Frank and Bill holding hands in The Last Of Us
(HBO)

Let’s Fact-Check Ben Shapiro’s Godawful Take on ‘The Last of Us’

Perpetually absurd conservative pundit Ben Shapiro loves to just talk. He’s talking nonsense, but he loves to hear himself talk that nonsense, and now he’s done it with The Last of Us. In a nearly 14-minute video, Shapiro went on a rant about episode 3 of the HBO series, which featured Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) falling in love in the midst of the world falling apart around them, taking a bit of a break from the series’ protagonists. It was a beautiful look into the difference that each person had in their outlook on the post-apocalyptic world, and It was very important not only to the story of The Last of Us but because it gave us a change to Bill and Frank’s dynamic from the video game the show is based on.

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Shapiro decided he hated it in a bout of obvious homophobia, and posted a frankly offensive video where he kept calling Bill “Gay Ron Swanson” and just would not stop talking about how he didn’t understand the show—not to say that was his intent, but this video showed a very horrible lack of understanding of what The Last of Us Is trying to tell him. So, I have decided to fact-check his video.

Is this because Ben “Facts don’t care about your feelings” Shapiro once went on a whole rant about an article I wrote, saying I was lying about his movie when he couldn’t tell the difference between a review and a simple opinion piece about a movie trailer? In part, yes—but I have also been forced into hearing Shapiro’s wrong opinions on things for too long, and if facts don’t care about your feelings, he won’t care that I’m fact-checking his “review” of The Last of Us episode 3 “Long, Long Time,” right?

In his video for The Daily Wire, Shapiro decided to talk about how he doesn’t know anything about the game (which … lol), then he proceeded to call the series a “zombie” show. They’re not zombies, Ben. But he also went on to talk some nonsense that I’ve seen parroted by other conservative talking heads—that the episode didn’t move the plot forward—and it’s almost as if they didn’t watch the end of the episode where it gave Joel and Ellie a car.

But let’s break down each of the “facts” he provided about the episode and why he’s wrong.

The Last of Us is not about zombies!!!!!

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

A common misconception about this show is that it is about zombies. It’s not. The game’s creator, Neil Druckmann, has made that clear. They’re infected. They are not zombies. Multiple times in this video, Ben Shapiro calls it a zombie show. He’s describing the Cordyceps fungus and doing a bad job of it.

Shapiro says that the show is about a “zombie apocalypse that essentially arises because fungi go viral, essentially.” Well Ben, the show itself explains what happens. The Cordyceps outbreak happens because it mutates to a new environment, that being humans, and takes over the mind of the person infected with the desire to make more Cordyceps.

That’s why they are trying to bite people and keep the apocalypse going. But they’re not zombies. They’re not trying to eat brains and walk around aimlessly until then. Shapiro also kept saying that there wasn’t a single “zombie” in the episode, and if we’re calling them that … that’s just false? The episode starts with Ellie finding an infected in the basement of a gas station. So … there are infected in this!

No one said it was the greatest episode of television ever made

Nick Offerman as Bill The Last of Us
(HBO)

A lot of Shapiro’s anger for a lot of this video was focused on the online response. For the most part, it was overwhelmingly positive. I did not personally see anyone saying it was the most important episode of television ever made, and in looking up reviews, most just share their love for the show and this episode in particular. But they’re not claiming it to be the best that ever was.

That’s Shapiro exaggerating, and sure, others have made the same point, but they’re not Ben Shapiro who has made his hatred and bigotry everyone else’s problems.

“Brokeback Zombie Farm” is important to the story, actually

Murray Bartlett and Nick Offerman in 'The Last of Us' as Bill and Frank
(HBO)

One of Shapiro’s overall talking points was that this story arc was pointless and had nothing to do with the show. First of all, that’s false, and we’ll get into it, but second, Shapiro just said a lot of nonsense about Bill before even complaining. He talked about the safe haven town that Bill had created and acted shocked that it was a town with “no zombies” in it. Well, that’s explained in the show.

There are areas that were more infected than others, and there were the bombings of bigger cities. We watched, in the beginning of this episode, what the Federal Disaster Response Agency did to survivors. I all unfolded in the episode, and yet, somehow, that just went right over Shapiro’s head? But going back to “Brokeback Zombie Farm,” Shapiro just was seemingly furious that “Gay Ron Swanson” and his arc was such a big portion of an episode.

Shapiro stated that the episode “did not advance the plot,” and I have a couple of problems with this—mainly that every episode of television doesn’t have to advance the main plot. Even still, this does have important points throughout that relate to the protagonists’ journey, so it is, overall, actually important to the plot.

Ben Shapiro is just mad Nick Offerman got some

Nick Offerman as Bill in the Last of Us 1x03
(HBO)

The entire video is yelling at about “Gay Ron Swanson” wanting to “nail dudes” and it’s gross, but it’s also just highlighting Shapiro’s actual problem: He doesn’t know what love is and hates seeing it onscreen. The episode itself is about how, despite the odds, the two found each other and chose to live a life full of love instead of fear.

“Long, Long Time” is meant to be a point of inspiration in the darkness of the show. Joel has chosen to live a life of sadness and fear post-Outbreak Day, and for the most part, that’s also what Bill had decided—that is, until Frank came into his life. We got to see their love, and it was something we didn’t get to explore in the first two episodes of the series, and for fans of the game, it was nice to have that change of pace where we got to see the happiness that Frank and Bill shared with each other.

Shapiro wouldn’t know real love if it slapped him in the face, and his bigoted response to this episode proves that.

He just lied about the episode a lot

Murray Bartlett as Frank in episode 3 of 'The Last of Us
(HBO)

At the end of the day, Shapiro just kept lying about this episode. He kept making things up or woefully misunderstanding what actually happened on the show.

Shapiro said that Frank “gets cancer” (he doesn’t) and then decides to “euthanasia” himself. Does he mean euthanize? I don’t think that’s the right form of the word. Anyway, that’s not what happened. Frank had MS or ALS, according to showrunner Craig Mazin.

“We didn’t necessarily want to specify [the illness] for the audience, it was either MS or early ALS but it was a degenerative neuromuscular disorder,” said Mazin. “We thought it was really interesting to think, ‘Look, Bill is older and Frank can literally run circles around him, he’s healthier,'” he added. “And then we jump ahead a number of years and it’s Frank who’s been brought low by this disease and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

That took me two seconds to look up, so Shapiro also could have just fact checked himself.

I loved the “Brokeback Zombie Farm” episode of The Last of Us, and I love it even more now that I know how mad Shapiro is about it.

(featured image: HBO)


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Author
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.