What I’m Watching: iZombie by cracksback

Editors note: This contribution is from “cracksback”, a member of the FoCC forum. 

Last week CW announced that all of their scripted programming was being renewed for next season. This announcement included iZombie which returns with the final five episodes of its Sophomore Season on Tuesday, March 22 and now promises a Season 3.  With that assurance, if you aren’t watching iZombie yet, it’s time to start! This truly unique offering from CW is not quite like anything else on TV. It offers a little bit of something for everyone and is certainly worth a look. I’m going to tell you why, but first a brief, completely spoiler-free synopsis of iZombie which assumes you are starting from Episode 1. I highly recommend starting from the beginning.iZOMBIE

The show centers on Seattle Medical Examiner Dr. Liv Moore (Rose McIver), who woke up a zombie after attending a boat party that went horribly awry. The thing about zombies in this universe, though, is that they are just like you and me, only they are SUPER pale, their hair turns white and they have this pesky need to feed on human brains in order to survive. Oh, and they are sometimes prone to uncontrollably “raging out” when provoked. Another new premise of the show is that the zombies live in secret, undetected among everyday humans. Average humans of the world do not yet know zombies walk among them.

Liv’s daily life is inhabited by those around her who have no idea she is a zombie. There is Liv’s ex-fiancé Major (Robert Buckley), with whom Liv ended her relationship after discovering she was a zombie, thinking he deserved someone with whom he could have a family and future. Major still holds a torch for Liv and has no idea why she dumped him. Peyton (Aly Michalka) is Liv’s longtime BFF and roommate who she moved in with after ending things with Major. Liv’s co-worker Ravi (Rahul Kohli) is the Chief Medical Examiner at the morgue. Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) works with Liv and Ravi to solve murders around Seattle. Lastly, there is mysterious drug-dealer Blaine (David Anders) who keeps turning up. And oh yeah, Liv switched careers from Surgeon to Medical Examiner for access to the brain smorgasbord at the morgue.

Obviously, this story is already unique because zombies are not the mindless, lurching and obvious walking dead that most other tales make them out to be. Au contraire, in this story not only do zombies have a mind, they are cunning and crafty, figuring out a way to live in the world undetected. And the real kicker here that makes iZombie a true delight is that when Liv eats a brain, she takes on the personality of the person from whence the brain has come. She also encounters their memories in spontaneous visions. This fact makes Liv an expert Medical Examiner who convinces Det. Babineaux to let her work with him to solve the murders of the victims whose bodies Liv examines at the morgue. She explains her knowledge to the good Detective by telling him she has psychic visions. After these visions prove fruitful in solving a murder, Babineaux has no choice but to accept Liv at her word and begins to allow her work with him out in the field, not just in the morgue.

This setup is attractive to fans of many different genres of television. Yes, you get your science-fiction zombie story, but you always get a weekly murder-mystery and police procedural as well. The cases keep you guessing until the very end and they weave within the larger arc of the zombie outbreak and how it has happened. And all the while within this framework, you also have the tender human drama involving Liv’s personal life and how it has fallen apart in the face of her zombie infection. She’s given up the love of her life while he still lingers wondering why she’s done this. Her best friend feels hurt and ignored by Liv’s constant secrecy. She’s alienated everyone she loves for their own good, but they don’t know that and she needs them now more than ever.  It’s an extremely satisfying mix and quite an achievement to deliver science-fiction, murder mystery, police procedural and touching human drama into a single narrative that we’ve not really seen before on television.

The single most fascinating aspect of the show for me though, that really allows it to dig deeply into the human psyche is the way that eating the brain each week impacts Liv and her personality. This opens up a huge avenue for exploring how others impact our own lives. We don’t physically eat the brains of those around us, but the minds of those around do impact and influence our behavior and make us who we are. Liv suffers real consequences of feeling what the victims feel and they have a lasting impact on her life and the relationships with others around her. It’s as though, even technically “dead,” Liv has never, well, lived this much in her whole life. Seeing the world through the eyes (er, brains) of others unlocks a new part of her, and perhaps us as viewers.

Normally the zombie narrative is largely about those living, escaping the zombies and finding a way to live while the mindless hordes threaten to destroy society and all of humanity. Zombies are often allegory for consumerism, racism, capitalism, etc. Basically, the zombie has represented whatever the current “threat” is in the world as perceived by the writer and as the viewer we identify with the surviving humans trying to escape the zombies. iZombie completely flips that. Yes, Liv would like to escape her zombie affliction, but it has opened her up to a whole new world. Through being a zombie, she’s actually coming alive and being empowered. And we are positioned to identify with Liv, the zombie. Zombie-ism enables Liv to solve crimes and help society. Eating the brains of the dead she’s able to see the world through another perspective and grow her humanity while no longer even being human. It’s a very clever twist on what zombies represent in popular culture.

So come one, come all. Whether you’re looking for sci-fi, mystery, procedural, love story, drama or a deeper look at humanity iZombie has it all for you. It can be enjoyed as any one or all of those things, shoving none it of down your throat. It is a unique experience to be enjoyed uniquely by you, however you see it. TV doesn’t get much better than that.

To continue the discussion on the forum or to see what others are thinking click on the link below:

Follow @CWiZombie for interaction in the Twitter-verse or go to the CW iZombie website for past episodes and more.

Additional note for those attending Wondercon! There is an iZombie Special Presentation and Q&A at WonderCon on Friday March 25, 2016 4:30pm – 5:30pm in Microsoft Theater. Stars Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders, as well as executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright will all be in attendance. There will also be a limited ticketed autograph signing on that day.