Ramsey has been celebrated unlike ever before for their work in the TV adaptation of the hit PlayStation game. However, despite near-universal acclaim, the series has drawn the ire of some because of its depiction of queer romance on-screen.
Star of both the TV show and video games Troy Baker called this level of representation "beautiful," pointing to the very human "story about love" that is ultimately at the core of the franchise.
However, being a member of the queer community themself (recently thanking their "gay army" in a message as they left Twitter), Bella Ramsey has yet to speak on the representation seen in the hit HBO series.
Bella Ramsey on the Last of Us’ Queer Representation
Speaking in a new interview, The Last of Us star Bella Ramsey defended the level of queer representation seen across a handful of episodes from the HBO series.
When asked by L'Official if they connected with the story of "queerness" and "queer love" seen in the series' much-celebrated third episode, Ramsey said that they "definitely connected with it:"
L’Official: "I loved how, in the midst of the literal apocalypse, there’s this focus on not just queerness, but also on queer love. There’s the storyline with Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett [as Bill and Frank], and then Ellie and Riley [played by Storm Reid]. When you read the script, was that something that you connected with?"
Ramsey: "I definitely connected with it and it was really exciting to me."
The young actress continued, noting that they "remember[s] the character description that came through" for their role Ellie. It read, "she’s gay" and "doesn’t give a fuck what you think," a character detail they really loved:
"I remember the character description that came through in the initial email about Ellie. Part of what Craig wrote in her description was that 'she’s gay and she doesn’t care,' or I think the actual words were 'doesn’t give a fuck what you think.' I just loved that from the get-go."
Ramsey remarked, "It was really nice to have two really queer episodes" and how they did not feel "tacked on," but were "integral to this story:"
"It was really nice to have two really queer episodes. Like, gay people exist, so why shouldn’t they exist in the apocalypse? I really liked that it didn’t feel tacked on. It was so integral to this story, and so organically done, that it didn’t feel like, Oh, we’re just putting in these queer people for representation. This is the story, and it’s just a story of two people loving each other, and it was really beautiful."
Why The Last of Us' Queer Storytelling Matters
Despite what some angry internet commenters may say, this level of queer storytelling in The Last of Us matters not just to the narrative playing out on-screen on a greater industry-wide scale as well.
The impact of this level of representation being featured in one of the biggest (if not the biggest) shows of the year cannot be understated.
This was not something that was "tacked on" to check a box. No, love (no matter the gender of who it may be toward) has always been an integral part of The Last of Us' story, so it only made sense that this theme made its way over to the series as well.
Ramsey brings up a good point, " gay people exist," so "why shouldn’t they exist in the apocalypse?"
And with Season 2 set to tackle the events of The Last of Us Part II, fans should expect even more queer storytelling to get this level of exposure as Ramsey's journey as Ellie heads into its next chapter.
Bella Ramsey can be seen now in HBO's The Last of Us on HBO Max.