Will “The Last of Us” make it past season two?

Krystina Slack

Representation is important when it comes to the media we consume. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in inclusion and diversity in shows such as “First Kill,” “Paper Girls’’ and “High Fidelity.” These shows have many things in common, including centering around members of the LGBTQ+ community and having a diverse cast. 

These shows also have another thing in common: they were all canceled after just one season. 

This is a trend we have been seeing over the last few years, but it has become very noticeable over the last few months, with many of these show cancellations happening back to back despite having high ratings. Now the question is will this happen to the current popular show “The Last of Us?”

“The Last of Us” has become one of HBO Max’s recent hits. The premise is that after a global pandemic of mutant fungus destroys civilization, Joel has to take a young girl named Ellie across the country. 

Originally, “The Last of Us” was a game first released in 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and has since been turned into a TV show that was released in 2023. 

“The Last of Us” is one of HBO’s most-watched shows, averaging 30 million viewers per episode, and it has already been renewed for a second season according to Deadline.

The show has recently faced backlash on Twitter and Rotten Tomatoes for centering episode three around Bill and his romantic relationship with Frank, while episode seven focuses on Ellie’s feelings and relationship with another girl named Riley. These two episodes are the lowest-rated episodes, due to the review bombing.

“Review-bombing — or when people deliberately give a show or movie a low rating to decrease its score on sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes — has typically occurred for racist, sexist or homophobic reasons,” Travis Clark, Insider writer, said.

It is never explicitly stated in the game that Ellie is gay, but she does have an ongoing romantic relationship with another woman named Dina. It is also never explicitly stated in the game that the character Bill is gay, but it is so heavily implied that GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) named Bill one of their most intriguing new LGBTQ+ characters of 2013 when the game came out.

Now fans are speculating whether “The Last of Us’’ will eventually be canceled like other shows that have an LGBTQ+ main character or storyline. Due to the popularity and viewership of the show despite the negative attention it has garnered online, many believe that the show will continue past season two.

At Augustana, many groups have taken measures to increase and support the representation of the LGBTQ+ community, including the preferred name policy, gender-inclusive housing, safe zone training and LGBTQ+ counseling and support groups among other things. 

In the media, an increase in representation leads to an increase in acceptance, self-worth and self-confidence in viewers.

Representation like this is not only important to the Augustana community but to everyone. Students being able to see themselves and feel represented is important for every aspect of life. 

As we continue to see these shows being canceled, it seems to send the message that those in the LGBTQ+ community are not welcome to be seen or heard. I think these things, however, will start to change as “The Last of Us’’ continues to grow in popularity and continues to pull in large viewing numbers with every episode.