Not If You Were Last Man On Earth

I began to appreciate Will Forte during the period he was on SNL, which I hadn’t been watching much of, but nevertheless ended up catching his brilliantly unhinged appearances on the Tim & Eric Awesome Show, as sampled above. His 2010 movie MacGruber, a parody of 80’s action flicks, is a rare example of an SNL feature film that’s better than the sketch it was based on, and is in my opinion what the Expendables movies should have been (more like Hot Shots). Apparently a MacGruber sequel is being planned.

His new show, The Last Man On Earth, about a man who has survived a mass extinction event, deals with the effects of crippling isolation and the struggle to define oneself in a structureless environment. Like a lot of science fiction—or perhaps, like all of it—the actual subject of the show is our present time, even though the story takes place in an imagined, recent future. Phil, the protagonist, has found himself in a world of essentially unlimited resources, a world in which he has access to everything that he needs to stay alive and keep himself entertained—everything except that which he needs the most. When he finally begins to discover other people, like Carol (played by Kristen Schaal) who becomes his new wife, he is so emotionally warped that he has difficulties incorporating and adjusting to these new social interactions.

This is probably not how the real end of civilization will go, but it’s a pretty good representation of how life is for many of us in the developed world, where decades of technological improvements and specialization have given us an abundance of consumer goods, often at nominal prices. We can get pretty much anything we want online or at Costco, but alongside these material advancements, our place in society seems to be growing more and more ethereal. In Japan, for instance, there is a growing problem of young people disinclining towards dating or having sexual relationships. In that country, the pressures of having a professional life and it’s isolating effects have bred a generation of “eunuchs of industry”—a phrase once used by Marx which in this instance is taking on a much less figurative meaning. And this isn’t necessarily unique to the culture of Japan. Here on the other side of the Pacific, the rapidly expanding tech industry has been flooding the dating market with myopic, undateable men, dudes who are excelling economically but lacking in the soft skills that are needed in the non-professional sector.  

We are living in perhaps the most and least connected point in the history of the human life. The ways that the species is learning to adapt to these changes—like smartphone apps which you can use to meet and hug a stranger, and the growing list of identities that people can take on which aren’t bound to family or geography (“Bronies,” for example)—suggest that pretty much everything is up for grabs.

Anyways, if you haven’t seen the show, it’s on Hulu and Netflix currently. Also, here’s an interview with Will Forte about the show on Bill Burr’s podcast:

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