With The Last Man on Earth closing out its second season and renewed for a third, Fox’s hit comedy is currently top of the network’s game. This past season, the show has evolved through location changes, cast expansion, surprise guest stars and creator Will Forte’s decision to stand aside as showrunner—a choice Forte says didn’t change his experience all that much. “I thought I would have a chance to have a little bit more of a life doing the second season,” he says, “but I’m too much of a control freak I guess.”
And with streaming services offering more creative freedom than networks—or even cable shows—have enjoyed in the past, Fox has gamely kept up with this brave new TV world. As Forte says, “content-wise they’ve allowed us to do just as many kind of weird risky things as we would’ve done if we were on a cable channel.”
There are so many gems in this second season—Will Ferrell’s guest spot to name one. Do you have any personal favorites?
Well, there are so many favorites. I just love the people I work with so much, you know. It’s an embarrassment of riches to get to work with Kristen Schaal and Mel Rodriguez and Mary Steenburgen and Boris Kodjoe and Cleopatra Coleman and January Jones, but then to get to bring Jason Sudeikis into the mix, you know, we’re like brothers from all that time we spent together. So, to get to have him be back in my life in that way after we traveled so much road together was a really special experience. I’m so excited that Will Ferrell came and did that part and Fox was really good to us to let us do that episode that was basically just Jason alone with Mark Boone Junior.
One of my other favorites was just how we ended the first chunk of shows in the second season with Mary doing surgery on Boris and cutting that together with Jason hurtling through space towards Earth. That was an exciting thing for me because you know, we’re doing just a little dumb comedy, but I felt like it was a really cool thing to get to stretch and do a kind of different mode. There wasn’t a single joke in that fourth act of the tenth episode, so I was really proud of that show and excited that Fox would let us do something like that, and it seemed like the viewers were okay with us doing it too.
How much creative leeway did Fox give you in general?
Well, I definitely think that we got into the situation with Fox at exactly the right time for a weird show like this, because when we came up with the idea for the show we definitely felt like it seemed more of like a cable-type idea. I think at that time there were just so many amazing shows on the cable channels that were pushing the boundaries, and I think that we got in there at the right time so that Fox wanted to try something that might be more cable-like. We haven’t changed the show at all because it’s on Fox. We might have thrown some swear words in. In fact, for sure we would throw some swear words in there.
What are some takeaway lessons learned from Season 2?
You just get to know the characters better. You get to know the process better, which makes everything so much more efficient. You get to know the actors better, the writers. We have just a really delightful group of people involved in the making of the show from the writers’ room to an awesome crew. Everyone just gets more and more comfortable with each other. I feel like we grew as storytellers in that second season.
That karaoke duet of Falling Slowly with Sudeikis—how much rehearsing did that take?
What people might not know is that we do so much karaoke, we sing that song with each other all the time. When we lived in the same city we’d go to karaoke, just the two of us, and just sing together. I went to New York a week-and-a-half ago and we went to dinner, and sure enough we ended up at karaoke. We are just karaoke buffoons.
What’s your favorite duet other than Falling Slowly?
We love doing Always and Forever. I Can’t Fight This Feeling is one that we do a lot.
What’s up next for Season 3?
I don’t know. It’s going to be tricky because we love trying to keep people guessing where the show’s going to go, and so now it just gets harder and harder. Once you’ve covered more territory it gets harder to find another way to do that, but we’ve got just a really wonderful group of friends who are awesome writers that will hopefully figure out something exciting.