The Fox Network sitcom The Last Man on Earth, wrapping its second season, started as a common childish fantasy: What if the world were ours to play with, no worries about how it affected anyone else? Will Forte as everylastman Phil Miller has fun with this premise, but very quickly the title becomes a misnomer as Forte's willful, envious, selfish character tries (and often fails) to build a healthy community with a wife and a bickering circle of companions.
Storytelling about a small band reforging civilization is always ripe for socio-economic theorizing. The most interesting lesson here is an unforced hallelujah to modern industrial capitalism. The survivors of the show's mystery plague manage to (improbably) continue thriving off the leftover wonders of our civilization, from packaged food to fuel and jet skis. The hidden message: The only way to survive outside the extended division of labor in markets is to still have free access to all it produced.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The Last Socioeconomic System on Earth".