Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Last of Us episode 7!
The Last of Us has had to put up with its fair share of homophobic trolls over the years. But while HBO’s adaptation continues to rack up praise as one of the best new shows of 2023, an unfortunate byproduct of TV having a broader reach than video games is that it’s causing the franchise to experience bigotry on a much larger scale.
Several viewers have already turned out in droves to review-bomb the series’ critically-acclaimed third episode due to its depiction of gay characters. And this trend seems poised to resume with last night’s episode 7, which introduced Ellie’s one-time love interest, Riley (Storm Reid) via flashback. Regardless, Reid has a message of her own for all the haters out there.
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Last night, fans were treated to a live-action retelling of Left Behind, a Last of Us DLC expansion released in 2014. The storyline revealed how Ellie got infected with the Cordyceps virus. It also showed her exploring an abandoned mall with Riley, her former FEDRA schoolmate who ran away to join the Fireflies. The episode faithfully recreated many of DLC’s story beats. That included the kiss between the two characters, which critics hailed as groundbreaking for the video game industry at the time. And while speaking with Variety, Reid issued a preemptive response to the inevitable backlash.
“I think Bella put it perfectly a couple of weeks ago: ‘If you don’t like it, don’t watch,’” said Reid There’s so many other things to worry about in the world. I think being concerned about who people love is just absurd to me. I just don’t — I will never understand it. I don’t get it. I think despite what people are going to say, if they don’t like it, I think there are going to be a lot more people that appreciate it. A lot more people that feel represented and seen and heard. So that’s what matters. That’s where the work comes in. And that’s when it’s appreciated, and you prioritize looking at those tweets rather than the ones that aren’t the best.”
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In a separate interview with Entertainment Weekly, Reid clarified why it’s vital to show characters like Ellie and Riley onscreen.
“We are telling important stories,” noted Reid. “We’re telling stories of people’s experiences, and that’s what I live for. That’s what makes good storytelling, because we are telling stories of people who are taking up space in the world. […] It’s 2023. If you’re concerned about who I love, then I need you to get your priorities straight. There’s so many other things to worry about in life. Why are you concerned that these young people — or anybody — love each other? Love is beautiful, and the fact that people have things to say about it, it’s just nonsense.”
The Last of Us season 1 episode 8 will premiere on Sunday, March 5 on HBO and HBO Max.
What do you think of Reid’s response? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Storm Reid Last of Us. Also Storm Reid Last of Us.