“The Last of Us” Franchise: Can Video Games Be Cinema? A Pretty Much Pop Culture Podcast Discussion (#64)

Your Pret­ty Much Pop hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Bri­an Hirt, and Eri­ca Spyres all played both The Last of Us, and more recent­ly immersed them­selves in the length­i­er The Last of Us 2, which has been gen­er­at­ing a lot of acclaim but also con­tro­ver­sy. Actu­al­ly, Eri­ca just watch­es her hus­band Drew Jack­son play these things, but he showed up to this dis­cus­sion too. Yes, these cre­ations of Neil Druck­mann with the Naughty Dog team are ground­break­ing, and riv­et­ing, but by design not nec­es­sar­i­ly “fun,” or there­by involv­ing much “play­ing.”

The fran­chise is osten­si­bly about a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse and an immune girl that might be its cure, but it’s real­ly a drawn-out dra­ma about loss, fam­i­ly, and the cycle of revenge… You know, in between run­ning around look­ing for scraps to craft weapon upgrades and skulk­ing around dri­ving shivs through the necks of numer­ous mon­sters and peo­ple.

We com­pare The Last of Us to oth­er zom­bie media like Walk­ing Dead, address the shift­ing points of view in the game (playable flash­backs!), rep­re­sen­ta­tion, fan and crit­i­cal reac­tion, the effec­tive­ness of the game’s mes­sage, and more.

This con­ver­sa­tion should work both for lis­ten­ers who’ve actu­al­ly played the games and those who are just curi­ous about what the fuss is about. There are some plot spoil­ers about the end of the first game and events near the begin­ning of the sec­ond game nec­es­sary to dis­cuss the nar­ra­tive.

Lis­ten to the offi­cial Last of Us pod­cast. For anoth­er play­er per­spec­tive, check out the Besties pod­cast.

Oth­er resources:

Learn more at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.