Y: The Last Man cast and crew reveal how the show updates the comics for 2021

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Few comic book live-action adaptations had as turbulent the development cycle as Y: The Last Man. For 13 years, the studio hosted Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s revered graphic novel series.

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Now, after several failed attempts, a TV show based on the comics has risen from the ashes — and Y’s live-action adaptation not only serves as a tribute to the source material, but to the 20-year-old graphic novel series as well. updates. reflect modern social values.

Set in the aftermath of a global catastrophe in which every mammal with a Y chromosome has mysteriously died, Y: The Last Man follows Yorick Brown (Ben Schnetzer), the last surviving cisgender male human. Accompanied by his pet Capuchin monkey Ampersand, Yorick explores a post-apocalyptic world whose female human population – led by Yorick’s mother and US President Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane) – continues to haunt society while mourning for their loved ones. Struggling to restore.

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Ahead of the show’s release, Nerdshala sat down with producer Eliza Clark, Schnetzer, and fellow actor Ashley Romans to discuss Y’s lengthy development process. We also talked about how the show finds a balance between respecting the source material while modernizing its story for today’s audience.

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recreating a beloved comedy series

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The live-action adaptation of Y: The Last Man hasn’t been straightforward. In July 2007, New Line Cinema acquired the rights to develop a film based on the works of Vaughan and Guerra. However, the film adaptation spent seven years in development hell – a period that saw two directors, four screenwriters and three producers come and go – before it was scrapped.

In October 2015, reports emerged that FX was developing a TV series based on the property. However, Y’s second live-action production also ran into problems. Early co-showrunners Michael Green and Aida Mashaka Kroel moved on to creative differences, while Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, Callum With Horses), who had been hired to play Yorick, left for reasons unknown.

It was up to Clarke to pick out the pieces from the faltering TV production. But, as a longtime fan of the comics — Clark revealed she’s been “obsessed with the book” since 2009 — the ex-Animal Kingdom writer felt she did justice to Vai’s story, characters, and world. can.

“I had a really specific vision of how I wanted the series to look,” Clark explains. “I was able to rewrite the pilot and redo it completely, which gave us a clean slate. I was lucky that FX was excited about my take on the material and they were ready to start with me. Were. I feel the pressure and the responsibility [to do justice to the comics]But I know if I were a fan of the books, I would have loved the show, so I think people will love it.”

Keeping a semblance of continuity with Green’s vision, including retaining the show’s original cast, helped Clarke and his creative team get off the ground. It expanded to use the overarching narrative of the source material as a basis for the work, but some creative liberties are taken with the plot of Y: The Last Man.

For one, the cataclysmic event, which takes place long ago in the comics, is reserved for the final few minutes of a TV series premiere. In Clark’s view, taking this pivotal moment to the episode’s climax was important not only to build tension, but also to give the show enough room to introduce its various characters.

“I love the way the event unfolds in the first five pages” [of the comics],” Clarke says. “I think it’s strong and you’re just thrown in. But I think it’s very important to know who these people are before you stress over who they will become. [after the event]. It’s important to see where their loyalty lies and where their blind spots are. If you don’t know who they are before things happen, it’s not as fun to watch them dramatically change in exciting and surprising ways. “

building relationships

With humanity largely wiped out within tragic minutes, all that is left of the human race is forced to forge new alliances and friendships in order to survive. In Yorick’s case, her pre-pandemic bond with the ampersand – the only other male mammal survivor – becomes the key connection in her life as society falls apart.

In order to capture the intensity of Yorick and Ampersand’s relationship, Y’s listeners hoped to use real-life capuchins during production. However, after the animal rights group PETA condemned the verdict to compel [monkeys] To endure a miserable life inside cages and in front of cameras” During the show’s initial pilot, the series’ creative team opted to use CGI to bring the ampersand to life.

Acting with a blank space could have caused problems for Schnetzer, who played Yorick. But, as he points out, his experience in the 2016 VFX-rich Warcraft movie helped him adapt to such a scenario.

“It took time to get used to this empty animal crate, which is believed to contain a monkey,” says Schnetzer. “You have to remember that there must be this precious cargo inside. But we had animal operators and monkey trainers who showed me how to carry a crate, or pretend how to talk to an animal that isn’t there. We Went back to the basics of using your imagination, but it was a really fun experience.”

As the story progresses, Yorick becomes closer to one of Wai’s main characters: Agent 355. Thrown together by circumstances, the two embark on a globetrotting adventure to find a way to save the human race – tasked with keeping Yorick safe as they do so with Agent 355.

Commanding, resourceful, and rational as he is, much of Agent 355’s backstory remains a mystery to parts of the comics and, by proxy, the TV adaptation. For Ashley Romans, who played Agent 355, this was an opportunity to peel back the layers of complex character that attracted her to the character in the first place.

“He’s confident, grounded and has strong boundaries,” Roman says. “But I felt most connected to her insecurities. She never reveals her real name and after the incident happened, she doesn’t know what she’s going through. Everything is going exactly as it should [for Agent 355] Up to that point, but then she has to fake it until she makes it, despite being distracted by everything. “

importance of gender representation

Y: The Last Man’s comics raise tough questions about gender identity and inequality, but its TV adaptation moves on. The source material examines sexism and misogyny, but does not challenge the notion that gender identity can exist quite passionately outside the male-female binary. Transgender men are mentioned in passing, but little else is done to reflect the broader gender spectrum.

In contrast, Y’s TV series explores the effects of its world-changing events on the LGBTQ+ community. As Clark explains, anyone with a Y chromosome dies, including transgender, intersex, and non-binary people, as well as some women with conditions such as androgen insensitivity syndrome.

Survivors who identify outside the male-female binary are also affected. The addition of Sam Jordan, an original character played by real-life transgender actor Elliot Fletcher, offers an insight into the problems LGBTQ+ people face in a potentially post-apocalyptic world. Access to hormone therapy and discrimination are two such examples.

For Clark, examining the implications of Y’s traumatic event on the LGBTQ+ community is how social attitudes have changed for the better since the comics’ first issue launched in September 2002. Updating Wai’s story and world building to reflect this sea change, was then a necessary step in representing greater gender diversity.

“The reality is that our world is gender diverse and chromosomes are not equal,” Clark explains. “I wanted to reflect that diversity, avoid this binary way of thinking, and add a real richness and beauty to the human experience. It was also a by-product of the Me Too movement, and the way we around the world think about gender and inter-identity. I had a lot of anger that I wanted to express [in the show], and I have so many thoughts about the experiences of my own loved ones [regarding sexism and gender identity]. That’s why I was curious to explore it in this adaptation. “

It is unclear whether the TV adaptation’s trans, intersex and non-binary characters will feature prominently in the series’ narrative. Sam Jordan aside, the first three episodes of Y lack LGBTQ+ representation, so the show risks appearing symbolic with its gender-diverse character quota.

If Y: The Last Man keeps its promise to better reflect the world around us, it should resonate with audiences in a way similar shows previously did. Its post-apocalyptic storytelling is standard fare so far—The Walking Dead, Netflix’s Sweet Tooth, and other TV productions are proof that dystopian tales haven’t garnered their welcome just yet.

But Y: The Last Man has the potential to deliver a level of LGBTQ+ authenticity that’s on par with shows including Pose, Queer Eye, and Orange Is the New Black. If this does Putting its gender diverse characters front and center, rather than sidelining them, Y: The Last Man may be remembered as just another post-apocalyptic TV adaptation.

Episodes 1-3 of Y: The Last Man are available to stream on FX on Hulu now. The show will launch on Disney+ in the UK on 22 September, with new episodes releasing weekly on both platforms.

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