If you’ve ever wondered in a moment of heartbreak, rage, or exasperation whether men are really necessary, then has FX on Hulu got a scintillating new sci-fi action thriller for you! Based on the post-apocalyptic comic book series of the same name, Y: The Last Man is a dystopian drama that explores themes of gender and gender disparities, feminism, race, class and survival while telling the gripping tale of what happens when Earth’s male population is entirely wiped out—except, as the title implies, for one last man.
The comic books, written by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, were published by Vertigo from 2002 to 2008, and it’s been quite a hero’s journey—literally—to get the story off the page and onto the screen. In fact, this project is 10 years in the making and almost didn’t see the light of day… on multiple occasions.
“I had to put the script down for a couple of months and really reassess it tonally because it became a different creature, it became a violent protest,” show developer Michael Green said of the manuscript after the 2016 presidential election. “It couldn’t not be political, and I had to embrace it, and I had to find my way in, and I had to find a way to channel my own dismay, disappointment, and rage into it, while still keeping it what it is.”
But even before Green thought of scrapping the project altogether, the series had already been through its fair share of drama: Several versions of the script were thrown out and two directors left. Fans of the original series are, of course, pumped to see it finally come to fruition, so whether you’re already a fan of the books or you’re new to the series, keep reading for everything you need to know about Y: The Last Man,
What Is Y: The Last Man about?
In the original comic book series of the same name, an unexplained cataclysmic event wipes out every mammal with a Y chromosome, leaving only two male survivors: Yorick Brown and his pet Capuchin monkey, Ampersand. In the wake of the inexplicable genocide, Yorick and Ampersand must traverse this new post-apocalyptic world as they link up with other survivors to build a better future.
“I think what’s so great about the book is that it’s not the mystery of what happened. It’s how people create belief systems around what they think happened,” showrunner Eliza Clark told ComicBook.com. “So, I’m very interested in explanations for what happened, but I’m not that interested really in what the answer is, because ultimately, the answer is science fiction. I think that this show and the book are about what happens to people when something like this happens, and what do they believe and how does their beliefs inform the way they create a community? The way they think about themselves, the way they think about the world, and the way they behave? And I think the same is true for the series.”
When does Y: The Last Man come out?
Y: The Last Man starts streaming exclusively on FX on Hulu on Monday, September 13.
Is there a Y: The Last Man trailer?
The trailer for Y: The Last Man is as action-packed as you would expect it to be. Set to James Brown‘s “It’s a Man’s World,” it opens with shots of the gendered apocalypse, with scores of male authority figures dropping dead, leaving only the women in charge of the government.
Our favorite line from the adventurous clip? A woman tells Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) he’s “reproductively interesting.”
Who’s in the Y: The Last Man cast?
Ben Schnetzer as Yorick Brown
You may recognize Schnetzer, who was once an Elvis impersonator, from the movie Warcraft. Now 31, Schnetzer got his first acting gig at 19. He told W Magazine, “It always seemed like acting was something I might want to do. WhenI got my first job, I realized, ‘Oh, being an actor is more than just going on auditions—I can actually make a living out of this.’”
Diane Lane as Sen. Jennifer Brown
Playing Yorick’s onscreen mother is critically acclaimed actress Diane Lane, who begins the series as a Senator and, before long, is addressed as “Madame President.”
“I know the graphic novels are from another era of that medium. And so the exploration of what goes on in the story is going to be visited through a more modern lens whether that’s the issues that come into play in the plot or whether it’s the world has changed so much since the graphic novel came out,” Lane has said. “And I’m excited that the writers of the original material are open to us fleshing this out in a way that is as modern and timely as possible, as much as you can.”
Now more than ever, Lane realizes the relevance of Y: The Last Man as so much has changed in the world since the pilot was first filmed in 2018.
Lane added, “I mean, of course, there’s a pandemic in our story, and so many things about the story have become less and less science fiction and more and more science. What was so surreal about the story has become a little less surreal. So, to be filming a story about a pandemic while one is happening is confronting.”
Ashley Romans as Agent 355
Ashley Romans, most known for Hermoine Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis and a brief appearance in Shameless, came into the project late to replace Lashana Lynch after some cast changes. (Thirlby was also a late addition, taking the place of Imogen Poots).
Amber Tamblyn as Kimberly Campbell Cunningham
Of all the cast, Amber Tamblyn has perhaps provided the most hype leading up to the series debut. Of her character Kimberly Campbell Cunningham, Tamblyn told Variety she’s a “very deeply conservative boy mom, whose entire identity is through the patriarchy and through the men that were in her lives.”
Tamblyn added, “I don’t think [she] has the tools or the emotional capacity to know how to deal with such trauma. It breeds in her an empathetic monster that you will come to see over the course of the season, which is going to be really conflicting, I think, for viewers.”
She also volunteered that much of the portrayal of her character was inspired by Ivanka Trump, even going as far as to study footage of Trump’s speech at the G20 summit.
“There is this very sad way in which she is trying to be heard and to be taken seriously by these leaders, and you can see their faces—you can see that they don’t really take her seriously,” Tamblyn said. “And I used that as a frame for Kimberly’s entrance into this world.”
Y: The Last Man also stars Olivia Thirlby as Hero Brown, Missi Pyle as Roxanne and Jess Salgueiro as Christine Flores.
Who wrote Y: The Last Man?
The original, on-the-page version of Y: The Last Man was written by Vaughan, an American comic book writer from Cleveland who also worked as a story editor and producer on Lost, and Guerra, a Canadian-American comic book artist and editorial cartoonist. Vaughan conceived the seeds of the plot after the unexpected end of a relationship, ut he credits Pia Guerbra with bringing it all together.
“I knew I wanted to write a book about gender, and I guess I had just been through a bad breakup,” Vaughan said at New York Comic-Con back in 2019. “We told so many origin stories… I don’t remember what is fact or what is fiction. It didn’t become what it was until I met Pia. And then it really evolved from my original idea after I met her.”
Guerra added, “I loved it. I just wanted to get started right away. It was a great idea. It had concepts that were hard sci-fi, it talks about gender, but it was couched in a story that was really just about a guy trying to get to his girl. It had so much heart, that I was like, ‘this is great. I can’t wait. Let’s go.’”
While both Guerra and Vaughan have series writing credits on all 10 episodes of the TV series (as well as producer credits, according to IMDB), it’s unclear if either co-creator will make an actual cameo in the series. (Though we sure hope they do!)
Behind the scenes of the series, you’ll find current showrunner Clark, who succeeded Michael Green as he left the project to continue his work on American Gods. (How fitting that a man stepped down and a woman stepped in!) Clark is best known for Animal Killing (2016), Extant (2014), The Killing (2013) and Rubicon (2010). Plus, all episodes of the current season were directed by women and even led by a mostly female production team.
Is Y: The Last Man sexist or transphobic?
Over the years, Y: The Last Man has been the center of much controversy over whether it’s sexist or transphobic. As per SyFy, the first problem many critics seem to have with the plot is its overall premise: All the men die off, leaving the women to run the world, and yet, the story still revolves around a man—albeit the last man. Even with a seemingly feminist plot like that, some feel that it’s misguided to tell this particular story through the lens of a man.
The story has also faced criticism due to the inclusion of several portrayals of women that can be interpreted as sexist. Such language as “whorebag” and sentiments like “I hope he gives her herpes” are just two oft-mentioned examples.
The main argument for Y: The Last Man being transphobic boils down to the very idea of it: Gender is interpreted as chromosomes and chromosomes only, with little regard for the fluidity of gender or reproductive organs, gender identity, etc. And to add insult to injury, the original story also includes the word “tranny” in reference to a murdered trans man.
Despite the at-times problematic material Y: The Last Man is based on, FX chairman John Landgraf promises that the show’s binary presentation of gender will be up with the times.
“A lot has changed since the graphic novel,” Landgraf has said. “One of the things the show will make clear is that there are women with two X chromosomes and men with an X and Y chromosome—but there are also women with two Y chromosomes and men with two X chromosomes. So, what happened was all the mammals with a Y chromosome—with the exception of this one man and this one monkey—died in one event. But there are numerous men in the show that had two X chromosomes, and they’re important characters. It’s also made clear that a number of women died that day who had a Y chromosome and probably didn’t even know it.”
Clark added, “In our world of the show, every living mammal with a Y chromosome dies. Tragically, that includes many women. It includes nonbinary people and includes intersex people. But that’s also true of the survivors. I think every single person who is working on the show—from the writers to the directors to the cast and the crew—are making a show that affirms that trans women are women, trans men are men, nonbinary people are nonbinary, and that is part of the sort of richness of the world we get to play with.”
Is Y: The Last Man feminist?
Y: The Last Man is quite often referred to as a feminist text, though many have criticized the graphic novel series for being faux-feminist and relying on shadows of perceived feminism rather than the actual, fleshed-out thing.
In Y, there are villains called female supremacists and trans-exclusive radical feminists (or TERFs) and in the TV adaptation of Y, there are plenty of opportunities to rectify some of the series’ perceived sexist shortcomings.
In addition to flipping the gender binary on its head through the release of Y: The Last Man, the cast, crew, and showrunners hope to do the feminism of Y no disservice.
Clark, who makes the point for feminism by reminding us that the world in Y was destroyed mainly because of a disparity between male- and female-dominated professions, added, “Cisgender men make up the vast majority of most industries—[for instance] only 5 percent of truck drivers are women and our entire economy runs on trucks.”
How many Y: The Last Man books are there?
Y: The Last Man was published by Vertigo from 2002 to 2008. A total of 13 books were published, all of which were co-authored by Guerra and Vaughan. The monthly comic itself ran for 60 issues before being reprinted in book format.
How many Y: the Last Man episodes will there be?
With so much material to work from—13 books!—it’s totally possible that like The Walking Dead (which is the perfect example of a comic book-turned-TV-series success story) Y: The Last Man could last longer than a single season. Still, right now, Season 1 is tapped for 10 episodes and there’s no word yet on if it’s been picked up for a Season 2.
Clark added, “But in terms of how long [the show will go on], I mean, listen, it’s the most fun the fun I’ve ever had. I love this world, I don’t want it to end. I feel like, generally speaking, television shows are best that around five or six seasons, and I’ll leave it at that.”