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Calling ‘The Last of Us’ a ‘Conservative’ Show Is Just Wrong

This is honestly a dangerous lens to look at media through!

Joel Miller (played by Pedro Pascal) in the third episode of The Last of Us

There are some hot takes that exist and I just don’t understand them. One I learned about today was that people view a lot of zombie/apocalypse media as leaning into a conservative lens because it does, in some way, validate conservative fears. I guess, on one hand, sure. But also, if you lived through the pandemic, then you know that conservatives would have been the first dead from a zombie disease because they’d refuse to believe it was real and focus on “saving the economy.”

And now that is happening in the conversation with The Last of Usspecifically in the episode “Long Long Time,” where Bill (Nick Offerman) survived in his own town because he didn’t listen to the governing body. That’s how he has his own life with water, great food, and freedom.

The argument is that those who were conspiracy theorists or doomsday sayers are the ones who would thrive, and not listening to their government would help them survive. But that’s not how I view what is happening in The Last of Us at all. It’s not the government as we knew it that is the FEDRA organization that serves as the remnant of government in the show; it’s a powerful body that has taken over, and I just see those as different things.

And now, in an opinion piece published by The New York Times, the argument is being made that the series is one that should appeal to conservative audiences. But I just don’t get that line of thinking.

The survivors are fighting a fascist regime

Arguing that characters are anti-government in a post-apocalypse setting is not, in my opinion, the same thing as the conservative outlook of the modern political scene. I think that it has more to do with the need to view media in a way that is that black and white. The series as a whole does not preach conservative values, and pushing that does seem to show a lack of understanding about the story as a whole, to me.

FEDRA is fascist. They will kill who they have to, and they just want to keep their own ideals safe. It is why there is so much anger and resentment towards them from people among the main cast and the revolutionaries of the Fireflies, and why people like protagonist Joel Miller are just using them to their advantage. To consider the entire series to be a “conservative” one is just wrong. It’s not a political thing. Instead, it is a show about surviving.

With how politically charged our world is, I just feel like it is almost irresponsible to suggest that. Bill having conservative leanings and potentially being a Bush-era Republican is one thing. Labeling the entire show as one with conservative values just because he’s not a villain is just, well, wrong. I think our obsessive need to label something as left-leaning or right-leaning has taken away the idea of understanding media as deeper than that binary and how we can break it down.

I don’t see The Last of Us as a “conservative” show, and I don’t think those involved would think that, either.

(featured image: HBO)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.