Every day, I am begging the straights to be normal about men who kiss each other. The latest episode of The Last of Us seems to have caused many of them to lose their goddamn minds. The cause of their mass dissatisfaction? Two men having a loving relationship on an HBO show. As of the time of writing, one fourth of the ratings on IMDb are listed as one-star.
The third episode of The Last of Us expands on the relationship between Bill and Frank, two gay men who were living together at the end of the world. Players only got to meet Bill in the original 2013 game; Frank had been bitten by a zombie and was forced to take his own life. Their relationship in the game ended on a bitter note and was criticized as an example of doomed queer love that’s all-too-common in popular media.
The HBO show expanded on a different interpretation of their relationship. In the series, Bill and Frank built a home together, and got to meet their ends entirely on their terms. It’s probably the best ending anyone can experience during a zombie apocalypse, regardless of sexuality. The episode was universally praised by critics, who found their relationship to be both incredibly moving and a triumph over the original events of the game.
Unfortunately, bigots can’t appreciate a good thing. Many review bombers griped that the romance was a distraction from the leading protagonists. “We spent almost 50 minutes on a romantic story that doesn’t benefit the main story,” wrote one reviewer. “This episode had nothing to do with Last of Us,” complained another. First off, Neil Druckmann and show producer Craig Mazin criticized the tendency for video game adaptations to be overly faithful to the original. So if the HBO show doesn’t feel exactly like the video game, those creative decisions were made in order to improve the watchability of the adaptation. Secondly, the low rating is clearly disproportionate to the perceived cinema sin committed here.
Other review bombers were more forthcoming with the source of their discontent. “Again just another instance of the small minority of gay people exerting their influence in Hollywood to push their agenda on the world.” Ah yes, the universal gay agenda. That’s clearly why Bill and Frank are gay in both the original video game and the television adaptation. It can’t possibly be the prevalence of gay artists and the straight creators who are influenced by them. “A cheesy chapter, full of agenda and absolutely unnecessary,” wrote another. I don’t know, my dude. I think the queer kids who are struggling to see a future with themselves in it probably thought that it was necessary.
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Some of the complaints get deep into conspiracy theorist territory. “We know [it’s] so [the producers] can FARM on pink money with sex scenes and cheap romance.” God, I wish that pink money was prevalent enough to regularly fund an HBO television show. That would be really nice. It’s unfortunately not the world that we live in.
Cry harder, homophobes.