The “this” being Phil Miller (Will Forte) alone for an entire network show. But – spoiler alert – that solitude lasted not even two whole episodes, and since then we’ve seen Phil’s lament become Phil’s constant chagrin.
And over time, nearly every scene in the show becomes a tennis match of horribleness with your loyalty to characters as the ball.
You may end up taking each character’s side by the end of any scene.
His gleeful destruction of hurling bowling balls at full aquariums, and pilfering of Rembrandt paintings and the U.S. Constitution, soon is revealed as a veneer. Beneath it, Phil is roiling with end-of-his-rope hopelessness of trash piles, toilet pools, porn heaps and depression.
|Definitely the look of a well man. Indubitably so.|
As Phil’s Tuscon, Ariz., attracts people courtesy of his “Alive in Tuscon” signs across America, we get more layers to him. He’s by turns a blustering liar, a selfish conniver, a hapless faker whose schemes always backfire, a failed adulterer, a self-entitled narcissist, an adrift malcontent who has forgotten how to deal with people.
He’s also named Phil Miller, adding to his threat as a usurper/replacement.
|Hi there, Captain Dreamboat!|
And, because he’s played by Boris Kodjoe, he’s black too.
In my eyes, this matters.
He attempts to sleep with Melissa the hot girl while married to Carol the crazy not-hot girl (Kristen Schaal, trading on her wit and “ugly-cute” looks to maximum effect).
In doing so, Phil gets his comeuppance in Todd, who is presented as the ultimate “nice guy.”
|He’s even in a Pepto-Bismol golf shirt.|
Fat, understanding, homey and apparently selfless, Todd gets the hot girl, and all the sex with the hot girl, because he’s nice (and the only other guy around).
Both the self-centered jerk and the nice guy quickly become undone in the face of New Phil. Carol, Melissa, Gail and Erica already rightfully turned on Phil and enjoy New Phil for being the exact opposite while also stupid handsome. And Todd, cracking under his own insecurity and jealousy, throws away his relationship with Melissa after thinking he’s already lost her to New Phil.
|Erica, Gail and Phil in happier times. Y’know, before Phil messes it all up.|
In another episode, the insecure Todd tells Melissa not to hang out with New Phil any more after they went on a trash pickup job together. I’m not going to say I’m some kind of hot catch (my wife does that), but I’ve had an occasion or two when a white female friend told me later that their ex once told them to stay away from me.
And that “having sex” is actually that the women used the hot shower New Phil rigged?
Many of them pair a ridiculously muscled and endowed black man with the tiniest white woman they can find. And much of this stuff extols the physical and sexual superiority – muscles, penis, sperm – of the black man compared to his white counterpart.
Standup comedian Hannibal Buress, whom I saw on tour last week, has a joke about how the ubiquity of porn has warped his reality such that he’s wary of any friendly middle-aged white couple because he’s afraid of being asked to sleep with the wife while the husband watches.
|Carol and Phil: A match made in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.|
If The Last Man on Earth were on FX instead of FOX, Forte and Co. might be more explicit about all this.
New Phil has become better than Phil and Todd; he took away Phil’s self-appointed presidency of the USA, both of their women, Phil’s own name, Todd’s knowledge of cows, even Phil’s Jenga game because he couldn’t prove that his piece belongs on top.