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The Last of Us Is "Y: The Last 28 Walking Dead Days Later" Excellence

With an impressive series opener, HBO's The Last of Us needs to learn to stop worrying and love being labeled a "zombie series."

So this is the kind of editorial you kick off with some disclaimers because you know going in that folks are going to take it the wrong way. The first thing I need you to know is that this isn't a review of Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin's Pedro Pascal (Joel) & Bella Ramsey (Ellie)-starring adaptation of The Last of Us that's debuting tonight. We have someone else running point on the HBO/HBO Max series, so their thoughts will be going live after the premiere. But to throw out a quick, 20-second review? The series opener is an excellent start, with our leads carrying the weight alongside an impressive ensemble. Okay, now with that out of the way… the second thing I need you to know? I get very protective when it comes to Television as both a medium and an art form, and that protective vibe was jacked up to a "Spinal Tap"-loving 11 after the whole debacle with Mark Millar and the series adaptation of his Jupiter's Legacy comic book series over at Netflix.

The Last of Us Is "Y: The Last 28 Walking Dead Days Later" Excellence
Image: HBO

Remember when Millar kept telling us how Jupiter's Legacy was going to be something different in the landscape of comic book series adaptations? That it was going to delve into serious topics that other shows hadn't? And then… it wasn't? Instead, what it became was a very pricey one-and-done. Because in an age when shows like Amazon's The Boys and Netflix's The Umbrella Academy already existed, maybe shitting on the Corn Flakes of shows that we're already producing quality wasn't the best move. And I'm getting that same vibe from the folks behind The Last of Us heading into its premiere.

Why is being called a thematic "zombie show" a bad thing? What's wrong with admitting that you might be treading familiar territory but in a way that makes the series unique? Instead, there's been almost this "we're better than that" approach that, to be honest, isn't exactly fair to the series because now I'm approaching it with a much higher (and unrealistic) expectation that's been built up in a way I never asked for. Now, I'm watching it not just to see if it's a good series (I could care less how well it adapts the game because I'm tuning in for a Television experience) but with a "scorecard" mentality to see if it lives up to the hype.

So I'll leave it at this: adapting the video game that first hit the PlayStation 3 in 2013, HBO's The Last of Us should inspire many of you to check out or revisit eleven seasons of AMC's The Walking Dead (2010-2022; comic book debuted in 2003), FX Networks' Y: The Last Man (2021; comic book debuted in 2002), and Alex Garland & Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002). Because the series pays serious respects to all of those works and others… and that's okay! Because that didn't take away from the show's ability to create a universe that I would want to be a part of as a viewer. Because even though it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it still makes for a smoothly thrilling ride.

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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