“The Last of Us” Season 1 Review


HBO’s stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey

Kevin Caffrey, Writer

The Last Of Us premiered on HBO and HBO Max on January 15, 2023. 4.7 million viewers tuned in to catch the first episode, making it the second biggest debut for an HBO show (Number 1 being House of The Dragon.)

Episodes premiered weekly until the season finale on March twelfth, which garnered 8.2 million viewers.

The show was based on the hit series of PlayStation games. Despite being a commonly joked-about curse that any filmed adaptation of a video game is doomed to fail miserably, this show beat the odds and gained widespread acclaim from critics and diehard fans. Despite several changes to the source material, most fans of the games agreed that the ones made enriched the story.

The show stars The Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal, alongside Game of Thrones star Bella Ramsey. The two have an effortless chemistry that serves as the show’s true heart. Pascal nails the role of Joel, a grizzled man just trying to make his way through the unforgiving post-apocalyptic world he finds himself. This is contrasted by Ramsey’s Ellie, a plucky teenage girl who manages to befriend Joel. It is very hard for both writers and actors to write teenagers in a way that is not patronizing to the audience or downright inappropriate, and yet this show manages to get it just right.

The production design and cinematography of this first season were absolutely spectacular. Most would agree that the show’s physical aspects were on the same level as the average blockbuster film. Much of the zombie makeup and special effects were done practically, which was refreshing compared to most other shows or films that would have used computer-generated imagery more easily.

The show itself garnered some controversy with the alt-right side of the internet for its portrayal of LGBTQ characters. Ellie is shown as openly lesbian, and the third episode is devoted to the love story of two men named Bill and Frank. Although there was a loud minority of people complaining about these aspects, most agreed that such complaints were both ridiculous and offensive. The episode in question (Season One Episode 3, “Long Long Time”) was perhaps one of the greatest pieces of art ever produced for the small screen and certainly the season’s highlight. Despite being disconnected from the overarching storyline of the rest of the season, it still carried the true themes of the show forward. It also featured two Emmy-deserving performances from Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett.
All in all, season one of The Last Of Us perfectly walked the tightrope between exhilarating action and heartfelt emotion. A second season is confirmed and expected to release some time in 2025.