The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Warning: This author has included some spoilers for “The Last of Us” TV series and video games in the article below. Please be advised.
The Last of Us TV series has taken over the media in the mere 2 months it has aired. Fantastic acting, intense action, and post-apocalyptic drama? There was no way that this show wouldn’t take off, especially with it already being a popular video game. Where the two converge is where people speculate. Is the show an authentic representation of the iconic video game we know and love? Or has it diverged from the path of authenticity that so many “based-on” shows and movies do?
I do not claim to be the all-knowing “TLOU” superfan who can give you the baseline of what you should think, but I have played the game and enjoy the storyline very much. This is also your first and only warning that there are spoilers ahead! There is so much to unpack with this story and these characters which puts it leaps and bounds ahead of the next apocalyptic RPG.
The show stays on track with the two main characters of the story, Joel and Ellie. Casting-wise, I can’t think of anyone better to play Joel than Pedro Pascal. His look is exactly that which is in the game. His gruff look represents not only Joel’s physical likeness but also perfectly represents Joel’s struggles and inner turmoil. For Ellie’s character, Bella Ramsey is an amazing fit. Her youthful look and attitude match that of Ellie and her mindset. I can see a lot of Ellie in Bella Ramsey even out of character which just makes her on-screen performance even more believable. Not to mention the on-screen chemistry between Pedro Pascal And Bella Ramsey is nothing to overlook. They seem to have a father-daughter type of bond that is in likeness to that of Joel and Ellie’s relationship.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, the artistic designers for the show did an amazing job of making the different sets look believable and highly detailed. Seeing as they made entire sections of cityscape look as though they had been abandoned and overgrown for 20+ years is incredible and shows their dedication to making the sets as detailed as possible. Not to mention the zombies! The first time I saw a clicker on the screen I felt the same fear that I felt every time I saw one in the game. The fact that it was all makeup and prosthetics makes it even more impressive. It just goes to show how advanced film cosmetology has become.
Now onto the most important part; the likeness between the TV series and the game. The show almost always follows the main plot points of the video game, sometimes even going the extra mile to add story-lines and characters that you may only see in hidden letters found in the game. One example of this is “Episode 3: Long, Long Time” which tells the story of Bill, who is a present figure in the game, and Frank, who we only ever hear about in-game and never actually see. In the game’s story-line, Joel and Ellie meet Bill for only a short amount of time as he helps the two travel through the area he patrols. In the time we are with him, we don’t learn a lot about him other than his less-than-friendly temperament. In the show, however, we get to see a whole new side to Bill and how he survived in the apocalypse. The show also introduces us to a fully-round character version of Frank and his much deeper connection to Bill. This episode was a beautiful depiction of finding love in a hopeless situation and supporting someone you love through the hardest parts of life. Half the time I couldn’t see the screen because I was crying too much.
Another place where we see these extra details in the series is the mob that runs the Kansas City quarantine zone (Pittsburg QZ in the game) in episodes 4 and 5 of the show. In the game, this mob has no personality other than being a major obstacle for Joel and Ellie. While in the show, there are many fully fleshed-out characters in the mob where you can see their perspectives and understand their motivations. It makes it harder for the watcher to justify the killing of these people.
There are some moments though, that were in the game but didn’t make it to the show. I was disappointed to see that some iconic lines and memorable cutscenes were completely skipped in the show. I do understand however, that change between the game and the series is inevitable and that sometimes change is needed to keep even the most knowledgeable fans on their toes. For example, there was no use putting in all of the fights the players had to go through. If they did, this would be a much longer, and more boring series.
Overall, I believe that “The Last of Us” TV series is a well-done, and authentic depiction of the original video game that has hooked people since 2013. This is all due to the production team of the series following the story-line from the game very closely, and the immense detail that went into creating a believable apocalyptic world fit for a story with such a following. If you haven’t watched the show “The Last of Us” yet, I highly recommend trying it out. Also, if there is anyone like me out there who loves to play video games, especially zombie ones, I implore you to try the game for yourself!