“The Last Man On Earth” betrayed its title in the very first episode.
If you haven’t watched the hilarious Fox show, now in its second season, that’s not really a spoiler. You can tell from any commercial that Will Forte’s character finds out fairly quickly into the series that he is not actually the last living human who survived some sort of massive viral outbreak.
I think “The Last Man On Earth” is the funniest and most creative show on television today. Every week the show surprises me as it adds depth to a seemingly simple premise and creatively increases the stakes for its oddball cast of survivors.
I also appreciate how the show has made the lead character Phil an unapologetic, unlikable jerk.
You see the show isn’t really about one man living alone on the planet. Instead, it’s a comedy about a man who thought he was alone on Earth but who keeps running into fellow survivors and finds himself falling into the same bad habits he did when the world was normal.
We get a sense that Phil was probably not all that likable of a person before the outbreak on the show happened. On most shows the apocalyptic circumstances of the world would change Phil in some way. He would get a wake up call on the life he was living and grow to be a better person from episode to episode.
Instead, Phil remains a terrible person even after all he’s been through. He’s still selfish and sex-crazed. He’s still a liar and power hungry. He’s still judgmental and cowardly.
Being one of the last people on Earth hasn’t turned Phil into a hero. It’s only confirmed who he was all along.
I think this is more like what really happens when we face life’s most difficult circumstances.
A lot of us hope that if we were to face some sort of traumatic life event that it would bring out some sort of hidden power and strength buried deep inside of us. We believe somehow we would rise to the occasion and change to be better people as we adjust to our new reality.
Sometimes that means we wait on our circumstances to change before we work on changing ourselves.
The truth is you cannot rely on your circumstances to bring out a better person inside of you.
If you’re a jerk to people most of the time, chances are a catastrophic chain of events isn’t going to magically bring out a better side of you. It will only reinforce the character that you already have.
I’m not saying people can never change their character. Quite the opposite. The good news is you don’t have to wait until you’re faced with a “Last Man On Earth” situation to work on becoming a better person.
For the true heroes in stories are the ones who were already heroes before they ever faced their challenge, the ones who strive every day to live and to love as if they had nothing to lose. Any traumatic situations they face do not increase their strength of character but instead reinforce it.
Rather than waiting on the world to change us, we should be working every day to become more like the people God created us to be.