HBO’s Gripping New Drama The Last Of Us Is An Emotional Tale Of Survival

By Rufus Punt | 16th January 2023
The Last of Us TV series

What does it take to survive the apocalypse? That’s the question new HBO TV series The Last of Us aims to solve. Based on the hit video game from 2013, the series brings together a winning team in Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal, Game of Thrones and Catherine Called Birdy’s Bella Ramsey, and the creator of the hugely acclaimed Chernobyl to tell an end of the world tale unlike any other. The series debuted on 15th January and has already received glittering reviews from critics.

The Last of Us TV series

The original game was considered a landmark in video game story-telling and a new benchmark for the medium, and one of the first to offer a narrative as thrilling and emotional as anything in Hollywood. Now, a decade on, the same story will be told in nine parts, chronicling the journey of world-weary Joel and Ellie, the teenager he’s assigned to help smuggle across the US. The world and society collapsed following the spread of a deadly fungal virus that turned people into crazed savages (you might call them zombies) and the remnants of civilisation try to keep things working.

It seems cliché to say in this genre that “the real monsters are people”, but The Last of Us TV series explores this idea in a freshly original way. Joel is hardened, but not some invincible superhuman, and Ellie acts just like a teenage girl would in this scenario, and bickers with the adults when she feels she’s being babied.

Along the way the main duo meet a cast of other survivors: Anna Torv plays Joel’s trusted smuggle partner Tess, Gabriel Luna plays his younger brother Tommy and Merle Dandrige plays Marlene, head of the mysterious resistance movement The Fireflies, who seek independence from the martial law imposed in the remains of society. Also featuring are Nick Offerman as survivalist Bill and Murray Bartlett as his fellow survivalist Frank, Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard as brothers Henry and Sam, and Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, leader of another revolutionary group in Kansas. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who played Joel and Ellie in the game, also appear in minor roles.

The Last of Us TV series
The Last of Us TV series

Franchise creator and head writer Neil Druckmann is also working on the adaptation, along with original composer Gustavo Santaolalla to give it a haunting score.

As well as its emotional rollercoaster of a story, the original game and its mini-prequel Left Behind and the sequel The Last of Us Part II were both praised for their LGBTQ representation in video games, and Ellie in the HBO series is lesbian, in keeping with the games.

Ramsey was cast after over a hundred actors were in contention for the role, with the Game of Thrones star calling the role “an honour” and promising that it stays true to the games, but “I have to keep a lot of it pretty quiet.” The series is coming to Sky Atlantic in the UK, airing live at 2 AM on 16th January. In a year with plenty of exciting TV shows, The Last of Us TV series could be one of the best.

The Last of Us TV series

The Last of Us starts on Sky Atlantic, NOW and HBO on 16th January

For more great shows this month, take a look at our January streaming round up

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