How Can The Last Man On Earth Be So Endearingly Obnoxious?

Illustration for article titled How Can iThe Last Man On Earth /iBe So Endearingly Obnoxious?

Every once in a while, The Last Man on Earth breaks you. The show works its magic and turns the audience into a frustrated member of the cast. That happened this week as Will Forte’s Tandy continually, and hilariously, repeated the same phrase over and over: “I did the crime, now I gotta do the time.”

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It’s a hackneyed phrase we’ve heard throughout our lives, but leave it to Tandy to take it, break it, and spit it out in so many different, annoying versions it made me literally scream at the TV. “Okay! Stop! We got it!”

Now, you’d think screaming at a television would be a bad thing. But that kind of visceral response is the oddball appeal of The Last Man on Earth. You always kind of hate the people on it, but can’t wait to see what crazy thing they’ll do next. To me, eliciting a scream was a badge of honor.

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Appropriately, Sunday’s episode was called “C to the T,” which was just one of Tandy’s many ways of massaging the “Crime” and “Time” quote. (The full acronym was particularly enraging). Last week we left him in the stocks, captured by his old crew. This week they proposed he should have a week of solitary confinement as punishment for pointing a gun at them. But Tandy (please don’t call him Phil) said, “Why not make it five?”

Oh, Tandy. This is just another terrible plan by this fantastic character. He almost always has the best intentions, but he’s so broken by his time alone as the “Last Man on Earth” he’s lost all concept of consequences or feelings. Just because you volunteer to do five weeks doesn’t make it any better for you.

Illustration for article titled How Can iThe Last Man On Earth /iBe So Endearingly Obnoxious?

So, of course, five days of solitary lasts all of a few hours. And when they string him up with a shock collar, he needs a second collar so he’ll shut up. And even when he’s being quiet, Phil isn’t content just doing the time, he wants acknowledgement for it. It can never, ever, just be simple.

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It all comes down to trust, Todd tells Tandy. They’re doing this to him because he’s betrayed their trust too many times and he has to earn it back. Which doesn’t quite make it okay for them to treat him like this, but it’s funny none the less.

Later, an opportunity presents itself to save everyone and Tandy shows the selfless human buried somewhere beneath that terrible facial hair. The episode ends with Tandy finishing his time and next week, that issue of trust will be back on display as Todd is doing something mysterious. I’d imagine, whatever it is, it’s going to be hilariously enraging. Any show that can so quickly elicit not just laughs, but a physical and verbal response, it always worth looking forward to.

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Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

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DISCUSSION

My money is Todd having his own imaginary “ball family,” in that house, but perhaps in some other form. Either way this show is great, and Germaine is totally right. Somehow, part of this show’s charm is the fact that you love to hate the characters. It’s pretty brilliant.