What does it mean to be the last man on Earth? What would happen if everyone with a Y chromosome suddenly died? These are the questions explored in the new FX on Hulu series, “Y: The Last Man.” And on this episode of The Playlist Podcast, showrunner Eliza Clark joins to talk about her new series and its long road to production.
For those not aware, “Y: The Last Man” is based on a comic book series from the early 2000s by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra. The story picks up right as half of the world suddenly dies by an unexplained event that kills every person on Earth with a Y chromosome. However, there is actually one last person with a Y chromosome left, named Yorick, who is joined by his adorable monkey, Ampersand. From there, viewers follow Yorick’s story as the “last man,” as well as the stories of various other folks that are left to pick up the pieces of a society that is turned on its head.
While that story does seem easy enough to adapt as a TV series, for some reason, it’s taken more than a decade for “Y: The Last Man” to finally hit screens. Originally, the story was looked at as a possible film. Then, when that fell apart, ‘Y’ moved to TV, where it went through a variety of showrunners and casting changes before finally settling down with Clark at the wheel. And though she doesn’t have many details about previous iterations, she does understand why “Y: The Last Man” is a bit tricky to adapt.
“This tone, it rides the line of being aware of what is actually happening in the world, but also finding the humor, the optimism, and the joy in this post-apocalyptic landscape,” Clark explained. “And I think that’s a really difficult [task]. I think it’s actually insane that they ever tried to make this into a movie because it is not a movie.“
She added, “One of the things I love so much about the comic book is that it’s not about what happened and why, it’s more about the belief systems that form around what happened. I can’t imagine a movie [version] would be anything more than, ‘Let’s find an answer!’ And lose all the most interesting parts of [the story].”
Ultimately, though there are difficult aspects to the process of adapting “Y: The Last Man,” Clark didn’t necessarily find it all that hard. In fact, she was excited to take a stab at it.
“I didn’t find it difficult [to adapt],” she said. “I just feel like it’s a huge landscape to play in and it has some really exciting, potent, and dangerous topics to cover. And I just got the best people I could to go there.”
Included in that group of “best people” she could find is her cast, which includes Diane Lane, Ashley Romans, Ben Schnetzer, Olivia Thirlby, and Amber Tamblyn. And somewhat surprisingly, many of those names were already attached when Clark took over. However, she did have the opportunity to cast three of the leads, Schnetzer, Thirlby, and Romans, after previous actors (Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, and Lashana Lynch, respectively) left the project. And for Clark, the ability to bring in new faces for those roles was a blessing.
“I think it was a blessing because the people we ended up with are exactly who I want to be there,” she said.
Ultimately, Clark thinks “Y: The Last Man” is a show that is “trying to blow up binaries in all different kinds of ways” and she’s excited for fans of the comics and new viewers alike to see the result.
“Y: The Last Man” debuts on FX on Hulu today. You can hear our full discussion below:
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