||18||September 27, 2015||May 15, 2016|
For its one-hour premiere, The Last Man on Earth received 5.75 million viewers with an average 2.4 rating among adults 18–49, making it the highest-rated broadcast series of the evening in that demographic. While ratings declined overall, the show did well enough with young men to justify renewal.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||Premiered||Ended||TV season||Rank||Viewers
|1||Sunday 9:30 pm||13||March 1, 2015||5.75||May 3, 2015||3.51||2014–15||93||6.07|
|2||18||September 27, 2015||3.14||May 15, 2016||2.23||2015–16||114||4.23|
The Last Man on Earth has received generally positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the show has a score of 72, based on 30 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called the show "a genre-busting breakout that's creative, nuanced and inspired". Robert Bianco of USA Today praised Forte's "audacity, inventiveness and achievement". Hank Stuever of The Washington Post called it "a charming and intelligent sendup of pop culture's obsession with the end of everything". Slate's Willa Paskin called the program "well-made, polished, odd, surprisingly funny". "For a show that shouldn't really work at all, Last Man works pretty well", remarked Margaret Lyons of Vulture.
Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen called it "profoundly funny", and sustainable if it continues the "ingenuity, surprises, and craftsmanship". "I was impressed by The Last Man on Earth, and hope it can continue to spin stories and character development out of its somewhat narrow premise", wrote Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe.
However, several critics, such as Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post and David Hinckley of the New York Daily News, have questioned the show's future. Mike Hale of The New York Times deemed the show "well made, meticulous in its comic details and pleasantly acted", though noting that part of the show's appeal "dissipates" past the pilot episode. Brian Lowry of Variety opined that "the premise calls for a level of creativity from the producers that these episodes don't consistently deliver. That's not to say 'I wouldn't watch him if he were the last man on Earth.' But like the fate of humanity within the series, while the future certainly isn't hopeless, neither does it look particularly bright."
|2015||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Will Forte||Nominated|||
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Will Forte||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Will Forte for "Alive in Tucson"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series||Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for "Alive in Tucson"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series||Stacey Schroeder||Nominated|
|EWwy Award||Outstanding Comedy Series||The Last Man on Earth||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Kristen Schaal||Nominated|||
|68th Writers Guild of America Awards||New Series||The Last Man on Earth||Nominated|||
|Episodic Comedy||Will Forte ("Alive in Tucson”")||Nominated|
|2016||6th Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Comedy Series||The Last Man on Earth||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Will Forte||Nominated|
|68th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Will Forte||Pending|||
The first season was released on DVD in region 1 on September 22, 2015. The set contains audio commentaries for "The Elephant in the Room" and "Screw the Moon"; The Last Man on Earth Q&A Panel; "Survival of the Funniest: Creating The Last Man on Earth" featurette; deleted scenes; and a gag reel.
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CONAN: You shoot that show in Chatsworth, is that right? Kristen: Yeah. CONAN: Is that a fun place to be shooting, Chatsworth, California?
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