Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My New Crafting Hero

I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction.  Nuclear war, pandemics, volcanic winter, asteroid collisions.  Even though it sometimes gives me nightmares, I am a sucker for stories of bands of scrappy survivors trying to move on after a huge catastrophe--the grimmer, the better.  (No zombies, though, because I want to read about apocalypses that can actually happen.)

This might not sound like a scenario ripe for comedy, but the new FOX sitcom The Last Man on Earth is just my kind of show.  Two years after a virus wipes out nearly all human and animal life, Phil Miller (played by Will Forte, one of my favorite comic actors) tries to carve out an existence for himself and stave off loneliness.  After criticizing the movie Castaway for Tom Hank's volleyball companion, he soon has a veritable social circle of sports balls with smiley faces drawn on them.

Soon, he finds out that he is not alone.  Into the scene comes Carol, played by Kristen Schaal.  I have been a big fan of Schaal since she was on Flight of the Conchords as Mel, an obsessive fan.  She is also the voice of Louise on Bob's Burgers, and I got to see her in their live show!

"There's really no wrong way to use a margarita pool."
Schaal brings the obsessive qualities of her previous characters to Last Man.  Carol is prim, shrill, and focused on details.  She insists that Phil continue to follow all pre-virus rules and social conventions, including stopping for stop signs and getting married before they repopulate the world.  Phil spends his post-virus existence indulging in destruction, playing with a flame thrower and bowling with aquariums instead of pins.  In contrast, Carol spends much of her free time making crafts.  She can be seen knitting and sewing in the backgrounds of scenes.  It brings to mind the Facebook meme, "Knitting:  It's not a craft, it's a post-apocalyptic life skill."  (I am afraid that if I were left with all the time I could ever want to craft, it would end up being a Twilight Zone "Time Enough at Last" situation.)

As the episodes go on, however, Carol's crafts aren't just a sign of her fussy nature.  They become symbolic of the way that she is trying to make the best of a bad situation.  She knows that Phil only married her out of desperation, and she puts a lot of effort into make it work.  Each stage of their relationship is marked by one of Carol's crafts.  She raids an abandoned craft store to get decorations for the wedding, and retreats there after Phil screws it up.  She bedazzles a pillow to inform Phil that he is being a jerk.

"You know how I feel about scrubs."  "You don't want no."
When Phil thinks he has finally worked up the courage to tell Carol the truth, he loses the will to end the relationship when he sees the door decoration she made for their house.

"Phil, you know the door symbolizes our marriage."  "I know, Carol.  I know."
When neither of them can ignore the reality of their situation any longer, Carol shows him the ugly quilt she made from found fabrics as a way of giving him permission to divorce her.

"It's time to fold this relationship up and put it in the closet."
Now that the characters are going back to a World Made by Hand, Carol's handmade projects take on a greater significance.
What are your favorite crafting moments from TV and movies?

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