Screen Scene – The Last of Us: Look Out Awards Season

by Tabatha Golat – 

The year is 2013. I’m at home watching my sister play a new video game. The graphics are incredible, almost like watching a film. I’m not a big video game player myself, but the storyline is riveting and I am immediately mesmerized. I think to myself: “This would make a great film.” Fast forward to 2021 and the announcement that the game is being developed into a live-action series by HBO. The game? The Last of Us.

The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic series created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann based on the aforementioned video game. The series premiered on January 15, 2023 with episodes released weekly on Crave. I’m thrilled at the adaptation from game to series, and highly recommend this drama. Although at the time of writing only five episodes have aired, I can confidently say this is no ordinary zombie show. The adaptation doesn’t veer far from the game, a creative choice that undeniably strengthens the show.

The series opens with a chilling talk show debate during the late 60s where epidemiologists explain why we should be more afraid of mutating fungi than bacteria or viruses. Jump ahead to 2003 and we meet Joel (Pedro Pascal), a construction worker celebrating his birthday with his daughter Sarah and brother Tommy. Things seem idyllic – until they’re not. Without giving away too much, let’s just say the epidemiologists were correct and suddenly we’re in a world where human-fungi-zombies are a bigger concern for Joel than forgetting to buy his own birthday cake.

Twenty years later and the world is shattered, a mutated cordyceps fungus has swept the planet, killing billions and turning countless more into zombies. Joel navigates this grim new reality, having lost his daughter and been abandoned by his brother. He’s paired up with another survivor in a tyrannically-run quarantine zone when he accidentally stumbles upon a 14-year-old girl, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) who could very well be the key to saving humankind. Thus begins their journey to a safe zone where she can be handed off to doctors and relieve Joel of his chaperone responsibilities.

Despite the rough dystopian setting, there are many deeply-written characters and a beautiful side story that makes up most of episode three. The Last of Us offers much more than a caustic zombie series: it’s heartbreaking, human, and surprisingly genuine. Look out awards season – The Last of Us is bound to sweep through like a virus.

Looking for other recommendations from HBO? Check out my list below.
1. Station Eleven
2. The White Lotus
3. Chernobyl
4. Girls

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