The Last of Us Effect Is Coming to TV—and That's Bad
The smash hit’s influence will spawn some great TV—and many dismal imitators.
Everyone knows about The Last of Us now, and everyone knows it’s great. What not everyone knows about just yet—though they will—is the complicated range of effects its source text has had over the last ten years on the “AAA” video game industry and, in particular, games criticism. The HBO series has widely been hailed as The First Truly Great Video Game Adaptation™ in live action, blowing away the expectations of the non- or casual-gaming public who, as entertainment journalists and cringey TikToks seem to suggest, apparently thought video games were all still Pac-Man.
The latter assumption is familiar to lifestyle gamers who have for decades been used to various flavors of condescension about their pastime, both from outside the world of gaming and within. For an incredibly exhaustive exploration of this, allow me to direct you to this three-hour “review” of Pac-Man—both the entire game franchise, and the very cultural concept—by video gaming’s inarguable great auteur of riveting personal essayism and pathologically in-depth analysis.
This celebration of The Last of Us as the first great “video game movie” is another sentiment that comes as less than a surprise to many seasoned gamers. Though any adaptation can of course be done poorly, in some ways this feels like it was always the franchise’s destiny: we who were there already knew that the original TLOU was itself hailed as at least the fourth or fifth First Truly Cinematic Video Game™. (The correct answer is, of course, the original Metal Gear Solid.)
The rest of this article is available for FREE in its entirety over on TV Obsessive. TVObs is one of many branches shooting off from the wonderful all-Twin Peaks blog 25 Years Later. This piece is the first entry in a new regular column, Sin's Soapbox, in which every Friday I’ll be critically examining the TV I’m watching or thinking about each week, sometimes focused on current trending series and sometimes not.
Enjoy the TLOU article, and bookmark that column link to keep tabs on future essays.
Over on social media, my renewed passion for critposting persists; over the last seven days, I’ve posted more than an average of a film review a day. Some of the highlights have included the tail end of my Oscar-season catchup, like gutwrenching French boyhood drama Close, stirring Nan Goldin documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, shockingly incredible Bill Nighy vehicle Living, and a brief comment on each Oscar-nominated short film currently available online. Post-Oscars, I’ve covered some gonzo horror films this week, like the weirdly bittersweet Malignant-like M3GAN and Guillermo del Toro’s bittersweetly weird first feature Cronos.
For those who just can’t enough of my bullshit, I’ve also revamped SinistraBlack.com.
Now that I’ve got Sin’s Soapbox as a regular bully pulpit that’s bigger than just social media, expect future newsletter blasts to center the column like this one did. As always, thank you for being a member of this weird little futuristic family—and please feel encouraged to share my writing and support this project on Patreon, where I have fun benefits on offer and receive a better cut of subscription fees than on Substack.
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Forever ya girl,
SINISTRA BLACK (she/her) is a Los Angeles-based writer-director, Transgender Anarchist killjoy, and Void witch. Find all of her platforms right here.
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