FYC: Kristen Schaal in ‘Last Man on Earth’

Confession: I hated Kristen Schaal’s character Hazel on 30 Rock. So much so that I pretty much tuned out that season (and the last one for that matter). Her character was grating, conniving, and just didn’t fit in with the cast.

The funny thing is that one could use the same description to describe Schaal’s character Carol on The Last Man on Earth, except somehow it just works. Maybe because it’s just a better role for the comedienne, showcasing her strength in timing and vulnerability as an actress.

As Carol, Schaal plays the foil to Phil (Will Forte) in the opening episodes of TLMOE, the first woman he meets (and subsequently marries) after two years of solitude. She’s nagging, pushy, and manages to make Phil’s life a living hell.

But yet she also makes him a better person and gets him to grow up a little in spite of his hoarder’s-delight-of-a-house and toilet pool. You hate her and how un-fun she can be (who wouldn’t want to run through all of the stop signs and disobey traffic rules in the apocalypse?), but oftentimes, you know she’s right (after all, they did end up nearly killing January Jones’ Melissa when they failed to come to a complete stop).

The Last Man on Earth is a little TV anomaly. How does a comedy about the apocalypse manage to be funny and maintain an audience (it’s a surprise hit of the spring season)? Part of the answer may lie in star and producer Will Forte and his comedic risks, but this Last Woman on Earth is just as crucial to keeping the whole thing going.

As Mary Steenburgen said in the “Tandyman Can” episode, after Carol bagged the new hottie on the block, “To Carol. Lucky b-word.”

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