'The Last of Us' Is Bleak, but It’s the Bleak You Need

5 days ago 25

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The Last of Us is bumming everyone out. Mostly because the HBO series’ juggernaut first season ended on Sunday, beginning the long arduous wait for a second season. But also because The Last of Us is really freaking sad. The series began with a man watching his daughter die, and ended with him shooting his way through a makeshift hospital to ensure another kid didn’t meet a similar fate. In between, everyone died or killed (or ate) someone, and short of some gay gardening, there were few odes to joy. 

And truly, despite chatter online decrying the show’s dour denouement, that was the point. 

Look, I get why curling up on the couch to stare at a big pile of bleak isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Banks are collapsingJoe Exotic wants to run for president—doubling down on your Sunday scaries with The Last of Us is not a choice everyone wants to make. But this is not a shortcoming of the show or its storytelling. It’s a matter of preference.

Also, despite the darkness, The Last of Us remains a form of escapism. Bleak as it is, it’s still fiction—fiction about a pandemic worse than the one currently raging that’s intended, on some level, to give viewers the opportunity to think about something else. Granted, it mostly makes them ponder what happens when humanity decides the only way to save a lot of people is to slaughter many more, but still.

In other words, The Last of Us&...

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