Everyone in the new series Y: The Last Man is experiencing the worst day of their lives in perpetuity. They’re surrounded by the iconography we’ve come to associate with dystopias: splintered glass. Crashed cars. Rotting animal carcasses punctuating a snow-dappled field. The shock of blood against pedestrian environments. Posters emblazoned with pleas for our sons or the visage of a president the masses believe to be hiding truths. That this imagery glides by rather than pierces is telling given the world this show has been born into. Where Y: The Last Man simmers is in charting what happens in the wake of great collective and personal trauma—in this case, an event in which everyone with a Y chromosome, including nonhuman mammals, dies brutally and bloodily. The fallout sees the remaining people jockeying for power and control. Some find communion amid these horrors. Others cling fiercely to ideologies that can no longer serve them.
The show is an adaptation of the graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Ushered into existence by showrunner Eliza Clark, Y: The Last Man is already besting the source material by pushing its gender and political commentary further in ways that are fascinating if a touch is didactic. At its pinnacle, the series functions on multiple levels—as a gripping thriller, a curious thought experiment blooming with ideas about gender, and a portrait of a family’s healing. It poses increasingly tricksy questions as it tracks the aftermath of this cataclysm and the lives of the only two survivors with a Y chromosome: the somewhat sad-sack, late-20-something escape artist Yorick Brown (Ben Schnetzer) and his beloved monkey, Ampersand.
Sure, there are the knotted scientific and political questions around how all this death started. But I’m more interested in the series’s other themes. How can we heal in the face of continuous pain? How do women perpetuate the systems of oppression that have led our world to rot? It’s clear the creators of the show are interested in prodding this story in bold directions—but do they have the gumption and intelligence necessary to answer these questions with the fullness they deserve?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Jonathan Franzen Thinks People Can Change
Even if his new book suggests it’s nearly impossible to make it stick.
860 minutes with…Stephanie Grisham
In Kansas with Donald Trump’s former press secretary, who does not believe she will be redeemed.
Bed in a Box
Just how much drama can you pack into a studio apartment?
COVID Diaries: Sarah Jones
The 700,000 Death Toll An atheist stumbles toward a way to grieve.
Nothing Like the Real Thing
Since when does a comedy special also need to be a documentary?
Kumail Nanjiani's Feelings
The actor always wanted his own superhero transformation. Now he’s buff, a Marvel star, and struggling with how much of his new body is his own.
Performance Review: Ben Affleck Plays Himself
Becoming a tabloid star gave the actor his best role ever.
The Murders Down the Hall
393 POWELL STREET WAS A PEACEFUL HOME UNTIL RESIDENTS STARTED DYING IN BRUTAL, MYSTERIOUS WAYS.
The POST-COVID, POST-MANHATTAN PLANS PLANS of the MOST MANHATTAN of RESTAURATEURS
KEITH McNALLY, TO GO
Under Her Skin
Julia Ducournau funneled years of fury, angst, and comedy into her Palme d’Or– winning, genre-smashing film Titane.