Zombies or LGBTQ+ People: Which is Scarier?


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Alyssa Hill

The Last of Us television adaptation has taken the world by storm in all its apocalyptic glory (or should I say “gore-y?”). As someone who has played and watched people play the action-adventure video game, I found the show quite tasteful in its take on the original story. The game had players controlling smuggler Joel as he escorted teenager Ellie across post-apocalyptic U.S.A. to deliver her to a group called the Fireflies, who claim they can create a cure for the disease since Ellie is immune to bites. It was easy to lose myself in the universe and form bonds with the characters of the game. Like all adaptations, there is room for producers to put their own spin on it. The Last of Us Part I is a 15-hour gameplay if you just follow the story line, but it can last up to 25 hours when you explore the environment and learn about the lore of the game. With the TV show, there will be nine episodes that range from 40 to 80 minutes, bringing the series to around 10 hours. Trying to condense at least 15 hours of solely storyline gameplay into 10 hours is surely a difficult task, but so far, I think that they have done a great job.

The biggest backlash that the show has received is from Episode 3 titled, “Long, Long Time,” with the description of: “When a stranger approaches his compound, survivalist Bill forges an unlikely connection. Later, Joel and Ellie seek Bill’s guidance.” The description remains ambiguous to the content instilled within the episode, which may be misleading to those who have not played the game and seen Bill, a grumpy ally to Joel. The show does end Bill and Frank’s love story very differently than what they got in the game; the way that they changed it allowed for a high-impact plotline that surprised and touched countless viewers. Me? I cried. The way I see it, they are focusing on the relationships that Ellie and Joel form along their journey, rather than focusing the whole story on just action and adventures. It is a drama series, so there is going to be mostly drama! If you want to experience the story with more action, and in more depth, then play the game. Or play it again.

In the game, Joel and Ellie arrive in Bill’s town and are only met with Bill, not Frank. Joel isn’t even aware of who Frank is. Bill mentions that he had a partner, and then says that caring for someone is “good for one thing: getting ya killed. So, you know what I did? I wisened the fuck up, and I realize it’s gotta just be me.” Frank didn’t like Bill’s survivalist rules and limits, stole some of his supplies, and tried to leave. Before he could make it out, he was bit by an infected Clicker (3rd stage zombie; about a year post-infection); Frank killed himself to avoid turning. The creators of the show took the chance to expand on an in-game relationship that did not get a lot of attention during the game and breathed life back into it. It allows the fans of The Last of Us to get an alternative ending to a story that feels true to the nature of the game.

A viewer of the show wrote in a one-star review, “The show has been an excellent adaptation of the first video game. Unfortunately, the waste of space that was the episode that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the storyline of the first game…which the producer admitted was nothing but an egregious ‘trick to get people to watch gay men’…was horrifically bad.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this. I would like to know where this person gets their sources. If you don’t like the representation of LBGTQ+ relationships in a TV show, then you don’t have to watch or support it. Don’t stream it. Change the channel. Leave the living room. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ characters in The Last of Us Part II are a key part of the franchise.

Representation in the media allows us to break free from the heteronormative society that has been set in place for centuries. If it was a love story between a man and a woman, the viewers who “hated” the episode might have at least liked it. The problem is that there are people who insist that everyone else needs to have the same beliefs that they do. The way they see it, if they don’t like the content that a show has, then it must be cancelled. Well, welcome to reality: The world does not revolve around any singular person. It’s crazy, I know. While bigots are left seething, those of us who like the show can sit back and enjoy it. The backlash that the show has gotten for simply telling the love story between two men is ridiculous, quite honestly. It is a show about zombies. It is not even real!

According to Insider, actress Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, says, “I know people will think what they want to think. But they’re gonna have to get used to it. If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you, and you’re missing out.” I agree with Ramsey. I’m a cisgender, bisexual woman in a relationship with a man. Even though our relationship may differ from that of Bill and Frank, so what? Our differences are what make the human race human. There are so many things to worry about that are happening in our world right now, and you’re going to deny who people love? Quit focusing your energy on denying queer-positive representation and focus on becoming a better person.