Marin Independent Journal

`The Last of Us' TV adaptation resonates beyond gamers

- By Karena Phan

In the HBO series “The Last of Us,” a fungal infection has taken over Earth, rendering the United States an apocalypti­c landscape protagonis­ts Joel and Ellie need to traverse. Fans unfamiliar with the video game, from which the series was adapted, might assume this is just another zombie show packed with action and gore.

However, the story and the characters have subverted expectatio­ns and received praise from all corners. “The Last of Us,” whose first season concluded Sunday, has not only won over gamers with high expectatio­ns, but also people who don't play video games. The series premiere drew 4.7 million viewers in the U.S., based on Nielsen and HBO data, making for HBO's second-largest debut, behind “House of the Dragon.” HBO said the finale drew a series high of 8.2 million people, despite airing against the Oscars.

“No one could have anticipate­d this, this reaction and how positive it's been and how broad it's been in its reach,” said Neil Druckmann, Naughty Dog copresiden­t and the creator and writer of the video game, whose critically acclaimed first installmen­t was released on Playstatio­n 3 a decade ago.

“And to see a whole bunch of new people connecting with these characters … and hearing how they interpret the material and what they like or not like, it's just been really fascinatin­g to me,” said Druckmann, who was also the cocreator, writer and an executive producer on the show.

The show explores relatable themes like coming of age, grief, finding hope and parenthood. It's not all about zombies — the Infected create the conflict, but aren't the only antagonist­s, for there are worse and scarier things lurking in this apocalypse. The emotional plot and complex characters have resonated with fans outside the traditiona­l genres the series fits into.

“I'm actually kind of afraid of horror and zombie things and whatnot. Normally, I wouldn't watch that type of show,” said Victoria Jin, a 24-year-old law student.

 ?? HBO VIA AP ?? Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal star in “The Last of Us.”
HBO VIA AP Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal star in “The Last of Us.”

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