The gender apocalypse is real. It is not an entirely random occurrence. It is not entirely of our own making. It is one of the most interesting, difficult, and at times frustrating aspects of our lives. So it is no surprise that there are so many stories of the gender apocalypse being told so many different ways, by so many different people. Each one is just as valid as the next. The fact of the matter is, the gender apocalypse isn’t just something that is happening. It is something that is happening to us. It is something that is shaping our lives, and our identities, and our relationships. And that’s why the gender apocalypse is something that deserves as much attention as it gets.
Henceforth, I will be referring to the gendered apocalypse as the Gendercide. This is not the first time the term has been used, but my research suggested that it hadn’t been used to describe the phenomenon to the same degree. The Gendercide is the systematic, violent, and intentional elimination of girls and women from human society, usually in the context of war and other conflicts.
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Following more than a decade of efforts to bring Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man comic book series to life, FX will premiere a TV series based on the 60-issue narrative next week. Since the comic ended in 2008, a lot has changed, not just in terms of media but also in terms of culture, in terms of both the narrative seen in comic book adaptations and the gender relations across the globe. The wait for this adaptation has mostly paid off, as the FX series manages to accurately recreate anticipated scenes while also adding other views on the disaster that go beyond the gendered apocalypse.
The world as we know it is turned upside down when a global catastrophe occurs in which every mammal with a Y chromosome dies a gruesome and bloody death, with the exception of Yorick Brown (Ben Schnetzer) and the capuchin monkey Ampersand, whom he was training to be a helper animal, dies a gruesome and bloody death. Every civilization on the world is obviously devastated as they try to go ahead without any males while simultaneously trying to find out how such a disease came to be, while Yorick wonders why he was spared from the earthquake.
At its peak, the Y comic series generated buzz about a potential adaptation, with the original intentions being for a film, as was the case with most adaptations in the 2000s. While viewers were understandably unhappy that they had to wait so long to see this tale come to life, the first episode alone demonstrates that this idea could never have been realized in a two-hour format.
Audiences are given a far greater understanding of the condition of society with the first episode than readers were given in the comic’s first issue. The audience meets Yorick, as well as his sister Hero (Olivia Thirlby), an EMT and recovering addict, and his mother Jennifer (Diane Lane), a politician coping with sexism in American politics and a divorce from her husband. Fans may know a number of other important characters from the comic series, as well as Amber Tamblyn’s Kimberly Cunningham, the president’s daughter. This first episode also reveals the most significant distinction between the novel and the TV series: although Yorick is undoubtedly an important element of the broader story, he is just one aspect of a bigger problem that affects the whole world.
One of the most significant effects of the series’ shift away from Yorick is that the lightness and aloofness he was often bringing to the plague-ridden world isn’t nearly as apparent, resulting in a more dismal and dramatic examination of the scenario’s aftermath. Yorick isn’t joking about being an escape artist or dealing with his own lack of maturity on every page, enabling the viewer to get a greater sense of how unsettling the situation is. While this will undoubtedly result in some narrative shifts in the future, the series’ first six episodes are marked by a subtle shift in tone that is much more noticeable than its effect on the plot.
Lane and Thirlby fully embrace the source material in order to do tribute to the multifaceted, capable, but suffering characters readers encountered in the pages of the novel years ago. Jennifer and Hero are no longer defined by their relationship with Yorick, and they are given more screen time to explore their triumphs and challenges, whether we’re witnessing Hero’s battles with addiction and remorse over her trysts with a married man, or seeing Jennifer accept the responsibility of becoming the leader of the free world, attempting to restore ba Kimberly Tamblyn, on the other hand, soon emerges as a star, dealing with the losses of her father, husband, and kids while also having to sit on the sidelines as a conservative who watches a liberal politician apparently destroy her family’s history. Fans would identify Kimberly as one of the many talking heads we’d see on social media, given the real-world political upheaval of recent years, but Tamblyn portrays her with a subtlety that doesn’t exactly inspire utter hatred.
In keeping with the unsettling familiarity that Kimberly would elicit in viewers, the world’s struggle to deal with this extinction catastrophe seems all the more frightening, as well as realistic, in 2021 than it did before the coronavirus epidemic. As showrunner Eliza Clark may not have intended for the story to adopt contemporary sensibilities, watching competing political parties vying for power while people struggle to function makes it all the more difficult to recover from a virus that has mostly eluded society’s top 1%. Of course, “anti-vaxxers” isn’t a new term by any stretch of the imagination, but hearing it used in the series makes it difficult to forget it was written and filmed before COVID-19 vaccines were even distributed around the world, which speaks not only to Clark’s vision for the series, but also to the strength of the ideas explored by Vaughan and Guerra.
The general idea of gender is another aspect of the series that can now be addressed with greater complexity than it could a decade ago. Although the first comic might have been simplified to “all the males die,” this series has a far better grip of gender fluidity and the idea that identity is much more than genetics. In addition to casting trans actor Elliot Fletcher as Sam, who struggles not only with the effects of the plague but also with the fact that testosterone resources are rapidly running out, the series also reminds viewers that many seemingly cisgender women were unaware of their Y chromosome, as they perish in the disaster. While these first six episodes don’t fully explore how your identity isn’t determined by your DNA, they do suggest that things aren’t quite as binary as the original comic suggested, though this is more reflective of how society has evolved than the original narrative being reductive or dismissive of such notions.
Y: The Last Man reminds us that, even how gender and identity have changed over almost two decades, there are still inequalities in many aspects of society. The Walking Dead has given us a world where the dead come back to life, while Avengers: Endgame looked at the consequences of half of the planet’s human population disappearing, but Y’s apocalypse doesn’t exactly fit into either category. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fair or equitable annihilation of mankind, since individuals with a Y chromosome continue to dominate the sectors that keep civilization running, a harsh reminder of the lack of development in so many areas. Viewers will be more interested in seeing Jennifer and her colleagues help the pockets of the population who are most in need of rescue when power grids are no longer being monitored and basic utilities have almost no one capable of carrying out operations, rather than seeing Yorick evade detection from women who will clearly be shocked to see that he survived.
The wait for Y: The Last Man to be adapted into a live-action series has been well worth it, since programs like Legion, Preacher, and Watchmen have provided much more sophisticated and nuanced interpretations of the source material than Y would have provided in earlier years. By expanding the world’s scope, we’re given a much more harrowing experience with fewer lighthearted moments than fans might have expected, with the source material serving as the overall blueprint that is still followed, but with flashlights being shone in previously unexplored corners of the concept. While there’s still a lot of space for the series to succeed or fail, these first six episodes are a promising and smart start for one of the most popular comic book series of the last two decades.
4 out of 5 stars
On Monday, September 13th, FX will broadcast Y: The Last Man on Hulu.
In a world where men and women’s lives are supposedly so different, it’s shocking how similar they all really are. In a piece for the Guardian, Dr. Jen Gunter tells us that, when it comes to our lives, we’re all pretty much living in the same dystopia:. Read more about y: the last man reddit and let us know what you think.
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