The first season of The Last of Us, a highly anticipated HBO series co-created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, debuted to record-breaking viewership numbers, making it the network’s second-best premiere in the last decade.

The show’s success led to an immediate renewal for a second season. The series, based on the hit video game franchise, features new elements, including a significant focus on Ellie’s (played by Bella Ramsey) sexuality, which has sparked discussions about the importance of queer representation in mainstream media. Ramsey recently shared her thoughts on the topic in an interview with L’Official.

The Last of Us
Ellie, The Last of Us

“I definitely connected with it and it was really exciting to me. I remember the character description that came through in the initial email about Ellie. Part of what Craig wrote in her description was that ‘she’s gay and she doesn’t care,’ or I think the actual words were ‘doesn’t give a fuck what you think.’ I just loved that from the get-go,” Ramsey said. “It was really nice to have two really queer episodes. Like, gay people exist, so why shouldn’t they exist in the apocalypse? I really liked that it didn’t feel tacked on. It was so integral to this story, and so organically done, that it didn’t feel like, Oh, we’re just putting in these queer people for representation. This is the story, and it’s just a story of two people loving each other, and it was really beautiful.”

The Last of Us: Mazin Calls it the Greatest Video Game Story Ever Told, and an All-Star Cast Joins the Series

Mazin, the acclaimed producer of the hit HBO series “Chernobyl,” teamed up with Druckmann, the mastermind behind the popular video game franchise, to bring “The Last of Us” to life on the small screen. In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Mazin declared the series to be the most outstanding video game story ever created. He praised the relatable characters of Joel and Ellie for their “everyday hero” quality, which is rarely found in video games. Mazin was profoundly moved by the emotional depth of the story and the ability of the show to evoke powerful sentiments, a feat that he had never witnessed before despite his long-standing passion for video games since 1977.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us

The Last of Us boasts an all-star cast featuring Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Anna Torv as Tess, Nico Parker as Sarah, Murray Bartlett as Frank, Nick Offerman as Bill, Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, Storm Reid as Riley, Merle Dandridge as Marlene, Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, Lamar Johnson as Henry, Keivonn Woodard as Sam, Graham Greene as Marlon, and Elaine Miles as Florence. Fans will also be thrilled to see Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, who voiced Ellie and Joel in the original video games, making a special appearance in the show.

The entire first season of The Last of Us is currently available for streaming on HBO Max. The season consists of nine episodes, which will be released on a weekly basis.