It’s impressive how much comedy Lord and Miller are able to derive through Phil’s silent actions in isolation. The gross lifestyle Phil Miller maintains on the show feels like a deeply thought-out reality, one in which a lack of running water forces him to manufacture his own “toilet pool.” For the purposes of punctuating jokes, Forte plays the endearingly sad clown in Lord and Miller’s comedic observations on dystopian life, as the duo prove themselves reliable with hilarious revitalizations of tired plot concepts.
While the show’s first episode plays out with almost no one on screen outside of Forte, questions about whether The Last Man on Earth has a novelty value that will wear thin might be assuaged by the knowledge that other actors are set to appear on subsequent episodes. Kristen Schaal is the first, playing an unexpected composed and hygienic survivor who followed Phil Miller’s “Alive in Tucson” signs to Arizona. Schaal’s character’s attachment to pre-apocalyptic customs such as stopping at stop signs serves as amusing contrast to Forte’s character, as is Phil’s open disdain of her. Their differences in approaching the end of the world cleverly reveals aspects of the characters’ personalities, and adds to the tension as the survivors learn to co-exist.
As The Last Man on Earth continues to introduce new characters over the course of its 10-episode season, it will be interesting to see how Lord and Miller aim to further subvert the traditional mold of the last humans responding to the end times with bravery. January Jones and Mary Steenburgen have been announced for future appearances, along with both Mel Rodriguez and Cleopatra Coleman. Which features of civilized society that these characters choose to hold important, and which ones they neglect without the other people around becomes a point of intrigue in the show’s reality. Not only is it far more engaging to see these survivors struggling to overcome the obstacles that come with the eradication of civilization, but it’s also funnier that way.
Will Forte plays the endearingly sad clown in Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s comedic observations on dystopian life, proving that the writing/directing duo are reliable for hilarious revitalizations of tired plot concepts.