When she was tapped as showrunner and executive producer for the FX on Hulu series Y: The Last Man, writer Eliza Clark knew fans of the popular comic book series the show is based on would have high expectations. But she also knew the 2002 story, by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra, needed an update.
For Clark, that meant rethinking how we talk and think about gender and diversity, including making the point that gender and chromosomes are separate, she says in an interview for. Y: The Last Man is about a worldwide event that kills everyone with a Y chromosome, "suddenly and instantaneously," Clark notes. The show is about what takes place after, where a cisgender man named Yorick Brown, a capuchin monkey named Ampersand (completely computer-generated) and a government agent named Agent 355 (played notably by Ashley Romans) work to unravel the mystery.
"Everybody with a Y chromosome dies, which includes trans people, it includes cis men, it includes intersex people, but the same is true of the survivors. And so our discussion of gender is a little bit more nuanced" than the original book, she says.
Award-winning actor Diane Lane plays a senator who becomes president of the US after the men in the leadership chain of command die. And if you think the world becomes a better place when it's run by women, think again.
"Part of what I love about the book is that it takes that premise of 'If women were in charge, there would be peace' and says, 'No, women are people and people are flawed, and there will be all kinds of different responses to this kind of event,'" she says.
Clark also had to reckon with other aspects of how the modern world is constructed.
"The problem is there's an intense amount of gender inequality in lots of professions right now. That was true in 2002, and it's still true," she adds. "Like 95% of truck drivers are men. And so I learned a ton about the way that our economy works. The fact that we have a just-in-time economy -- there's no storage, there's no preparation for the future. A city would run out of food in three days without deliveries from trucks."
Earlier this week, Clark announced on Twitter that while the show wasn't renewed for a second season by FX, she's committed to finding it a new home, saying "I have never in my life been more committed to a story, and there is so much more left to tell."
For now, you can stream all eight episodes in season one on Hulu. Listen to my entire conversion with Clark on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, and hear her talk about adapting the story for TV, about assembling a diverse crew and cast, and about having all eight episodes directed by women. We also discussed her current obsession -- which she says is finding out why the woman who owned her home before her turned the backyard into a pet cemetery for 150 cats. (I'm not making this up.)
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