Review: Y: The Last Man (2021)

Oh boy. Or lack thereof because of the gender plague. I’ll start by saying that the original 2000s comic book run of the same name by Brian K. Vaughan is one of my favorite comic book series. Genuinely, when I first came across the story in my college years, it was in the middle of its entire run, and I consumed and kept up with Y: The Last Man until its conclusion. Does it hold up? Yes, but not without some, in retrospect, pretty glaring issues around the science and social commentary that we have come to better understand with time.

Of course, as is the case with any popular property, there have been whispers and rumors of live action adaptations of the comic book property throughout the years, but to no avail. Finally, it was adapted into a television series, a la Walking Dead, that premiered on the FX network in 2021. There was genuine buzz and hope that this beloved comic book story would be adapted into a great television series. All the elements were there: great story, talented cast, good production value, contemporary relevance with the whole pandemic, so the show was destined to be a hit, right? Well, it was canceled after its first season with no interest by any other network to pick it up and continue.

General rule: you can have unlikeable protagonists, but I shouldn’t actively be rooting for anyone/everyone to put a bullet in their head.

Admittedly, adapting any property is a difficult undertaking because of the expectations of fans and the parameters already established in the original work. And Y: The Last Man had both in spades along with social commentary, criticism, and discussions concerning divisive topics like race, eugenics, scientific advancement and responsibility, the role of power, etc. Because of this, I was cautiously optimistic about the adaptation but was buoyed a bit from the cast announcements. Seriously, the cast for the series is stacked with some legitimate talent. So, even if there were major changes and unmet expectations, at least the acting would be good. And it was…mostly.

The cast was very good, and at no point did it seem like anyone was “phoning” in their performances. However, the overall story felt flat and kind of boring. Considering the story and world that is being explored, it is fascinating how dull the action and scenes and dialogue felt. Granted, the comics did have far more conversation and walking around than action sequences, but somehow the lack of characters and active scenery and world felt consequential and with purpose that the television adaptation lacks.

I cannot say if it is because there have been many apocalypse based media, or the advancement of discussion of the issues that the original comic speaks on, or the delay in making an adaptation of the comic book, or some other unrelated factor, or mixture of everything, but the series was just not very good. I actually stopped watching around episode five and came back to the series only recently to finally finish it. And after returning, my initial assessment hasn’t changed. It was a series of unmet potential that didn’t meet the heights of the comic book and made some understandable narrative changes that ultimately did a disservice to the story. I don’t necessarily recommend watching this one, at least not for the intent of enjoyment.

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