Gay Twitter Reacts to Bill and Frank's Love Story on 'The Last of Us'

by Shawn Laib

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday January 31, 2023

Murray Bartlett, left, and Nick Offerman, right, in a scene from "The Last of Us."
Murray Bartlett, left, and Nick Offerman, right, in a scene from "The Last of Us."  (Source:Liane Hentscher/HBO)

HBO's post-apocalyptic drama "The Last of Us" has been a huge success through its first three episodes. The acting, cinematography, and direction are just some of the reasons the video game adaptation has been a hit, but the courage for the show to take chances is also paramount.

The writers took a big risk on the Sunday night episode called "Long, Long Time," as they fleshed out a gay romance between two characters named Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), who are only briefly mentioned in the video game, deviating from the source material to create a masterpiece. Gay Twitter was on fire with reactions to the episode, so we compiled some of them.

The Iconic Murray Bartlett

Murray Bartlett has been a successful actor for a long time now, starring on HBO's gay dramedy "Looking," but the Australian became more known to audiences worldwide when he won an Emmy for his role as Armond, the hotel manager on the first season of fellow HBO show "The White Lotus." Fans really enjoyed seeing Bartlett back on the screen for this week's episode of "The Last of Us."

A large part of the tragedy of the episode was seeing Frank in a wheelchair at the end of his life, suffering from a medical condition not made explicit. This tweet gives a tidbit into the brilliance of the makeup used for Bartlett's character. Even Bartlett's real-life partner was shook up by how he looked on the show.

Bartlett has become a frequent figure on HBO in recent years, and this has given fans plenty of opportunities to thirst over his DILF-ness. This fan used the scene in which Frank and Bill sleep together for the first time to fantasize about being in bed with the Australian actor themselves.

This fan decided to celebrate Bartlett's entire HBO catalog by declaring him as the gay king of the cable giant. This statement certainly isn't far-fetched after his role on "The White Lotus" as Armond, the gay, sexed-up hotel manager and now as the more gentle Frank on "The Last of Us." It's great for Bartlett to finally get the love he's deserved for his entire career!

Gaydar is kind of controversial in 2023, as it's quite invasive to assume someone's sexuality before they've come out. Yet for queer people, gaydar is one of the only ways we can confidently ask someone of the same sex out on a date. Fans enjoyed seeing how strong Frank's gaydar was in this episode, using wine and an affinity for Linda Ronstadt as evidence.

Another example of a fan joking about how Bartlett has become HBO's go-to actor for a major gay role on a Sunday night hit show. We're certainly not going to complain about the casting choice!

Nick Offerman for the Win!

A veteran TV actor, Nick Offerman is most known for playing Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" but viewers were amazed at his dramatic turn as Bill on "The Last of Us," a role he wasn't even the first choice to play by the casting crew.

This tweet uses some meme-ception with a famous Pedro Pascal photo to joke about how shocking it was that Nick Offerman starred in one of the most beautiful queer TV episodes that has aired in recent memory. It was as unexpected as it was tender and loving, and we're still thinking about it days later.

Straight actors playing gay characters has been a very long and drawn out conversation both within and outside of LGBTQ+ discourse. No matter what your opinion is on the matter, most people had no issue with straight actor Nick Offerman bringing Bill to life on "The Last of Us." This tweet jokes about how the episode has such a brilliant script that the queer elements wouldn't factor into whether a straight actor such as Offerman would accept or decline the role.

This tweet uses the past roles of Bartlett and Offerman to talk about how stunning it was that they delivered the most emotional TV episode of 2023 so far. Bartlett and Offerman are certainly versatile actors and their reputation is at an all-time high now.

Remember That Famous Opening From "Up?"

There is a legendary opening scene in Pixar's "Up" in which the directors tell a love story between elderly Carl (Ed Asner) and his wife. This short sequence is a masterclass in effective storytelling, especially in how it delivers an emotional gut punch to audiences. "The Last of Us" was able to conjure up those same feelings for two characters who had never appeared before and won't again.

Fans were ready to joke about how random it seemed that the writers behind the camera decided to use the added runtime of the television medium compared to video games to expand the characters Bill and Frank in the ways that they did. The mix of apocalyptic fear and romance mixed in incredible ways.

This tweet expresses the same sentiments as the previous one, using a meme from "Pearl" to describe how much of an emotional toll the relationship between Bill and Frank took on the viewing audience. The person repeated how the feelings brought out by the story were similar to that of the opening sequence in Disney Pixar's "Up."

We want to thank this user for just outright showing the aforementioned introduction of "Up." Now we're crying to both this movie and "The Last of Us!"

The Haters Are Still Here

Just because something seems universally loved doesn't mean there aren't haters waiting in the wings. While some of these people are full-on homophobic, others are LGBTQ+ fans being critical of the way queerness is being represented on screen.

There are some negative stereotypes around queer acceptance in the gaming community, and this tweet uses the Eleven meme from "Stranger Things" to make fun of how upset homophobic gamers might have been when they were forced to see Bill and Frank's story unfold.

The episode was widely acclaimed by TV critics, but that doesn't mean outliers are non-existent. Journalist Juan Barquin wrote about how they thought the romance between Bill and Frank was Emmy-bait rather than good representation for gay people.

This viewer had issues with the musical choices in the episode, finding them contrived rather than creative.

This tweet thought the episode was poorly placed because of the lack of screentime for the two main characters in the show, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey).