It’s been almost two years since Last Man On Earth—a fanciful Fox sitcom in which we all chuckled merrily at the idea of a global pandemic totally destroying the fabric of our planetary society—aired its last episode, giving us a typically bonkers cliffhanger to send Tandy et. al out on. Since then, star Will Forte has been working on that MacGruber TV series, and also, presumably, doing what everybody else has done, i.e., praying to the big Mask God in the sky to keep the death particles out of our lungs.
People have noticed, though, that the show—which begins in 2020, well after a virus has knocked the human population down to handfuls of folks—does have certain similarities to our current world situation, from Tom Hanks being one of the first people to contract the resident sicknesses in both realities, to scenes that take place during the early days of the pandemic that show guest star Kristen Wiig dosing herself with hand sanitizer and constructing her own makeshift hazmat suit to go grocery shopping. Observer did an interview with Forte about all the show’s spooky predictions this week, with the former Saturday Night Live star noting that jokes about improvised PPE, especially for nurses, were “a sad thing to get right.”
Forte also discussed the minor pangs of guilt he feels over spending four seasons making light of something with so much potential for real-world tragedy:
It was very interesting to be in that headspace for four years and then to have a couple years away from it gave a little bit of perspective. It was a scenario I felt kind of close to. Obviously in our show we took it to a crazy extreme where most of the people on earth died. Thank God, it’s looking like the world is not going to suffer that. This massive amount of casualty is so heartbreaking. There is a little bit of guilt that I feel for having fun with it. We just thought this is a situation that would never happen with the scientific advancements that we have today. I look back now and certainly we took it to an exaggerated point. It’s never going to be a situation where seven people live and everyone on earth dies, but still you feel guilty. My heart goes out to everyone who lost people. Sorry that we used this premise for four years of making these jokes.
Forte says that he and some of the show’s other writers also passed a few group emails around, noting the similarities to their show. Including one other element from that Kristen Wiig episode: “Even us dumb comedy writers knew people should be wearing masks.”