The Last of Us is a welcome addition to the glut of apocalyptic/zombie dramas.

The HBO series quickly proves itself worthy of the hype and anticipation by delivering a fully realized series graced with flesh-and-blood characters.

The series creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann initially construct the story around one family

Flaring out to chronicle the outbreak’s ramifications around the globe, with a 20-year palette from which to choose.

The program’s spine involves Joel, who is tasked with reluctantly escorting the teenage Ellie to a facility across the country, with the hope her immunity to infection might contain the means of curing the zombies affliction.

Both leads are superb, with details about their lives gradually emerging along the way.

The real threat isn’t the zombies, but rather what people will do when the structure of society breaks down.

The storytelling is absolutely fearless and unflinching, creating horrifying scenarios and moments that can be alternately touching and utterly tragic.

The level of violence isn’t for the faint of heart.

The Last of Us is the latest iteration of imagining a world gone mad, emphasizing the personal dramas that unfold against that backdrop.

The Last of Us premieres January 15 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO