2nd season for HBO’s gay, lesbian inclusive series “The Last of Us”

After just two episodes, HBO has renewed “The Last of Us,” its smash hit video game adaptation, for a second season, the network said Friday.

Since its premiere Jan. 15, “The Last of Us” has become mega popular for HBO. Its premiere was the second-highest premiere for HBO after “House of The Dragon.”

Since its debut, episode one of “The Last of Us” has generated more than 22 million viewers.

Episode two drew 5.7 million viewers on its opening night, adding more than 1 million viewers compared to the episode one debut. That 22% jump marks the largest week two audience growth for any HBO original drama series in the history of the network.

The Last of Us, Murray Bartlett, Gay Characters

Nick Offerman, left, and Murray Bartlett play a gay couple on “The Last of Us.” HBO has renewed the series for a second season. Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO

“The Last of Us” is set 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone because she might hold the key to humanity’s survival. 

What starts as a small job soon turns into a brutal and heartbreaking journey as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival amid a landscape of fungus-infected zombies and other treacherous obstacles during the series’ nine episodes.

“The Last of Us” and its 2020 sequel video game included several LGBTQ characters and those stories are spotlighted in HBO’s series.

Ellie is queer, and the budding exploration of her sexuality is expected to play a significant role in the series, including her complicated relationship with a childhood friend named Riley. “Euphoria” actress Storm Reid plays Riley.

“The Last of Us” also showcases Bill and Frank, a gay couple played by Nick Offerman (“Parks and Rec”) and out gay actor Murray Bartlett (“Looking,” “The White Lotus,” “Welcome to Chippendales”). Bill is a smuggler who has worked with Joel in the past, and the two have been living a survivalist lifestyle in a Boston suburb. The men offer Joel and Ellie a vital travel aide to help their journey to Salt Lake City.

Episode three will focus on Bill and Frank

Earlier this year, Ramsey told The New York Times that their gender has “always been very fluid.

“Someone would call me ‘she’ or ‘her’ and I would think about it, but I knew that if someone called me ‘he’ it was a bit exciting,” they said, also stating they opt for the nonbinary option on a form whenever they have the opportunity. “I’m very much just a person.”

“Being gendered isn’t something that I particularly like,” they said. “But in terms of pronouns, I really couldn’t care less.”

HBO has not yet released any information about shooting schedule, cast, story lines, or release date for season two.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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