Watch: 'The Last of Us' Writer Explains Show's Gay Love Story

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 31, 2023

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in the "Long Long Time" episode of "The Last of Us."
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in the "Long Long Time" episode of "The Last of Us."  (Source:HBO)

HBO's adaptation of "The Last of Us" video game featured a poignant gay love story that touched many viewers' hearts. The show's co-creator Craig Mazin, who scripted the episode, opened up in an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment about how he drew on his own "middle-aged love" story as a straight married man to write it.

The love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank ("The White Lotus" star and openly gay actor Murray Bartlett) was hinted at in the show's source material, the 2013 video game of the same name, but only made explicit to players who found a letter from Frank to Bill. In the game, Frank left Bill long before, whereas in the television adaptation the two remained together, and deeply in love.

"Definitely, we wanted to give people more if they have played the game," Mazin said. "And if they haven't played the game, we wanted it to feel like it was this natural thing to occur, anyway."

Mazin said he "wanted to be able to show time passing," and the episode did that by picking up in the immediate aftermath of the global pandemic that largely ends civilization, then showing how Bill and Frank met and following their story for decades. "And I also wanted to explore the theme of love, and the different kinds of love."

To find emotional inspiration for the episode, Mazin said he looked at his own decades-long marriage to his wife, noting that Bill and Frank's "story was less about their homosexuality, and more about the fact that it's a middle-aged romance."

Added Mazin: "I know what that old love feels like, and I really wanted to explore that."

Thematically, Mazin said the episode will be "a little seed... that kind of keeps growing even though it has its own conclusion."

As previously reported, the episode is different from what has previously been seen in that most of the runtime is spent with characters outside the main storyline. When asked if the show's writers and producers had plans for future episodes to adopt a similar perspective — either as Season 1 continues, or in Season 2, which HBO has already green lit — Mazin nodded and said, with a grin, "We sure do."

Watch a clip of the interview below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.