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Murray Bartlett as Frank in 'The Last of Us' Was the Sexiest Thing on TV in 2023

By Emily Richardson | Celebrity | December 2, 2023 |

By Emily Richardson | Celebrity | December 2, 2023 |


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My sexy pop culture obsession is forbidden lust. To me, there’s nothing hotter than a repressed character (religious, closeted, goody-two-shoes, etc.) finally giving in to their deepest desires. See: Mandy Patinkin almost banging Barbra Streisand in Yentl, all of Brokeback Mountain, and Anya Taylor-Joy becoming a witch at the end of The Witch.

This brings me to my 2023 nominee for the Pajiba 10: Murray Bartlett. Specifically Murray Bartlett as Frank in The Last of Us. Murray-as-Frank has got it all: a salt-and-pepper beard, a sassy sense of humor, crow’s feet that crinkle when he smiles, and super hot sexual tension with repressed gay survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman).

Now, I’m not into video games, so I had no idea what I was getting into when I sat down for Episode 3 of The Last of Us back in January. Heck, I was perfectly happy watching Nick Offerman play I Am Legend for the entire hour; ransacking business, building traps, killing zombies. Fun!

But then, Murray Bartlett showed up. “Oh shit! The guy from White Lotus,” I told my husband. “I hope Ron Swanson doesn’t shoot him right away.” Luckily, he didn’t. In fact, the ol’ grump ended up making Frank lunch. After that, the pair moved on over to the piano, where Bill sang a beautiful rendition of Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time”. When Bill finished, an emotional Frank asked, “Who’s the girl? The girl you were singing about?” After a long pause, Bill replied: “There is no girl.”

Then, and only then, did it finally dawn on me: HOLY SHIT, THEY’RE GAY! The next few minutes are a blur; there was a kiss, a sex scene, and a quick pause on my end so I could scream into my pillow.

The rest of “Long, Long Time” is the most romantic episode of television I’ve ever seen. And I watched Season 2 of Fleabag, thankyouverymuch. We follow Bill and Frank’s love story over the next sixteen years; they bicker, make new friends, get into jogging, protect their home from raiders, and share a perfect moment in a strawberry patch:

Eventually, the episode flash-forwards to the couple as old men. Poor Frank is suffering from a degenerative disease, and, one morning, he asks Bill to help him die. Bill reluctantly agrees. The pair spend their final day shopping for suits, getting married in their living room, and sharing one final dinner. Once they’re done eating, Bill places a lethal dose of sleeping pills in Frank’s glass of wine. Then, he reveals he spiked his own drink as well. Bill doesn’t wanna live without Frank! The couple retires to their room to fall asleep together one last time. This is where I lost it. Full on weeping. We had to pause the episode again.

Several weeks later, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsay) visit Bill and Frank, and discover a letter in their house explaining what happened. As the pair drive out of town in Bill’s truck, Ellie discovers a cassette labeled “Mix for Bill” in the glove compartment. She pops it in the tape deck, and, lo and behold, it’s Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time”! As the song plays, we cut to the open window inside Bill and Frank’s bedroom (they left it ajar so their bodies wouldn’t stink up the house). The camera slowly pans out to reveal the curtains flapping in the wind, a view of Ellie and Joel driving away, and a portrait of Bill (painted by Frank) on the wall. Cut to black. The end.

Or was it? Because, for the next month, I was obsessed with rewatching this episode and listening to “Long, Long Time” on repeat. One day, I was on the treadmill at the gym and burst into tears because I merely thought about the open window. In retrospect, I may have been going through something deeper, but I refuse to do any further self-reflection.

Even though Nick Offerman did a killer job as Frank, it was 52-year-old Murray Bartlett who became my personal sexy-man MVP. Which is strange, because, usually, my pop culture crushes aren’t traditionally “handsome” with six-pack abs. I’ve always found the Brad Pitts and George Clooneys of Hollywood sorta… blah. I like ‘em a little weird-looking, ya know? But Murray was so charming, flirty, and funny as Frank, he straight-up broke my brain. Heck, I was so obsessed that I finally watched Looking, a show I’d avoided for years for absolutely no reason. Obviously, Murray was the very best part. He’s a STAHHH.

Now, let’s end this article with some sexy Murray content. For your consideration:

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