Neil Druckmann says he doesn’t care how audiences receive The Last Of Us TV series, arguing that their reactions are beyond his control.
In an interview with GQ’s Sam White, Craig Mazin — executive producer, director, writer and co-creator of HBO’s The Last of Us TV — was asked about adapting the second game, given that it “relies heavily on perspective shifts that are unique to the agency of video games,” whilst making sure that these perspectives aren’t “lost in the passive medium.”
“Oh, it’s not lost,” Mazin replied, before laughing alongside Neil Druckmann — also executive producer, director, writer, and creative director of the original The Last of Us game. “I think we know what we’re doing on this one.”
“I’m not saying that in snarky way, I’m saying that in a hopeful way,” Mazin explained. “There are going to be things that are going to be different, and there are things that are going to be identical. There are things that are going to be added and enriched. There are some things that are going to be flipped.”
“Our goal remains exactly what it was for the first season, which is to deliver a show that makes fans happy,” Mazin insisted. “We’ve got an incredible returning cast. It’s a daunting task. But Jesus, so was the first season. You can’t make everyone happy. But we’ve made a lot of people happy and that’s our intention to do it again.”
This prompted White to ask, “Do you think a TV audience will react in a similar way to where the story goes? Justifiably or not, a minor portion of the gaming community reacted incredibly negatively to the direction of Part 2.”
“I guess, to go back to the earlier [Todd Phillips] quote from Craig, which is like… I don’t care. How they react is how they react, that is completely outside of our control,” Druckmann flippantly replied. “So how do we make the best TV show version of that story? That’s the problem that we wrestle with every day.”
Druckmann seems to be referring to Mazin paraphrasing Phillips’ quote: “Not every movie has to serve as every audience member’s need for completion.”
Returning to the interview, Mazin followed up, “To the extent that the storylines move people to rage, confusion, or disappointment or anger. Well that, I suppose, is preferable to the worst possible outcome, which is indifference. There’s been a lot written about the third episode of this season, and it’s an episode we’re very proud of, and it moved a lot of people.”
“It’s one of the lower-rated shows on IMDb for one reason – a lot of people came on and gave it a 1/10. Not 5/10. One. The median score on that episode is 10. And the mean is an 8 or something. And that’s because there are incredibly strong opinions one way or the other. But I would much rather have a show that lives off of 10s and 1s, than a show that lives off of 5s,” Mazin argued.