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The Last Man on Earth got a little crowded by the end of its first season.
The brainchild of Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte started off with a unique, intriguing premise: after a virus wipes out all of humanity, what does the lone survivor do next? Answer: first, break a ton of stuff. And then drive all over the country in an RV, spray-painting messages in every city letting any other survivors know that he’s alive in Tucson.
By the end of season one, Phil Miller (Forte) found himself surrounded by a whole group of survivors (January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Mary Steenburgen, Cleopatra Coleman and Boris Kodjoe) who made their way to his hometown. However, he was unceremoniously kicked out of the group and banished from Tucson after making more than a few bad choices. His ex-wife Carol (Kristen Schaal) surprised both him and the audience by taking pity on him and leaving town with him.
So where will they go next? The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Forte about what viewers can expect to see from Phil and Carol when season two premieres, as well as what changes are coming to the Fox comedy.
What did you learn from season one that you’re going to apply to season two?
One of the things we did last season was introduce a lot of characters along the way. They were fun twists and turns. But then at a certain point, we had done it so many times that people caught on and they expected it. So we’re trying to find new ways to give you twists and turns this year that might not involve the introduction of characters. So far we’re pretty happy with our ideas. Honestly, we learned so much, but ultimately it comes down to what we agree on in the writers room and we just go for it. There were a couple things that happened in the first season that were a bit polarizing for the audience, but we stand by them. Hopefully, people who watch this show know we aren’t trying to please everyone. We’re very committed to telling the story the way that we feel like telling it and it’s not always going to be the most popular thing that everyone is going to like. Hopefully, they’ll give us a little credit for sticking to our guns and trying different things. I guess what I’m saying is we learned a bunch of lessons that we’re probably not going to apply. (Laughs.) Obviously we love our audience and want them to enjoy the show, but we have enough respect for our audience to not always take the easiest route.
At least in the first two episodes, season two feels a little darker than season one, tonally. Was that intentional?
We’re always interested in trying a bunch of different things. It’s going to be a mixture of light and dark. There’s some dark stuff at the beginning, but I don’t think it’s out of character for the show too much. But things will get really fun. When you look at the pilot last year, there were some pretty dark moments in that too. To me, it feels like the first couple of episodes this year are somewhat similar to the pattern we set last year. Tonally, it’s going to be in the ball park of last year. We have some things planned that are as light as you can get and as dark as you can get. We’re excited for people to see that.
One of the best parts of season one was all the wish-fulfillment scenes you peppered throughout each episode. How are you going to top that this season?
That’s one of the most fun things about this show for us, thinking of those fun things that you can do. The other day we were doing this promo to run during football games on Sundays. You remember the margarita pool from last year? This was a nacho version of that. (Laughs.) It’s so much fun and it’s a good reminder, like, “Don’t worry about making things complicated. It can be so simple and still so funny.” We like doing moments that are more thrown away rather than make things bigger and crazier. That takes the pressure off.
Phil and Carol are going to head to the White House in the premiere. Is that where they’re going to set up their new home after the Tucson debacle?
Well, you’ll have to watch the show and see! (Laughs.) We are such a tricky show for our marketing department and PR because we want to hide as many twists and turns as possible. I know we frustrate them, but they do such a wonderful job in putting together these fun ads with the very limited material that we give them.
How would you describe Phil and Carol’s relationship this season?
They’re making a go of it! Carol had no reason to give “Tandy” a second chance. But she did and he’s as thankful as can be. He’s trying to be a good person and good husband. They still are two very weird and unique people that are very much an odd couple, so there’s still a lot of fun to be had in their relationship. But they are very much a couple now.
Jason Sudeikis is joining the show as Phil’s brother Mike. How would you describe his relationship with Phil?
I love Jason, and I think he’s just one of the funniest people ever. Mike has been up in space for a while and he’s going to have to make some big, scary decisions on what to do next. We are going to explore what it would be like to be up in space on your own, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not up in space forever. He’s an overachiever; I mean, he’s an astronaut where Phil was just a temp so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to say that Phil has always been jealous of the attention that his brother gets, but they’ll have some surprising things in common, too.
Are we going to see the Tucson crew again?
That’s going to be a mystery as of right now. I know I want to see them again, but I’m not sure how we’d do it since they all hate Tandy and banished him from Tucson. You’ll have to wait and see.
The Last Man on Earth season two premieres Sunday, Sept. 27, at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.
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