iZombie: The Answer to Your Genre TV Cravings
Many a fledgling television show has gone belly up before its time, due to bad marketing campaigns and lack of word-of-mouth publicity. One of the best recent examples is ABC’s extremely short-lived My Fair Lady adaptation, Selfie, which was crackling with refreshing wit and charm and featured great performances from its leads, Karen Gillan and John Cho, but was axed after only 13 episodes. Despite having positive critical reviews, Selfie couldn’t overcome its slightly tacky title, and people just didn’t tune in.
iZombie, the latest creation from Veronica Mars co-executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, faces a similar challenge. Ask around at any college campus if anyone has been keeping up with the CW show, and you’ll be met with raised eyebrows and judgemental stares. Most haven’t heard of the show at all and immediately write it off based on the title, and those who have seen a commercial or two are disposed to think it’s just a shallow, young adult addition to the current oversaturation of onscreen zombies.
Well, those people would all be dead (excuse the pun) wrong. iZombie is easily one of the most entertaining, original, and diverse shows on the CW right now, second perhaps only to post-apocalyptic survival drama The 100. Just because people aren’t talking about iZombie doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be, and with an impressive critic’s score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and steadily increasing ratings, it hopefully won’t be long before everyone is raving about the quirky supernatural crime dramedy.
The show is loosely based off the 2010-2012 comic book series of the same name, but Thomas and Ruggiero have revamped it to appeal to the “hip” CW target audience. The show follows fiercely likable Liv Moore (Rose McIver), a former medical resident with the perfect life, including the perfect fiancé (Robert Buckley). The story kicks off with Liv being attacked at a boat party and waking up the next day as a fully functioning zombie, essentially meaning that she can continue to live her life, but she’s lost interest in everything except her hunger for brains. She’s also stuck with white blonde hair, pale skin, and dark shadows around her eyes - but the look works for her. She quits her job, breaks off her engagement, and starts working at the morgue for easy access to brains.
The hook of the show is that every time Liv snacks on someone’s cerebellum, she gains some of their personality traits, as well as visions of the moments before they died. She gets thrown into the world of homicide investigation when Detective Clive Babinaux (Malcolm Goodwin) discovers that her ability can help solve tough cases. Although, he thinks she’s a physic - yet another layer to the already wonderfully campy premise.
The show’s shining moments come from the strong friendships at work, especially Liv and her boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), the only human who knows about her undead situation. The lack of forced romantic tension between Liv and any of her onscreen male counterparts is amazingly unique for television these days, and even the mysterious quasi-villain Blaine, played with devious charm by David Anders, doesn’t seem to be much of a threat as far as becoming a clichéd love interest. Although, he has already been compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Spike, due to his peroxide blonde hair and bad boy persona.
Liv Moore makes for the perfect contemporary protagonist because she can be a role model for young girls (brain eating aside); she’s very smart, independent, in touch with her emotions, and not at all submissive to any of the men that she is constantly surrounded by. She’s also breathtakingly beautiful and played with just the right amount of spunk by McIver, and her character alone is enough of a reason to watch the show.
Diverse and fascinating cast of characters aside, there are so many other reasons this show is worth watching. The humor is timely and intelligent, but not afraid to be cheesy or nerdy when the situation calls for it. Although it takes the form of a “mystery of the week” cop show, it’s completely unlike any police procedural on the air. Yet, it does feel distinctly reminiscent of Veronica Mars, especially when it comes to the feisty petite protagonist.
Overall, iZombie is charming, entertaining, never offensive, and makes a concerted effort to properly represent the diversity found in real life. It’s still finding its footing, but all the elements for a successful, long-term series are already present. As long as the audience continues to grow and a solid fanbase emerges, iZombie is primed to become the new gem of the CW, while most of its other, older shows continue to fade into obscurity.