The Next Must-Watch TV Show
This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of CONNECT.
Knox Yoder (Saga)
In the world of video games, PlayStation exclusive The Last of Us has been hailed as one of the best games ever made. For years, many gamers have wanted to share the brilliance of the game’s story with friends and family that don’t play video games but have never had the chance to. Now, with HBO’s The Last of Us television adaptation, we finally have that chance.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the entirety of 2023, you probably know how well this adaptation has been received by longtime fans and newcomers alike. The series has taken the world by storm, breaking HBO Max streaming records and garnering high review scores from almost all outlets. This outlet won’t be any different, as this reviewer considers The Last of Us season one to be one of the best television shows in recent memory.
For those unaware, The Last of Us takes place 20 years after a nationwide pandemic caused the collapse of civilization, turning people into fungal-based, zombie-like creatures. The show follows the story of Joel Miller and Ellie Williams, two survivors whose lives become intertwined after Joel is tasked with escorting Ellie across America.
Coming in at nine episodes, The Last of Us is a masterclass in compelling television and adaptation. Many of the most iconic scenes from the games are lifted directly into the show, such as Joel and Ellie’s confrontation in episode six and the harrowing climax of the first season. Other scenes (or in some cases, entire episodes) are expanded from the games and introduce new plotlines. For instance, while Frank and Bill’s relationship is hinted at in the game, the show takes the entirety of episode three to focus on them and even changes their ultimate fate. While some fans of the game have taken issues with the creative liberties the show’s creative team has taken with the source material, I believe every change only enhances the overall story, adding to the lore of the world and presenting viewers with some real tear-jerking scenes.
Even with stellar source material and great writing for the TV adaptation, the show would have been a bust without a great cast to bring the show to life. Luckily, every single character feels like they were born for their roles. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in particular steal the show as Joel and Ellie respectively. They not only perfectly embody the characters from the games but also deliver heart-wrenching performances in every episode. The supporting cast, which changes almost every episode, also feels perfect, with standout performances from Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett, Melanie Lynskey and Scott Shepherd in particular.
While many video game adaptations are average at best and abysmal at worst, The Last of Us proves that adaptations of the medium can be just as strong on the silver screen as they are on your PlayStation. Through the TV series, millions of people who would never pick up a game controller for themselves were able to experience the brilliantly moving story of Joel and Ellie for the first time. With so many eyes on season one, HBO quickly renewed The Last of Us for a second season to adapt The Last of Us Part II. The series is likely to get a third season as well, however. In an interview with GQ, show creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin were asked if the second game would be adapted into one season, with Mazin responding, “No. No way.” So, it’s safe to say we have a few more years of Clickers and Infected in our future.
With stellar writing and acting, The Last of Us season one serves as a worthy adaptation of the original game. It has entered the lexicon of tremendous television series and is a must-watch for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic stories or compelling dramas.
Knox Yoder (they/them) is a first-year JET living and working in Ureshino, Saga. They have too many hobbies, including but not limited to binging horror movies, playing new and old video games, reading manga, and nerding out over My Chemical Romance. They enjoy visiting heavy metal and rock bars in every city they can.