The Last of Us Review by Matt Maushard

Rarely does a film or television show make me think about the vast possibilities of storytelling. We live in a time where many large studios and production companies choose not to take risks in their entertainment; they create sanitized material that goes down easily and is accessible to everyone. This is not that kind of story. The Last of Us, produced by Greg Spence, is a post-apocalyptic drama TV series. It takes place in a zombie apocalyptic setting, seen everywhere in modern horror and action media. It tells the story of Joel, played by Pedro Pascal; a rugged man who has lost himself and his morals to the apocalypse, and Ellie, played by Bella Ramsay; who is a loud-mouthed fourteen-year-old girl.

I had been waiting for a while for this series to come out on HBO Max, as many of my friends love the game that this series is based on. I was extremely skeptical when watching this originally, as video game adaptations are usually poorly done and devoid of any interesting storytelling, but I was surprised by how enveloped I was in the story of the show. Although there are only three episodes out so far, I can already tell that the show will be a masterpiece.

For a show that takes place in an extremely oversaturated sub-genre of gritty zombie survival media, it is undeniably unique. The major problem that confronts many zombie shows and films is that they rely too much on basic shock value and revel in their grittiness rather than utilizing it for their story. The Last of Us does not follow this trend. This series is extremely smart with its writing. Every choice of character and event feels important. It almost feels like you are living in the moment with the characters in the story. Instead of relying on shock value for its writing, the television show develops characters that are complex and truly human, allowing viewers to sympathize and understand. The relationship between the two main characters is very complex, but also relatable despite the difference in the setting from our own.

Furthermore, the show is smartly written. It’s almost as if it offers a new experience to people who have played the original games. For those who are concerned, it still closely resembles the original content. As someone who had never heard of the game before a month ago, other than in advertisements, I was aching for content related to the show. I watched ten-year-old play-throughs just to get caught up on the story and satiate my desire for a new episode, and the extra background information on the game has made me appreciate the show more. The changes made for the series only exist as improvements to the story of the game.

Every episode leaves me with a feeling of excitement and dread for the next episode as I hope the next episode will be as good as the last. So far, that has been the case. If you are just looking for something fun and action packed to watch, this is not your show. This series explores deep parts about what makes us human and the flaws within us all. It is not the easiest show to watch by any means, and it will make you feel and think like someone inside their world. Coming from someone with very little information on the source material, I have to admit it has made me cry twice. If you are like me, you will adore this show. I eagerly await the next episode. 10/10, I’d gladly give my kidney to this show if necessary.