This post contains spoilers for THE LAST OF US S1, the video game THE LAST OF US, and mentions of queer death.
Upon watching the season finale, I exclaimed to my wife: “I can’t wait to quit this show!”
See, I’ve played the game. I know where this story goes — although perhaps they’ll tune it, but I doubt it considering the adaptational fidelity they’ve taken on. (And I admit, goddamn, they did a brilliant job with that!)
The game, but especially the show, is just wall-to-wall trauma and I hate it. I’ve said it before, but I’m very over nihilistic media, and this is abso-fucking-lutely bleak and, apart from the LEFT BEHIND ep, I really wanted nothing to do with it.
I told my wife: I’m watching for LEFT BEHIND and I’m not even sure it will show up this season. Then it aired, and I absolutely glowed.
While neither Bella Ramsay or Pedro Pascal resemble their gaming avatars, they absolutely inhabit the roles. There’s not a single casting misstep here. Every character is amazingly portrayed to an astounding degree. It was utterly delightful to see Anna Torv (FRINGE) back on the small screen again. And the production design? They understood the assignment and A+ to all of them.
When LEFT BEHIND did pop up, as stated: I fucking glowed. I’ve noted this in prior posts, but more and more as I get older, I just want to see people be happy, and LEFT BEHIND is all about giving Ellie a joyful bit of reminiscence about a sliver of queer joy in her life. I realize that narratively, that often isn’t the most enthralling thing, although TALES OF THE CITY threaded that needle quite well.
I will note: I was immensely frustrated by the third ep. Was it a sweet, well-handled episode? Yes, yes it was. However — and I’m trying to not step up on a soapbox here, but it’s hard — it felt to me like yet another display of patriarchal bullshit:
“Oh, the male queers get to have a long, serene life (until it isn’t), but Ellie essentially has to kill her queer best friend not even an hour after her own personal queer awakening? That is some fucking horseshit right there.”
From the moment I moved to Chicago, I’ve always lived in queer spaces because they felt safe; they felt welcoming. (I’ll note that I do not identify as queer, but queer-adjacent. I’m just a weirdo, a misfit who has no real place, but this is as good as it gets.) And that’s a lot of what THE LAST OF US is about: aspiring to find a safe space and living normal, happy lives without feeling threatened.
However: I do keep having to move because these areas inevitably end up overrun by male toxicity, which has sucked. We currently live in what was formerly known as ‘Girlstown’ and it used to have one of the oldest lesbian bars, and it is the home of the show WORK IN PROGRESS, but thanks to capitalism it has mostly become ‘elder Boystown’ and it is frustrating because dudes — even queer dudes who have been inevitably been bullied in the past — apparently love to bully folks, even older weirdos like me.
It is a finely crafted show, but fuck. I’m so tired of miserabilia, I’m so sick of protagonists being pursued and having to run, and I’m especially aware of this very specific type of miserabilia. I first wrote: “It’s not you show, it’s me” before realizing that it shouldn’t be on me. People deserve better than this, escaping into fight-or-flight scenarios, real or imagined. People deserve comfort, and it’s disheartening that this is what culturally lights us up, even if it is representative of the constant fears of a fragmented society.