Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Olivia "Liv" Moore is a dedicated medical intern that always achieves the highest she can. One day, she decides to let loose a little and go on a boat party, but it turns out to be a zombie filled death trap. She is scratched by a zombie and becomes one herself. To keep her condition a secret, she quits school, breaks up with her fiance Major Lilywhite, and gets a job in a morgue for guilt-free brain access. When she eats brains, she discovers she intermittently gets the memories of the deceased and inherits some of their personality traits for a short time. She uses her newfound power to solve crimes along with her morgue coworker Ravi, who knows about her zombie state, and Detective Clive Babineaux, who she's fooled into thinking she's a psychic.
iZombie is the only zombie show on TV that isn't totally serious and post-apocalyptic. Despite the obvious darkness of the subject matter (murder, zombies, brain eating, etc.), the tone of the show is light and it brings a lot of humor. It's also the only show on TV with a zombie as a main character instead of as a mindless shambler. Zombies in this world are the product of some sort of drug. They need brains to live and becomes super pale with colorless hair when turned. With a steady diet of brains, they look pretty normal if you ignore their new coloring. With those brains comes memories of whoever the brain belonged to, usually triggered by a similar event in their life to a memory, and some aspects of their personality. Without brains or when afraid, they turn feral: super strong, red eyes, and very little cognition. Zombies also have a strong constitution. Flesh wounds don't even hurt, but more brains need to go towards healing. Destroying the brain is really the only way to kill them.
Liv Moore is our intrepid protagonist. She changes every episode because of her zombie ability, so sometimes Liv is a martial artist or an artist or an alcoholic or a paranoid schizophrenic. Rose McIver does a wonderful job of making these ever changing aspects just part of Liv. It's easy to make it a different character every episode, but it just brings out different parts of Liv's personality and allows her to work out her emotions and problems as well as solve murder mysteries. Throughout the series, she gets to know who she really is through other people. She is challenged, pushed to her limits, and experiences tragedy. However, she also finds where her boundaries lie and defines who she is and what she's willing to do in extreme circumstances. For example, Liv won't kill someone is cold blood, but she will kill someone in self defense. I didn't always agree with her and she made mistakes along the way, but she grew in the end. She also reassesses what's important in her life and reconnects with the estranged people in her life.
After the attack, Liv is a zombie in every way. Sure, she is physically a zombie, but she's withdrawn from every aspect of her life. Her friends and family don't see her anymore and lost their previous close relationship. She broke up with her fiance Major, much to his confusion, even though she still has feelings for him. She had a successful medical residency, but also threw it away to become a coroner's assistant for nonviolent brain access. When I explained the premise of the show out loud, I noticed that it can be read as an allegory for sexual assault or rape. Liv, a fresh faced successful woman, goes to a party. She's offered drugs and refuses, then the drug dealer slaps her ass, clearly not respecting her refusal and feeling like he's allowed to touch her body. Later, this same drug dealer forces the drug upon her anyway in the form of a scratch and she becomes a zombie. She doesn't really tell anyone about her condition or her attack and she would rather withdraw from her whole life rather than put her loved ones at risk. I've heard of and known many women who hid their sexual assaults from people because they wouldn't be believed or they didn't want to subject themselves to the disbelief, ridicule, and vilification that often comes from going public with a situation like this. Liv uses her zombie powers for good, eventually reconnects with her friends and family, and takes control of her life back. She refuses to let this attack define her even though it has changed her.
Rose McIver drives the show as the main character, but the supporting cast is amazing. My favorite supporting character is Ravi, portrayed by Rahul Kohli. He takes Liv's revelation and issues in stride plus works to create a cure. He accepts her absolutely and is her main support throughout the series. Major Lilywhite, Liv's ex-fiance. started off as too squeaky clean and annoying, but came into his own about halfway through the series. By the last episode, he was pretty badass and impressive. David Anders plays the series' main villain. Right from the get go, he has a weirdly charismatic presence while still succeeding being sinister and menacing. He is cheerfully evil and nonchalantly commits murder or any other number of horrific crimes. I love to hate him and he's a formidable villain. The whole cast performs well and there are really no weak links.
iZombie is a wonderful show that's fun, sometimes disturbing, and full of real emotion. It's based on a comic book, but shares very little with it. It pays homage to the comic book in the stylized animated opening theme song and in the freeze frame comic book scenes at the beginning of some scenes. The familiar police procedural mixed with zombies is what it starts with, but becomes so much more by the end of the season. I'm very pleased with it and I can't wait for it to return in October.
My rating: 9/10 fishmuffins