The Rise of Hit HBO Series “The Last of Us”


(Graphic by Eva Mayrose)

Eva Mayrose, Opinion Editor

So, you’re on your daily afternoon TikTok scroll and it seems as though you’ve been thrown down the rabbit hole after liking one video about the hit HBO series “The Last of Us.”  

Now, every other 15-second reel you scroll onto is a flashy, slightly provocative edit of the show’s lead actor Pedro Pascal. Before you know it, you can’t get enough of that one line he says in the film “The Kingsmen,” you know the one.

Though many have only recently been acquainted with Hollywood’s silver fox, Pascal has been in the spotlight for over a decade.  However, it was the videogame-based series “The Last of Us” that solidified his fame and fan base.  

“I’m a huge fan of Pascal’s work, ranging from Game of Thrones to The Mandalorian. I really like the way he portrayed Joel from the uptight dad to Ellie’s protector,” said junior Melina Acuna. 

Acting alongside rising co-star Bella Ramsey, the two illustrate life in a dystopian world after almost all life is wiped out by a fungus that drives people to insanity and turns them into real-life zombies.  

The main characters of the show, Joel (played by Pascal) and Ellie (played by Ramsey) are originally videogame designs created by Neil Druckmann while he was still attending Carnegie Mellon University.  The story idea was eventually bought off by “Naughty Dog,” a game developer who launched “The Last of Us”  in 2013 for Playstation.  

“I think what makes the show so different is the fact that it’s based on a video game. Typically you see “based on the book …” [but you don’t see] “based on the video game production …,” [as often], which makes it really unique. They are staying close and true to the game since no one ever likes it when the show/movie strays too far from the original,” said Acuna. 

The video game is categorized as an “action-adventure survival horror game” by Wikipedia, and the series lives by that description. With incredible special effects topped with a talented cast, creative director and co-creator Craig Mazin along with Druckmann were able to bring this previously 2D world to life on screen.  

“My favorite part of the series are the fungus monsters. They’re disgusting and nasty looking zombies that are really hard to kill,” said self-proclaimed critic and social science teacher Louis Harley.

The storyline follows Joel, a smuggler, and Ellie, a 14-year-old orphan whose lives are intertwined by the formidable conditions they have to face in order to survive. Though the show is filled with villains, plot-twists, scientific anomalies and monsters, the main aspect of the story that really captivated viewers was the bond between the two main characters. Joel and Ellie grow to have a father-daughter relationship and their loving relationship is what keeps them hopeful and going despite continuous setbacks.  

“Pascal and Ramsey did a fantastic job portraying their relationship on screen and made it feel so genuine. I loved watching them despise each other from the beginning to becoming fiercely protective and devoted to each other at the end of the season,” said Acuna. 

Though the show has accumulated a large fan base made up of fans of the video game and newer viewers, not everyone thinks the series is perfect.  

“My biggest criticism of the series is that although it’s a [fictional] sc-ifi story, it defies all reality. Eating 20-year-old cans of Chef Boyardee? Driving across the country 20 years after an apocalyptic event using 20 year old gasoline?” said Harley. 

 Fortunately the show’s praise outweighs the criticism significantly and people are already anticipating theories for the second season, anxiously waiting to see what Pascal and Ramsey have in store for their characters. 

“Each episode was entertaining,  well-written, and had everyone on the edge of their seat, and I think the next season will be just as thrilling,” said Acuna.