First the boredom hits, and then the depression. After snorting at Castaway and proclaiming he’ll never talk to a ball, the series skips ahead a few months to when Phil has a whole room full of various balls with faces painted on them, each with their own name. It’s hard to describe the humor here because it all sounds so depressing on paper, but trust me: It’s truly funny, with real belly laughs elicited by small things, like the way in which Forte can repeatedly yell “Dammit” for an entire scene and it only gets funnier the longer it goes on.
At the end of the first episode, Last Man on Earth manages to get even weirder — don’t read on if you want to be totally surprised, though I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum. At his lowest point, Phil runs into the last woman on earth. Carol (Kristen Schaal) managed to survive, too, and becomes a welcome foil for Phil. They are opposites who don’t exactly attract. At times, Carol seems to fall into the trope of being shrewish because she’s still very much into following society’s rules — she balks when Phil runs a stop sign or parks in a handicapped spot — and also nags him, trying to change his slovenly ways. But the sitcom largely manages to avoid cliché by ensuring that Carol is also funny, mostly likable, and very, very weird.
This inclusion of Carol brings up a second depressing storyline: These two unhappy people forming an unhappy relationship that they will essentially be stuck in for the rest of their lives. Again, it’s a premise that shouldn’t be funny, but Last Man on Earth does a splendid job making it so. The bigger question is: How can a sitcom possibly sustain these two premises for at least an entire season? I have no idea, but based on the three episodes I’ve seen, I have no doubt that Forte will pull it off.