LONDON: It almost strains credulity that, in a show about the last surviving man on earth, there remains an unerring sense that the female characters have been sidelined. But it’s that sense of frustration that dominates the first three episodes of “Y: The Last Man” — released on Disney’s streaming service.
As we learn at the end of the first episode, a catastrophic, global event causes the males of every species to drop dead in gruesome fashion. As the world reels from losing half the population, a fledgling US government — now headed by former congresswoman Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane) — tries to keep the lights on after every male-dominated office and industry grinds to a shuddering halt. When a sole, male survivor is found, Brown must do her best to keep him safe from the desperate survivors, as well as her new political rivals, not least given the unfortunate optics resulting from the fact that the survivor, Yorick, is her son.
“Y: The Last Man” is adapted from Brian K. Vaughan Pia Guerra’s Eisner Award-winning comic book series. Showrunner Eliza Clark and her team clearly felt the need to update the source material a little from its 2002 debut, and there’s some much-needed finessing of the early comics to bring them in line with 2021 audiences.
Clark has also assembled a stellar cast. Lane, in particular, gives Brown an air of embattled authority over a world ripped in half. Ashley Romans, as shady operative Agent 355, is a livewire, and Olivia Thirlby also stands out as Hero, a paramedic trapped in New York (and Yorick’s sister). It’s just a shame that, for the early episodes at least, the story centers around Yorick — played with suitable slacker-charm by Ben Schnetzer.
In a society made up entirely of women, it’s a bit depressing that the sole male survivor looms so large. That said, his story is key to establishing the world so we must hope that, as the series progresses, the female-led stories will move into the spotlight. Because in terms of fleshing out a post-apocalyptic world (with a unique, fascinating twist on standard movie tropes), “Y: The Last Man” shows real potential.