It’s a tale as old as time. Girl meets boy, girl makes friend at work who encourages her to go to a party, party is pumping with a brand-new designer drug that turns people into zombies, girl is an innocent infected bystander, and her new condition alienates everyone including boy and curses her with eternal ennui.
And also visions.
Okay, so it’s not a terribly traditional zombie tale. But it is a lot of fun.
The CW’s newest show, iZombie, kicked off Tuesday with a witty and entertaining pilot episode starring:
- Rose McIver as Liv Moore – morgue assistant who must occasionally pilfer a brain to go with her noodles
- Rahul Kohli as Ravi Chakrabarti – Liv’s boss who helps her cover up her secret while he researches a cure
- Malcolm Goodwin as Clive Babineaux– the newest addition to the Seattle PD homicide division, who enlists Liv’s help on an unsolvable case
- Robert Buckley as Major Lilywhite (aka the best name for a generic white guy ever) – as Liv’s ex-fiance
- Aly Michalka as Peyton Charles – Liv’s roommate and friend who tries to keep Liv engaged in the human world (shes not a regular, but since she was the most touching part of the pilot, she deserved placement with them)
So far, Ravi is the only person who knows Liv’s secret, which leaves her family and friends frustrated at Liv’s new detached and disinterested personality.
OUAT’s David Anders is also listed as a regular. He plays Blaine DeBeers, whose drugs caused the outbreak. He was also the one who turned Liv. Merlin’s Bradley James will have a recurring role as Lowell Casey. From fandom observations, he seems to be the most highly anticipated part of the show.
Fans of Vertigo Comic’s iZombie series will notice a few key differences. Like. All of them. The adaptation has abandoned or rewritten all of the characters, keeping only the most basic premise: Gravedigger Gwen Dylan/mortician Liv Moore must eat a brain periodically to survive, which gives her visions of the unlucky soul who donated it.
Cue crime-solving montage.
It’s hard to tell at this point whether the show will use the comic’s mythology, which includes variations on werewolves and ghosts as well as zombies.
The series is produced by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright. They worked before on the fan favorite TV show Veronica Mars, and their newest drama has some clear parallels. The lead character suffers an intense trauma before the start of the show that alienates her from her ex and her family. For Veronica Mars, it was her rape. The resulting show lead to a controversial, but well-crafted exploration of class privilege, racism, and rape culture.
For Liv, the clear metaphor for her zombie-induced detachment is depression.
It’s a pretty good metaphor. She is disinterested in the old parts of her life, she pushes away her friends and family, she eats a lot of chips while staring vacantly at whatever happens to be on the television screen. When her friends try to intervene, she says, “I don’t have post-traumatic stress. I have post-traumatic ennui. Post-traumatic defeatism. Post-traumatic ‘what’s the point?’”
Sounds like depression to me.
And to me, this is the part of the show with the most potential. According to the ADAA, 18% of the adult US population has some kind of anxiety or depressive disorder. The NCBI says that depression affects nearly 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 teens. It’s a serious problem that is very rarely addressed in the media. After all, who wants to watch a TV show about someone who can’t seem to do their laundry? It’s not much in the way of entertainment.
But someone with all the same symptoms who also happens to be a crimefighting zombie? People will watch that. People will learn to recognize the symptoms. And if the writing is handled very carefully, people could learn a lot. About how to fight depression, what it looks like, and, most importantly, how to interact with depressed people.
As for the rest of the pilot, it was pretty standard fare. It was droll as heck, which I loved. It was well-paced and adequately-plotted. The strengths were in the character interactions between Liv and Peyton, and Liv and Ravi.
Peyton’s attempts to break through Liv’s stupor were justly heartwarming, but the best moment was the look on Liv’s face when Ravi told her there might be a cure.
“Why did you think I was running all those tests?” he asks. “You- you were expecting to stay like this forever?”
From her expression, it’s pretty clear: that’s exactly what she thought. And that’s exactly what depression feels like.
Maybe Liv’s zombism won’t go on forever, but I kind of hope this show does.
Tune in March 24th for episode two, “Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?”
Follow Word of the Nerd on
Keep calm and nerd on!