Two episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
This past Sunday saw Fox’s The Last Man on Earth fail to add an Emmy to its collection of memorable artifacts (a gallery that features raisin balls, toilet pools, and Gary the Volleyball), but its appearance for multiple nominations was a pleasant reminder of the oddball success this series has been so far. Returning this Sunday for a second season, the post-apocalyptic comedy is very much the same show it was when premiering only seven months ago: anarchic, shambolic, loopy and (more often than not) very, very funny.
Star and creator Will Forte getting nominated for an acting award was hardly a shock, and executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller are no strangers to writing accolades. Given that the show developed a notably high-profile cast by the end of its 13-episode first season and was airing on network television, an awards presence and decent ratings could arguably have been the least of Fox’s expectations for The Last Man on Earth.
Then you remember what this show is actually about, and suddenly the hill Forte, Lord, and Miller had to climb to make it work becomes so much more daunting. As the eponymous (then erroneous) last man to survive a deadly virus, Arizona native Phil Tandy Miller (Forte) provided a Grade-A jerk to centre a story of loneliness and self-improvement around. Not so much forgotten by the end times as rejected by them, Phil spent most of the first season exhibiting embarrassing, cringeworthy behavior that included lying, stealing, and planning a couple of murders. By the end of the season, only Carol (Kristen Schaal), an obnoxious grammar nut from Delaware, was willing to save Phil from total abandonment.
As Tucson became more and more populated – growing to include Mel Rodriguez, Mary Steenburgen, and Boris Kodjoe as a man also named Phil Miller – Phil’s awfulness had more opportunities to present itself. Despite Forte’s charming way with losers, Phil wasn’t always an enjoyable anchor for the show. Around the midpoint of the season, an initially inspired premise had seemed to settle into episode after episode of a selfish guy getting hoisted on the petard of his latest plan to get laid. But as more characters started appearing, and Phil’s indecency become more obvious to everyone else, The Last Man on Earth stumbled upon a dark truth about humanity more frightening than any seen on The Walking Dead: change is possible, but it’s really, really, really hard.