‘The Last of Us’ brings dystopian action and LGBTQ+ representation to the table

Graphic of some of the characters from the new HBO show, “The Last of Us.”

Paetyn Rector

Graphic of some of the characters from the new HBO show, “The Last of Us.”

What if an everyday ingredient in food, such as flour or sugar, was somehow tainted with a parasitic fungus that was rapidly spreading from person to person, transforming from monster to monster? In the video game “The Last of Us,” this is reality. The game follows an older, “father figure” like character, Joel Miller, and 14-year-old Ellie Williams on their journey to stay safe from this disease in a post-apocalyptic world. In 2020, HBO Max announced there would be a TV show adaptation of this video game.

The video game has five parts being “The Last of Us” (2013), “The Last of Us: Left Behind” (2014), “The Last of Us Remastered” (2014), “The Last of Us Part I” (2020), and “The Last of Us Part II” (2022).  

The show itself takes place in 2023, post-apocalyptic Massachusetts and follows their trek to Wyoming to find Joel’s brother, Tommy. Joel believes he’s in danger and wants to confirm whether his brother is alive or not. Ellie and Joel embark on this journey together as Joel offers to take Ellie from her previous caretaker in exchange for arms. Though, he cares more about her than he might have expected to. Throughout this journey, Joel and Ellie face an abundance of obstacles and near death experiences, but stick together through thick and thin.

Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, did a phenomenal job in this series. Her character was the perfect mix of humorous and serious in times where it was necessary to be so. Ellie is wise beyond her years, especially considering she’s so young. She is mature and witty and just about everything this show could have needed being as dark as it is. 

Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel, was a great combination of a stern, protective father figure, and a playful, sarcastic babysitter. His playful banter with Ellie brings out his softer side and makes fans love him even more. 

Earlier this year, the first episode aired, with the last episode coming out Mar. 12. Episodes were released weekly, premiering on Sunday nights. It was filmed in Alberta, Canada, and production ran from July 2021 through June 2022. 

The lighting was always very dark but with purposeful light coming through windows or skylights to enunciate some sort of emotion or epiphany. Joel and Ellie were often exploring abandoned places, and because of this the lighting was dim, but still managed to look stunning. 

Being an action-adventure show, it’s not necessarily heartwarming. It does speak on some more serious topics, though, such as grief.  Many characters die in tragic ways in order to build the foundation of the story. Characters lose their loved ones and learn how to grieve and continue to live. The heartwrenching nature that comes with this show will keep viewers without a dry eye but still itching to see more.

This show is definitely more targeted for a more mature audience, possibly one who enjoys dystopian films and video games. It’s a lot of adventure, action, accompanied by  some gore so viewers better buckle up. 

“The Last of Us” can be slow moving, but the representation that this show has piqued my interest. The LGBTQ+ portrayal, and depiction of deaf people and some of their culture is truly beautiful to see on screen. I would definitely recommend this show to the right crowd if they’re interested in gore, heartbreak, action, and a little more heartbreak. 

Rating: 4/5