In order to finally bring Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra’s seminal comic Y: The Last Man to the small screen, series creator Eliza Clark and the rest of the creative team behind FX’s live-action adaptation knew they’d have to come to the project ready to rethink some of the original story’s core ideas to make them work for modern audiences. Unsurprisingly, that task was easier said than done.
At this year’s New York Comic Con, Clark—along with series regulars Ashley Romans, Ben Schnetzer, Olivia Thirlby, Juliana Canfield, Marin Ireland, and Amber Tamblyn—sat down to discuss Y: The Last Man’s first season, and open up a bit about their respective processes. Of the many shows that’ve released during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, Y: The Last Man stands out in particular because of the plot’s focus on a world plunged into chaos after the sudden onset of a disease that leaves half of the world’s population dead in an instant.
Looking back at the buildup before the series’ premiere, Clarke recalled how covid really first hit just two weeks before shooting was intended to start, something that halted production and prompted the writers’ room to convene remotely and discuss whether the show should touch on covid specifically. “We were two weeks away from shooting when covid hit, and so we shut down for a couple of months, and during that time we spent some time—the writers and I—spent some time thinking about whether or not covid should factor into the show or not,” Clark said, recalling how she didn’t want to watch a show solely focused on a pandemic. “[And so] I’m grateful that this is about an event, and the period of time after it and not an ongoing onslaught of deaths.”
She added that working on Y: The Last Man in the earliest days of the pandemic brought the team together almost like a family, as it often felt like they really only had one another to lean on for emotional support—something that’s reflected in the show, and often true of many of its characters. While new characters who weren’t present in the comic, like Sam, are some of the more obvious ways that FX on Hulu’s adaptation differs from the comic, Clark also spoke a bit about another way she and the rest of the show’s team have been trying to give the story a different energy.
The vast majority of Y: The Last Man’s creative team is made up of women, and Clark explained how important it was for them that the series feature elements of the female gaze. In order to solidify the idea—but also to look at other stories in similar veins they wanted to take inspiration (but not plot points) from—Clark and the others started up a kind of movie club. “So we watched things from Children of Men to I May Destroy You to... Thelma Louise,” Clark said recalled “Ultimately, I think what we decided the female gaze was, was subjectivity, point of view, and detail. So you see the roots of hair you, you’re seeing skin, sweat, dirt under fingernails, and each character, each scene is shot from somebody’s point of view, so that you feel like you’re inside of it.”
Y: The Last Man airs Mondays on FX on Hulu.
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