I wanted to like The Last Man on Earth. I really wanted to.
When I first heard about the show, I thought it was an interesting concept: a one-man show highlighting the ups and downs of finding yourself alone after the whole world’s gone to shit (pardon my French), but of course, as many people when we first heard about it, I wondered for how long that could work. The answer was right at the end of the first episode, when we found out our protagonist, who had spent two years driving around the country while putting up “Alive in Tucson” signs, talking to balls and making out with mannequins, discovers he isn’t alone in the world. There is someone else out there, and it is a woman.
The show manages to make the second and third episodes charming by highlighting the big differences between the new character, Carol, and Phil. While Phil’s way of keeping himself “sane” was to break as many rules as possible, Carol’s way was to overcompensate by paying way too much attention to the rules. Their interactions were funny, they had a really fun rapport, and even though Phil’s reticence to Carol’s suggestion that they should marry before they start trying to repopulate the Earth was ridiculous (if marriage no longer exists as institution, what does it matter to do it for show, Phil?), we started to see the two bonding and Carol letting loose. The show was now more “the odd-couple” than the actual The Odd Couple, and it worked.
Until Melissa arrived.
January Jones’ character is smart, she is funny and she happens to be a girls girl. She wants to make friends with Carol and she simply wants to have other people to talk to (despite being horny, understandably). She is a wonderful addition to the show.
And yet, her arrival was the beginning of the downfall of Phil as a main character.
Phil has become obnoxious, creepy beyond repair and completely unlikable. While Carol has shown improvement and has let loose, Phil seems to be falling into a downwards spiral because of his penis. He doesn’t enjoy sex with Carol (admittedly, she is a bit out there about it) and his dick is telling him to “go for Melissa”. The show manages to make it feel completely disrespectful towards Kate Schaal, who is a cutie and does not deserve to be highlighted as ugly against January Jones, and especially makes it disrespectful towards both Melissa and Carol, who have to stand around his aura of creepiness.
In the last episode that just aired this Sunday, he convinces the two women that he should have sex with both so their babies wouldn’t have sex with each other (sound logic, show, he would still be the father of both their children, but hey, suspension of disbelief, right? There are no rotting bodies in here!) and while both agree that having two pregnant women at a time seems to be more efficient for re-population purposes, he manages to make the entire situation for both the audience and for the character of Melissa uncomfortable.
I get it, though, the show is telling you you are not supposed to find Phil likable, but there is a difference between a lovable asshole and just a plain asshole, and Phil has crossed that line.
How disgusting he is is even more highlighted with the arrival of Todd (played by Mel Rodriguez, which I first saw in Enlisted and who is hilarious), which makes Phil no longer the “last man on earth”, and who happens to be a lovable, kind, goof, which Phil decides to pick on because he is overweight and follow around upon his connection with Melissa. It’s mean and it isn’t funny, and although Todd might not be who he appears to be, at this very moment, every single character surrounding Phil manages to be more charming than the main character himself.
So my question is, should Todd take Phil’s place as the “last man on earth”? Seems unlikely, considering Will Forte is the creator of the show as well as the lead, but what I do know is that unless they redeem him soon, in some way, for me he will be dead very soon.