Early into FX’s Y: The Last Man series, it’s clear that there wasn’t all that much that made Yorick Brown particularly interesting in the time before the entire planet’s mammalian population born with a Y chromosome—aside from Yorick and his pet monkey—suddenly succumbed to an unknown disease.
In the plague-ridden world where the human race’s future is imperiled, Yorick’s genetics make him special, but Y: The Last Man is careful to detail how Yorick’s being a man and his masculinity are not unique to him. Other men like Sam (Elliot Fletcher), a friend of Yorick’s sister, Hero (Olivia Thirlby) have their lives fundamentally upended by the onset of the disaster and subsequent collapse of society. But as a transgender man, some of the difficulties Sam faces are distinct from Yorick’s. Y: The Last Man both digs into those differences and fleshes out Sam’s interiority in an effort to bring a more complicated, human understanding of gender to its story that was not quite as present in the original comic.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Fletcher and series creator Eliza Clark spoke about the ideas they wanted to shape Sam and how, even though the character brings an important perspective to the story, Sam being trans is only one aspect of his identity. Clark explained how, because there was no source material on Sam to directly pull from, the creative team felt a fair amount of freedom to build the character from the ground up, and put a particular emphasis on his creativity.
“He’s maybe about to figure out his voice as an artist, and then this event happens,” Clark said. “Suddenly, he’s forced to struggle just for survival, and he’s asking himself, ‘Is there art in this new world? Who am I if I’m not making art, if I’m not an artist?’ All of that is really interesting to me as a writer.”
Faced with the very real possibility of there no longer being a place for artists like himself in a world that, understandably, is a bit more focused on survival rather than creative expression, Sam’s friendship with Hero has taken on a new level of intensity that’s distinct from the relationship they had before the end times. In a recent episode, Sam and Hero found themselves on a mattress and compelled to kiss one another—something suggesting the possibility of potential romantic complications between the two down the line. From Fletcher’s perspective, though, in that moment, what Sam took away from that kiss was the a sobering reminder of how dire their situation is, and how much he doesn’t want to lose Hero as a friend.
“He comes back in and realizes where they are, what the situation is, and that this isn’t just another one of their random makeout sessions when they’re drunk,” Fletcher said. “This is a very serious moment, and it means much more than it used to. For him, there’s a lot of weight on that kiss, and he’s not sure in that moment that she feels the same.”
Y: The Last Man airs Mondays on FX on Hulu.
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