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Is Y: The Last Man worth watching? Critics say it could become “a truly great show”

FX’s Y: The Last Man premiered its first three episodes this week.

Y: The Last Man offers an interesting if not wholly original premise: What happens when all the men disappear on Earth, except for one?

This new FX series, adapted from the award-winning graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, turns that premise into a genre-bending political thriller. The show begins when a mysterious event causes all people and animals with a Y chromosome to fall dead except for one man Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) and his pet male monkey Ampersand.

The people who remain — women and men with only X chromosomes — must deal with grief, anger, and crumbling societal infrastructures as a result of this unexplained cataclysm. In the midst of this chaos, Yorick wants to locate his sort-of fiancé Beth (Juliana Canfield). Ultimately, he finds himself in the middle of a political conspiracy.

The president (Diane Lane) sends Yorick off on a dangerous secret mission with a mysterious and lethal government agent named 355 (Ashley Romans); together, they must find a geneticist who might hold the answers to why this all happened and why Yorick is still alive.

Y: The Last Man releases its first three episodes today via FX’s partnership with Hulu. Is the new series worth checking out? With a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, many critics are on the fence about this comic book adaptation, acknowledging the show’s “incredible performances” but also feeling like it’s “a bit of letdown.” Here’s what critics had to say.

Yorick wears a gas mask in public to protect his identity in Y: The Last Man. FX

Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich calls the source material “one of the best comics ever,” but says Y: The Last Man is a “boring TV show,” in his review:

At best, the new FX on Hulu drama (debuting Sept. 13) takes the Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra source material in intriguing new directions. Too often, though, it's a dutiful adaptation, turning the comic's eccentricity into a familiar genre wallow.

Brian Tallerico’s review for RogerEbert.com, meanwhile, praises Lane’s performance and the show’s depiction of leadership, which leads the series down some interesting avenues:

Clearly, there are rich ideas to explore in “Y: The Last Man,” but the source found a way to be playful and quick while the series often tends to feel grim, at least for the first four episodes. When Yorick and 355 get to Boston, the tone shifts a bit—Bang offers a notable variation on the bleakness that preceded her—in a very welcome way, and there’s reason to believe that this could still become a truly great show.
Diane Lane plays President Jennifer Brown in Y: The Last Man.

In The Wrap’s review, Joelle Monique writes that the lack of humor in Y: The Last Man makes it a tough show to watch, given the ongoing pandemic:

Despite featuring a lead character named Yorick — the dead court jester from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” known for being a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy — the humor is decidedly lacking. Without the brevity of escape and joy, the journey becomes a slog.

Time’s Judy Berman addresses the unique challenges that face a show such as Y: The Last Man in her review, such as updating the book’s dated gender politics to acknowledge transgender identities. Although Berman writes that the first couple episodes are rocky and unclear, she sees promise in the series:

Y: The Last Man improves so much over the course of its first six episodes that its potential feels limitless. If audiences can weather its apocalypse, the show might well become something special by the time rebuilding commences.

Y: The Last Man premieres new episodes Mondays on FX on Hulu.

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