(Los Angeles) “Joel and Ellie, bound by the harshness of the world they live in, are forced to endure extreme circumstances and ruthless killers on a journey through post-apocalyptic America. »
By reading this synopsis of the American series The Last of Us, anyone who is not familiar with the video game from which the series draws its storyline could expect to see yet another series about zombies, in which the action and blood abound.
But thanks to its characters and storyline, the series has exceeded expectations and is receiving accolades from all quarters. The first season, which concluded on Sunday, was very well received by the video game community, but also by the general public.
The first episode of the series broadcast on HBO in the United States was seen by 4.7 million viewers, according to figures provided by the channel and the firm Nielsen.
“No one anticipated this, how positive the public reaction would be and how popular the series would be,” acknowledges Neil Druckmann, who is the creator of the video game that hit the PlayStation 3 over 10 years ago. years.
“And seeing how people connect with the characters, hearing their interpretation of the story and their likes and dislikes, that really fascinates me,” adds the co-creator, writer and executive producer. for the TV series.
Sure, the show is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but the Infected — as the antagonists are called in the story — aren’t the only ones making life difficult for the main characters. The series also addresses topics that affect viewers, such as the passage of time, grief, hope and parenthood.
The emotional plot and complex characters therefore resonated outside of fans of the traditional genres the series is set in.
“I’m a little scared of horror stuff, zombies and so on. Normally, I wouldn’t watch this kind of show,” said Victoria Jin, a 24-year-old law student.
But even though she never played the video game, she started watching the series with friends. By the time she got to the third episode, which explores the relationship between survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and his partner Frank (Murray Bartlett), she was really hooked.
“It’s all the drama, the heartbreak…there are emotions and human relationships. That’s really what caught my attention,” the student explains.
The actors’ performances haven’t gone unnoticed by fans, who are already betting on Emmy nominations for Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel, and Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie.
Video game adaptations are turning heads in Hollywood. Netflix has had success with its own adaptations Arcane, adapted from the online game League of Legends, and Castlevania, adapted from a gothic horror action-adventure video game series of the same name.
However, creating a successful adaptation of a popular game isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Unlike other adaptations, however, The Last of Us had one weapon in store: the game’s creators played a significant role in the creation and development of the TV series.
Even onscreen, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who voiced Joel and Ellie in the game, were cast to play other characters on the show.
According to Neil Druckmann, his partnership with his faithful sidekick Craig Mazin also has a lot to do with explaining the success of the adaptation.
“He played (the game) many times and he took the time to think about the characters and their relationships. It all clearly had a profound impact on him,” he notes.
However, even as Hollywood increasingly turns to video games, Neil Druckmann stresses that the love and hard work that goes into designing a video game should always be a priority for its creators.
“The love for video games is essential,” he recalls. What excites me is that we are always trying to do something new, because a video game story can explore much wider horizons than any other medium. »
In Quebec, the series is broadcast on Super Ecran and available online on the Crave platform.