'Y: The Last Man' Showrunner Explains How the Show Will Address the Transgender Community
FX’s Y: The Last Man series, based on the comic of the same name, is set in a world where an apocalyptic event has wiped out every mammal with a Y chromosome except for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. While some fans have been nervous that the series will reinforce gender binary norms, the showrunner has made it clear this is not the case.
“Gender is Diverse”
Showrunner Eliza Clark explained her thoughts behind the show’s gender dynamics during a panel for Y: The Last Man at the virtual Television Critics Association press tour:
“What was exciting about the book was it takes this kind of idea that a world that is filled with mostly women — and the book is definitely sort of more skewed toward the idea of a world of women — that it’s not necessarily just a paradise because women uphold systems of oppression, like patriarchy and white supremacy and capitalism. And I think that there’s so much more that can be explored within that, because gender is diverse and chromosomes are not equal to gender.”
In the world of the series, every living mammal with a Y chromosome dies. Clark continued:
“Tragically, that includes many women. It includes non-binary people. It includes intersex people. But that’s also true of the survivors. And we have a world that is, I think, that is central to my understanding of the show, our understanding.”
The 10-episode series, which launches Monday September 13, 2021 on FX on Hulu, stars Ben Schnetzer as Yorick Brown, the one surviving cisgender man on the planet. Diane Lane plays his mother, Jennifer Brown, in an ensemble cast that includes Ashley Romans, Olivia Thirlby, Amber Tamblyn, Marin Ireland, Diana Bang, Elliot Fletcher and Juliana Canfield.
Updating a Beloved Comic
“One of the things I was most interested in doing with this adaption was taking all of the things I love about the comic book but also updating it,” Clark said. In order to update the comic for our more varied understanding of gender, Clark and her crew had to “blow up the binary”.
Y: The Last Man executive producer Nina Jacobson said that comic co-creator Brian K. Vaughan was “adamant” that he wanted his comic updated for contemporary audiences and made to reflect changes in views on gender since the series was published in the early ’00s. She said:
“I think part of what they both hoped for in handing it off, and Brian was always very adamant, like, ‘I will always be here when you need me, I really don’t want to be here any other time than when you ask me to be. And because I wrote this 20 years ago, at a different time in my life and in a different time in the world.’ And I think a lot of what infused him… was that it opened up the world so much more, in the ways that our world has opened up in representation. And the changing of the guardrails and the opening up of possibilities for a truly new and diverse representation of gender in all of its complexity is, I think, something that they very much embraced from the beginning and embraced in many ways.”
Y: The Last Man the comic was about identity and how our identities are shaped by cultural norms. With these smart updates, the series could be even more thought-provoking.
“I think every single person who’s working on the show, from the writers to the directors to the cast and the crew and producers, we are making a show that affirms that trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are non-binary,” Clark said. “And that is part of the sort of richness of the world we get to play with. I mean, the show is asking questions about what is gender, what is identity, what makes a man, what makes a woman, what makes a human being, and what are the parts of our identity that have been imposed upon us by society and what are the parts of our identities that are truly us?”
We can think more about identity (and go gaga for Ampersand the monkey) when Y: The Last Man hits FX on Hulu on September 13, 2021.
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