Watch More Things
I haven’t seen The Last of Us episode three yet. In fact, I deliberately haven’t seen it so I can write this article from a cleaner, colder perspective. I live my life in service to content. If you have seen the episode though, you may be one of the thousands declaring it as the greatest episode of television this day, week, month, year, millennium. It feels like we hit upon moments like this in pop culture every couple of months, and there is only one solution: watch more things.
Again, I have not seen The Last of Us’ third episode yet. This is not a criticism of you personally if you enjoyed it. This is not me telling you ‘oh you like the zombie show, babydick? Maybe you and that pet rock you have for a brain should watch some French cinema, you ignoramus’. You shouldn’t watch more things because I find your opinions on what’s good and what’s bad to be foolish and childish. It just seems like you like things! Watch more of ‘em!
Because even if you think you do, you don’t. There are some movies, or television shows, or video games that we all love because of the raw spectacle. There’s Top Gun: Maverick and Avengers: Endgame, the Hardhome episode of Game of Thrones or The Rescue from The Mandalorian, Ghost of Tsushima or Hades. These all pack and punch and we get socked by them. But whenever our mass media is surprisingly tender, we lose our minds. We don’t watch enough tender things.
What I do know of The Last of Us episode three, since nobody could wait even a single second to talk about it, is that it revolves around Bill and Frank, and is primarily (perhaps entirely) a love story that makes the implied homosexuality in the game into a core factor in driving the story forward. The zombie show pauses the action and the bluster to give us a sweet and sincere queer love story, and I’m not here to argue that it isn’t great. I haven’t seen it. But it’s not unusual for art to move you, and too often as a culture we’re surprised when it does.
If you only watch the typical HBO bombastic big budget series, alongside TV shows tied to the MCU or Star Wars and only watch blockbuster or b-flick action movies, then things like TLOU episode three feel like a shock to the system. Andor, which had similar moments of trust in its characters, might have prepared you a little, but in general you should watch more things.
You might say you don’t have time. And I mean, sure. Who does, right? This isn’t a homework assignment. There isn’t going to be a test on Billy Wilder movies next Thursday. It just seems like you like ‘em, buddy. This is not a scolding, it’s encouragement. There’s more media out there that has exactly the sorts of stories, moments, and characters you clearly love. You might just need a push to get there. If you liked Bill and Frank, why not try Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Call Me by Your Name, Ammonite, In the Mood for Love, or Before Sunshine?
The problem is these sorts of things tend to be dismissed out of hand because they’re too slow, too boring, too obscure. There’s an inferiority complex with media. As a culture, we worry we’re not smart enough so we hide away from things that might challenge us or expand our horizons. Then something like that arrives, hidden in something more digestible, and we love it. We’re moved to tears. We can’t stop talking about it. Then we go back to being afraid. What if I don’t ‘get’ Ammonite? I can’t watch In the Mood for Love, it has subtitles. No! You like these things. You like them with zombies on either side of them, and you will like them without the zombies too. I promise.
It’s something I have come to notice more and more on a professional level, too. I do watch more things, and it always surprises me when something that’s good (but not great) seems to capture my fellow critics’ hearts. Of course, at times these are matters of opinion, but it feels like the conversations we have around media (and, more niche, the writing we do after the fact) would be stronger if we simply watched more things. I don’t actively enjoy being the cynic who isn’t swept up in the tidal wave everyone else is, I just find myself having firmer footing. If you watched more things, you would too.
None of this is to say you’re wrong for having been moved by The Last of Us. It’s always very special when media has the power to do that. I’m glad so many people enjoyed it. I just want it to be a springboard to more enjoyment. Not better, not more evolved, not more intelligent, not anything that marks this experience so many of you were touched by as something lesser. Just more. Watch more things. You’ll probably enjoy it.
Source: Read Full Article