The Last of Us creators explain the gay subtext behind Ellie and Riley's lingerie scene
27 February 2023, 16:00
"Here are two girls. They're both gay and their sexuality is confusing to them and scary to them because the world stops in 2003."
Listen to this article
The Last of Us creators have opened up about the emotional meaning behind Ellie and Riley's lingerie scene in episode 7.
The Last of Us episode 7 features an emotional flashback in which we meet Ellie's now-dead first love Riley. During the episode, Riley takes Ellie to an abandoned mall, they stumble across an old Victoria's Secret store and they both seem perplexed. Riley says: "I mean I don't get why people back then wanted all this stuff. It just looks uncomfortable?"
The scene then takes a turn. Riley giggles and says: "I was just trying to imagine you wearing that?" Visibly upset, Ellie tells Riley to shut up. The scene ends with Ellie looking insecurely at her own reflection in the Victoria's Secret shop window.
Now, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin have explained the importance of the scene and the queer subtext behind it.
READ MORE: Does Ellie kill Riley in The Last of Us? Here's why we don't see Riley's death
Discussing the scene on HBO's The Last of Us podcast, Neil Druckmann, who created The Last of Us game, said: "You have this store that's just all about sex. And then you just think back to those years as a teenager when your brain is just getting pumped full of hormones and then you can't help but think of attraction and sex when you're next to that store."
He added: "Both of these girls like each other, like really like each other, but they're too afraid to say anything. Here's where Riley gets to poke at it and see the reaction. Ellie has a very kind of weird nervous reaction because she doesn't want to reveal how vulnerable she is. She loves Riley."
Neil ended by saying: "That's why when Ellie walks away we get this lingering moment where Ellie's looking at her own reflection and we see an insecurity."
BBR, just crying thinking about Riley and Ellie struggling to express how they feel.
The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin then went in further depth. He said: "Here are two girls. They're both gay and their sexuality is confusing to them and scary to them because the world stops in 2003. The revolution we've gone through to become accepting of sexuality and whatever we call non heteronormative sexualities hasn't occurred."
He continued: "You have these two girls who are uncomfortable with and afraid of their sexuality and they're looking at the most heteronormative presentation of female sexuality there can be, lingerie designed to be incredibly feminine to attract men. Neither one of them seem to get the allure of it, which is not surprising, it's not their thing."
As for Riley's intentions, he said: "What I love about what Riley does there is that she gets scared of her own feelings for Ellie so she basically puts Ellie down to cover up how she's feeling in this moment. Ellie doesn't understand that, and it hurts. She gets defensive and then insecure."
Craig finally explained that when Ellie sees her reflection, she doesn't see herself as a Victoria's Secret angel or sexy: "She doesn't like her face, she doesn't like her hair, she doesn't like the way any of it is and she's pretty sure that Riley doesn't like it either. I can't think of a more 14-year-old thing to think than that."
Of course, Ellie finds out soon after that Riley is attracted to her. They kiss before their worlds are turned upside down.
Read more The Last of Us news here:
- The Last of Us viewers spot filming error in Joel and Ellie's bridge scene
- The Last of Us viewers spot second editing mistake with Ellie and the horse
- Ellie's menstrual cup scene in The Last of Us is being praised by viewers
- Bella Ramsey reveals why Ellie's queerness in The Last of Us is so important
- Does Joel die in The Last of Us game? Here's what happens to him and Ellie