‘Y: The Last Man’ looks at world thrown into chaos

Rick's Reviews

“Y: The Last Man” looks at a world left in chaos by a deadly event. (Photo courtesy of FX)

The use of comic books as the basis for television projects continues with the new FX on Hulu series “Y: The Last Man.” The award-winning comic book – that launched in 2002 and ran for 60 issues – is based on the idea that anyone with a Y chromosome has mysteriously died. The only males left on the planet are one man and one monkey.

Eliza Clark, an executive producer and writer on the new TV series, read the comic book 10 years ago and fell in love with the story. Her efforts to turn the comic book into a TV series can be seen with three episodes available through FX on Hulu starting Sept. 13.

“I think it is a beautiful story about survival, and it examines characters in a landscape that is constantly pressing on really interesting ideas about power and about systems of oppression,” Clark says. “But the comic book is also 20 years old. One of the things I was most interested in doing with his adaptation was taking all of the things I love so much about the comic book, but also updating it.

“Our show is gender diverse. We’ve made the representation of this world, in some ways, very different from the way it is in the comic book. We used the book as a blueprint. And I think fans of the book are going to love it.”

Clark’s adaptation starts with that mysterious event that wipes out every living creature with a Y chromosome. Congresswoman Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane) rises through a decimated line of succession to become President of the United States.

Jennifer assembles a dedicated team of women to rebuild, but her plans are upended when she learns that her son Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) survived the Event. He may hold the secret to what happened.

A major difference from when the comic book was initially released and now is that the world was not going through a pandemic at that time. Cast and crew of “Y the Last Man” are banking on viewers wanting to still see a post-Apocalyptic world when the real world they are dealing with has a deadly virus.

Lane is convinced there will be an audience because her series isn’t dealing with the buckets of blood brand of horror. This series is designed to be more suspenseful following the cataclysmic event.

“I don’t really know why, but it seems to bring us in a sense of community around fears that we’re coping with anyway. There’s a lot looming over our heads and it’s nice to feel connected with people that are dealing with it,” Lane says. “We have their emotional experience, instead of just watching the news, and freaking out internally, and acting nice all day.”

That being said, Lane admits filming the series was daunting. There was a degree or surrealism at filming a scene about a deadly situation while in the middle of a pandemic.

“American Rust”

Jeff Daniels has played characters with a lot of layers over the years from real people like George Washington to appearing on Broadway as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” But, his latest role in the Showtime series “American Rust” may be the most complicated character he has tackled.

The series – set to launch at 10 p.m. Sept. 12 p.m. on the premium cable service – is based on Philipp Meyer’s family drama novel. It is a story of survival and transcendence told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Daniels) in a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices.

When news of a murder rips through the town, Harris must decide what lengths he is willing to take to protect the son of the woman he loves (Maura Tierney). Daniels’ character deals with being a man who upholds the law but also can reject it when necessary.

“That’s the contradictions. A lot of what we’re going for in this is real people – their good and their bad, their strong and their weak,” Daniels says. “Just like people in real life. This is less of a Hollywood-polished version of southwest Pennsylvania and more of this cast trying to blend in and become one of them.

“He’s still got to be a cop regardless of what he’s going through personally.  And he tries his best. Which is a lot of what this show is:  good people having to make bad choices in order to survive.”

Daniels sees his character as being a reflection of what is happening in the real world. There is a need more than ever to fight for what is right even when the truth doesn’t seem to matter.

To him Del represents the majority of people who have faced a string of adversities but never given up on the idea that it is important to do the right thing even if others aren’t.

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