Lend me your ears for a moment and allow me to geek out over what I think might just be the best show on network TV (it’s a stretch, I know). Jumping into its third season, the CW’s iZombie is the perfect combination of The Walking Dead-esque gory zombie thrills, The Flash’s well timed pop culture references, and Veronica Mars style detective work. It centers around a woman named Liv Moore (let that sink in a bit) who has to give up her promising medical career when she finds herself turned into a zombie.
Her new life as a zombie begins with working at the Seattle police station’s morgue, where we meet her boss, and eventual BFF, Ravi Chakrabarti. The morgue is where Liv gets all the brains she needs to stay relatively human, and eating them gives her visions of the memories of the deceased. With this bizzare new power, Liv decides team up with a homicide detective named Clive Babineaux and solve murders with the help of her visions.
It’s an incredibly cheesy show, but what’s refreshing is it knows that it’s cheesy.
The first two seasons are full of action, character development, and subplot after subplot after subplot. I would try and explain them all to you but I don’t want to ruin the magic.
Now, if you’re still with me, you’re probably thinking this is the cheesiest idea for a show you’ve ever heard. Let me tell you right now: you’re right. It’s an incredibly cheesy show, but what’s refreshing about it is that it knows that it’s cheesy.
Unlike some other action-y supernatural(wink)-y shows that try to stay serious and end up becoming parodies of themselves, iZombie takes a very ridiculous-sounding premise and makes it work with clean, comic book style character designs that are vibrant and snarky. Through these devises, they take control of their own dramatic irony.
Sidenote: Not since American Psycho have I gotten to see a bad guy who’s just as engrossed in the music playing while he commits crimes as he is in the crimes themselves.
Speaking of music, another fantastic thing about iZombie is that it’s peppered with classic music and pop culture references. Whenever the show comes back from commercial, the frame starts as a static comic panel which fades into the actual show after a second. Each of these comic panels has a little tagline that almost always feature some sort of relevant pun.
Some of my favorites include “Feed me – see more” (a Little Shop of Horrors Reference), “Bros before po-po’s”, and “Et tu, Bro-te?”. They’re funnier in the context of the show, but even outside of it, they’re gems.
Throughout the show there are also jokes referencing songs we all know; stuff like “shot through the heart” “and who’s to blame?” aren’t usually what you’d expect to hear from a show that technically fits into the same genre as NCIS, but that’s what makes it so great. That, and have you ever wondered what a fight sequence would be like if it were set to The Cure’s ‘Friday, I’m in Love?’ I never did, but thanks to this show I can tell you that it is spectacular.
Have you ever wondered what a fight sequence would be like set to The Cure’s ‘Friday, I’m in Love?
Earlier I mentioned that iZombie’s detective work is evocative of Veronica Mars, and that’s because they share something very important: Rob Thomas. No – not that Rob Thomas (and trust me that’s a joke they’ve made on this show), the Rob Thomas who wrote Veronica Mars and has developed iZombie along with Diane Ruggiero-Wright.
Anyone who remembers Veronica Mars from the mid-2000s will remember the awesome teen detective drama vibe it held, and while iZombie is a very different show and Liv is no Veronica, there’s a little whisper of it that carried over into this show. In season 2 episode 11 (“50 Shades of Grey Matter”) of iZombie, there’s even a little Easter egg joke pointing back at Veronica Mars.
This isn’t to say that iZombie is perfect, however. While the show boasts a strong female lead and diversity in its characters, its portrayals of women and minorities can sometimes be a little cringey. It took me a while to realize this, but Liv only eats one woman’s brain for every two or three men’s brains, and a disproportionate amount of them are pointedly obnoxious characters like a social media obsessed teenager, a crazy stalker wedding planner, or a spoiled housewife.
Also there’s the character Pam, who has appeared once in each season, and reads like a stereotype that is pretty offensive to black women. Throw all that in with some classic CW queerbaiting between Ravi and the character Major and you have yourself a show.
Even recognizing these flaws, it’s still a really good show, and one that I will continue to watch and I hope you will, too. I hope that in the coming seasons there will be more representations of diversity, not just racially, but also in terms of sexuality (there are no out LGBT+ main characters as of yet) and gender.
For more suggestions of binge worthy goodness, check out our other recommendations!
Also published on Medium.