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Fox's 'The Last Man on Earth' Tricked Us Into Thinking It Was a Good Comedy

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 1, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 1, 2015 |

Mere weeks ago, Fox debuted a nifty, original new show from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the brilliant minds behind The LEGO Movie and the 21 Jump Street movies. It was called Last Man on Earth and it starred Will Forte as a man who came to find that he was the only living survivor of a mysterious event that wiped out the rest of the world’s population. It was the first ever dystopian sitcom! And it was funny!

But then Kristen Schaal showed up. I like Kristen Schaal, but here she plays an unfunny, obnoxious nagging-wife stereotype who cajoled the last man on Earth into marrying her. But bygones, right?! That was just part of the setup. She was introduced, along with a host of gendered-sitcom stereotypes, to prove a point, right? They were going to lampshade all of those tropes and Last Man on Earth would flower into something beautiful!

But somewhere along the way, they must have forgotten to hit the subvert button.

Because then the show introduced a new female character played by January Jones. Now we’re getting somewhere, right? Now the show will be about how Forte’s character, Phil Miller, will choose Schall’s character, Carol Pilbasian, over the more attractive Jones’ character, Melissa Shart, because Carol is the better person underneath, right. (Yes, Shart is her last name. That is the kind of humor you can expect from Last Man on Earth.)

Only, that’s not what happened. What happened was that Phil Miller spent the next two episodes trying to figure out how to sleep with Ms. Shart. And the irony is, Shart is the only character on the show that approaches anything resembling likable. But Phil Miller didn’t want to sleep with her because she’s likable. He wanted to sleep with her because she’s bangin’ hot.

And he almost did! Until Todd (Mel Rodriguez) showed up. Todd is overweight, oblivious, and kind of dumb (but a very nice person). Within a matter of one episode, Todd and Ms. Shart were banging like bunnies to the sweet sweet sounds of Fine Young Cannibals, and an entire episode was devoted to Phil Miller trying to figure out a way to stop them from having sex. Because he wanted to have sex with her, see? Because he couldn’t stand to be with his horrible nag of a wife!

And then halfway through the next episode — which saw Carol trying to pressure Phil Miller into moving in with her — I quit. Not entirely because all the characters on Last Man on Earth are unlikable. And not entirely because the situations are gross. But because it’s not funny. Or clever. Or even a little bit amusing. It’s really just dumb. And all those repressed memories about how annoying Will Forte characters could be on SNL resurfaced, and I found myself not just disliking Last Man on Earth, but resenting it. Because it ruined what I’d come to think of Will Forte in the last few years. Because it tarnished my opinion of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, and perhaps most unfortunate, it made me like January Jones more than other people, relatively speaking.

That is unacceptable.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.