‘The Last of Us’ TV adaptation resonates beyond gamers

Streaming HUBMarch 13, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the HBO series “The Last of Us,” a fungal infection has taken over Earth, requiring protagonists Joel and Allie to traverse an apocalyptic scenario in the United States. Fans unfamiliar with the video games from which the series was adapted may assume that this is just another zombie show full of action and gore.

However, the story and characters have defied the expectations and garnered accolades from all corners. “The Last of Us,” whose first season ended on Sunday, has won over not only gamers with high expectations, but also people who don’t play video games. The series premiere attracted 4.7 million viewers in the US, based on Nielsen and HBO data, which was HBO’s second biggest debut behind “House of the Dragon”.

“No one could have predicted this, this reaction and how positive it has been and how broad its reach has been,” said Neil Druckmann, co-president of Naughty Dog and creator and writer of the video game. was released over a decade ago on the Playstation 3.

“And seeing a whole bunch of new people engage with these characters … and hearing how they interpret the material and what they like or don’t like, that’s really fascinating to me,” said Druckmann, who was also a co-creator, writer and an executive producer on the show.

The show explores relatable topics such as aging, grief, hope, and the search for parenthood. It’s not all about zombies – the infected create conflict, but are not the only antagonists, because worse and scarier things are lurking in this apocalypse. The emotional storyline and complex characters have resonated with fans outside the traditional genres the series fit into.

“I’m really scared of horror and zombie things and what not. Normally, I don’t watch that type of show,” said Victoria Jin, a 24-year-old law student.

Jin never played the game but started watching the show with friends; The third episode inspired her to stay invested, which explores the relationship between existentialist Bill (Nick Offerman) and his partner Frank (Murray Bartlett). The standout episode told a story of love and hope in a grim world.

Jin said, “It’s drama, it’s got a lot of heartbreak, it’s got human emotions and relationships, and that’s definitely what keeps me coming back to it.” “And like, come on, Pedro Pascal. I feel like that in itself should be enough of a draw.

The performances haven’t gone unnoticed by fans, who are already speculating about Emmy nominations for both Pascal and Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie (her character Joel in Disney Plus’s “The Mandalorian” Between his roles, Pascal has become a favorite of the Internet’s Papa).

Avid gamer, writer and filmmaker Michael Tucker explained that the show’s plot is simple, but the key to its success is the complex characters.

Tucker, creator of the YouTube channel Lessons from the Screenplay, said, “I think, because it focuses on those character arcs and relationships, and how the world of the story pressures them to pursue them, those things are really accessible and universal. “

The television format allows the plot and characters to develop slowly, unlike a movie. With video games played for hours, viewers are helped to develop empathy for the characters.

Video games being recognized as a form of storytelling is nothing new. Kim Shae, 26, isn’t a gamer, but she had seen the social media buzz around video games years before the HBO series was announced. She watched full playthrough videos of the game on YouTube and was immediately captivated by the story.

“The story is spot on on that game,” Shay said.

Video game adaptations are becoming popular in Hollywood. Netflix has had success with its own video game adaptations, “Arcane”, adapted from the online game “League of Legends”, and “Castlevania”, adapted from the gothic horror action-adventure video game series of the same name. . But at the same time, others have flopped.

Creating a successful adaptation isn’t as simple as recreating the game shot for shot. But getting the game’s creators involved in the project was something that made “The Last of Us” special. While Druckmann played a large role in the series, voice actors from the video games also starred in the show – including Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who voiced Joel and Ellie in the game. Druckmann said creators need to keep an open mind on what stays and what changes.

The show’s success was a natural partnership between him and showrunner Craig Mazin. In early conversations, Druckmann could see that Majin was a fan of “The Last of Us” and took the story seriously.

Druckmann said, “He acted out several times and thought about these characters, the relationships, and what they mean. And obviously it had a profound effect on him.”

As Hollywood looks towards more video games, Druckmann stresses that the love and hard work that goes into a video game should still be the main priority for its creators.

“It’s my love for video games, it’s paramount,” Druckmann said. “The thing that’s exciting to me is that we’re always trying to innovate, because the storytelling language of video games can be broader than any other medium.”

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