By Gig Hope @giglet_media
The Last of Us is the buzziest new show of the year. When trailers dropped viewers were promised non-stop action and zombies. And it doesn’t disappoint: six episodes in people are flooding the internet with memes about loving the new scary zombie show that keeps making them cry. If you have been bingeing walkthroughs of the videogame, reading Bill and Frank fan fiction, and collecting all the easter eggs, here is some stuff to add to your watchlist and TBR book stack, and even an album to listen to on your commute.
If you loved how grotty everything looks, how a Ziplock bag is treated as a precious treasure, and wonder why Big Pharma is still pumping out Oxy, try:
Limited series, Stan
Set twenty years after a world-ending flu, a band of actors is travelling across the US putting on Shakespeare plays when they come up against a terrifying, child-filled cult. Watch out for series highlight episode ‘Dr.Chaudhary’ which will give you all the same feels as already legendary Last of Us ep. ‘Long Long Time’.
If you love watching Joel become a better human and stop sucking so much so he can maybe save the world, try:
The Good Place
Four Seasons, Netflix
A comedy about four people meeting in the afterlife as soulmates only to discover that one half of each couple is actually a garbage person sent to the titular Good Place by mistake. From there they must become better people so they may stay on in eternal paradise without being caught. While the show does get a little saggy in the middle, by the finale the show movingly answers the same question as The Last of Us: what do we owe each other?
If you dig the “the world is full of zombie mushrooms and the government is full of Nazis, what do we do now? Make a found family?” vibes, try:
Three Seasons, Binge/Foxtel
The gold standard of what is becoming a surprisingly robust genre – the world has ended so let’s all love each other – The Leftovers is set three years after a devastating global event. Two percent of the world’s population suddenly vanishes; amid grief and wondering why the principal cast of perfect stangers have all disappeared, two people fall in love and find purpose despite trying desperately to never live again after unspeakable trauma. Sound like a Joel we might know? Also, not for nothing but both shows feature hall of fame-level hot dads, so …
If Bill and Frank own your whole heart because of their unexpected love story, try:
Our Flag Means Death
One Season, Binge/Foxtel
Steed Bonet runs away from his upper-crust family life to become a gentleman pirate. As his ragtag crew of weird, hapless, queer pirates muck around on the high seas one of the most surprising and genuinely romantic, middle-aged queer love stories unfolds. And if that hasn’t hooked you one half of this couple is the mysteriously Kiwi infamous pirate Blackbeard, played by the internet’s boyfriend Tikia Waititi.
If you saw a mouldering body stuck to a wall with mushrooms all over it and thought gross, but also kind of pretty, try:
A meteor has landed in The Everglades casting an ever-growing ‘shimmer’ around the crash site. Numerous researchers have gone to see it to figure out what’s going on. None has returned. A final team goes in and discovers the ‘shimmer’ is messing with the DNA of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Annihilation boasts truly striking visuals as well as a character study into why people seek out self-destruction. (Sound like any Joels you might know?)
If you know The Last of Us is not actually a scary zombie show, but secretly a tender-hearted study in all types of love, try:
Tomorrow, and, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Novel, From wherever you buy books
Two friends come together, fall apart, come together, fall apart, come together. Spanning decades, the pair falls into a deeply complicated love with each other, other people, and their children, all while creating the type of emotionally-driven, thinky video games the book is based on.
If you are here for the messy relationships, divided loyalties and outrageous things people do for love, try:
The Sunset Tree
Album, Streaming wherever you get music
An autobiographical concept album from weirdo folk band The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree chronicles the lead singer’s relationship with his abusive stepfather. The album ranges from the defiant, gleeful middle finger of ‘Up the Wolves’ to ‘Pale Green Things’ where front man John Darnelle reflects on the one good day he had with his stepfather after learning he died. The album plays with these tensions like a living Chinese finger trap. Again, sound like any Joels we might know?
Featured image: Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) riding through the wilds on their way to Wyoming in Season 1, Episode 6. Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO