HBO´s latest hit: The Last of Us TV review


Denny Müller

The harsh, post-apocalyptic environment portrayed in HBO’s The Last Of Us.

Max Spiegel and Tanner Kannan

After nine episodes, season one of “The Last of Us” came to an end this past weekend. The show has already been renewed for a second season, and viewership on the show has skyrocketed since its debut on HBO Max. 

“The Last of Us” is a show that is based off of the videogame of the same name. The show was created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann and stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Nick Offerman as Bill, Gabriel Luna as Tommy and Storm Reid as Riley. It tells the story of a post-apocalyptic version of the United States in the year 2023, twenty years after a mass fungal infection spread rapidly. Joel, a hardened survivor and smuggler is tasked in exporting Ellie across this post-apocalyptic environment. 

When it comes to my knowledge of “The Last of Us,” I know very little about the game, with the exception of the character´s names and that it was set around zombie-like creatures. When HBO announced they were making this show, I had all sorts of feelings about it. First off, HBO has an incredible track record with shows, and steers away from not cranking tons of content out at once like Netflix does. Since I had no prior experience with the video game, I didn’t have any real excitement for the show until they announced that Craig Mazin was going to be the showrunner. Craig Mazin has been kind of a forgotten screenwriter for writing films such as “Superhero Movie” as well as being the co-writer for “The Hangover Part II” and “The Hangover Part III.” Mazin didn’t receive much success until 2019, when he wrote the limited series “Chernobyl.” Compared to the movies he had previously written, “Chernobyl” got rave reviews from critics and audiences, and I consider this to be the greatest limited series ever made. So, when he was hired to be the showrunner, along with the creator of the game Neil Druckmann, I started getting really excited about this show. 

With that being said, I thought that this season of ‘The Last of Us’ was one of the best seasons of a television show that I have ever seen. This show did what very few video game adaptations could do, staying faithful to fans of the game while also being accessible to people who have never played it before. From start to finish, the show perfectly captures what made the original source material work so well, both from the incredible performances across the board as well as the world building. The chemistry between Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie was the glue that held this show together. Both of them have such a strong screen presence, and together that made for one of the best duos I’ve seen in a TV show in a while. 

Beyond chemistry, the usage of practical effects for the zombie-like creatures, known as the clickers, were all really well done. I was glad to see that the creators didn’t go with CGI, since TV shows have a significantly low budget and CGI in most TV shows often isn’t great. The show is very dialogue heavy which normally can come across as boring, but the dialogue and the character interactions are where the show’s strong points.  

The only real criticism that I have of the show is that I wish that there were more action sequences with the clickers. While I thought the design of the clickers was really well done, I don’t feel they had quite enough screen time. 

The action sequences that were present in the show were captivating and really cool to see, however, it felt like the aspect with the clickers was a tease for what’s to come with later seasons. 

However, “The Last of Us Part II” is a very polarizing game, which could lead to a very large divide between the fanbase for later seasons. The divide is perfectly split down the middle, receiving a rating of three stars. Some fans claim it is a masterpiece of a game, but others say it is the worst game ever made. If you ask me, they’re just upset that their favorite character got killed off. I don’t know if the team behind the show is going to translate the video game exactly, but if they do, it is likely to stir up controversy.

Overall, this show is what other video game adaptations going forward should pull inspiration from. Making video game adaptations faithful to the games, while also having an appeal to broader audiences. I loved the season and this might become my favorite show to come from 2023 so far.