This week on iZombie‘s “Liv and Let Clive,” Liv and Ravi get tangled up in an ongoing case that is personal to Clive. Through their naivete and their distrust, they almost ruin everything.
And through sheer stupidity, iZombie almost ruins everything too.
I watched this week’s episode unfold with horror. It was bad. It was really bad. If you told me that this week’s episode was an elaborate hoax written by Chuck Lorre and someone else awful, I would probably believe you. That’s how drastically bad it was.
We’ll get to that in a second. Things that happened this week:
- Blaine got a spray-tan and continued his evil empire
- Major kicked out his roommate and got a girlfriend
- She seems super nice but Liv is falling into the trap of jealous girl-hate
- Liv’s disgusting little brother turned up
- Clive backstory involving a deep-cover case and a few dead colleagues
- He used to have an awful mustache
- Some good side comedy with Sean Millington and Ben Cotton as the dumb muscley henchmen
- Ravi and Liv are adorable at lying
- Ravi and Major are adorable at becoming friends and, eventually, roommates
- It’s less adorable that Liv is trying to disrupt her ex-fiance’s current relationships
- Blaine got ruthless with his uppity (but still dumb) henchmen
- Liv and Clive have unexpected parallels of “things happened to me that I can’t tell anyone” so that should be good
- That really nice black kid who was looking for his friend was killed and sliced open for brains
- I’m so glad I didn’t get attached to him or anything
- Oh wait I definitely did.
- I’m so glad he went through all that effort to get back on his feet just so he could be cut up in a kitchen somewhere
Everything was well-paced and whatnot. There were even some good things!
Ravi and Major becoming friends was very fun. Anyone familiar with the off-stage bromance between Rahul Kohli and Robert Buckley could see it shining through bright and clear. In fact, watching Ravi and Major stutter their way into camaraderie was probably the bright spot of this episode.
Also good was background on Clive. Before this episode, his character hasn’t really clicked. This is in no way Malcolm Goodwin’s fault, as he has been given almost nothing to work with. Toss in an undercover investigation gone sour, and some morally-grey activities to protect himself and his friends, and Malcolm gets a lot to work with. And then knocks it out of the park. Seriously, he did a great job.
On the downside, it wasn’t the best writing choice to explain Clive’s history by making him (the only black guy) look like a traitor for a solid half-episode. I really hate when writers do that. Making the black guy look like the bad guy makes the audience buy into harmful stereotypes. It makes them go “Ah yes this black person cannot be trusted. I knew it, because I secretly harbor disgusting prejudices. And now I’m vindicated!” After letting these people stew in their own smugness for most of an episode, pulling a five-minute ‘just kidding he’s actually a good guy’ doesn’t do much to fix the damage.
After all, SHIELD did this with Trip, but then people still had free rein to go “I still bet he’s a traitor,” or “Something about him doesn’t sit right with me,” and the classic “I don’t trust him,” for another half season. Oh, and then the writers killed him.
Basically, writers, don’t give people the grounds to be gross and racist. No one doubts Liv for all of her super-questionable activities. Why would you tell them to doubt Clive for going into a video store at the wrong time?
Unfortunately, this is not actually the worst thing that happened in this episode. So congrats to the writers of iZombie for deciding that black people, more or less, complex and worthy of respect. That’s good! I wish they hadn’t been so gross about it, but they have decided to respect you. The same thing can’t be said for nonbinary people, women, and Asian people.
This episode was a trainwreck.
First up! Nonbinary people. When Liv goes to research Clive’s past in the Vice department, she has a very droll voiceover wondering why Clive wouldn’t want to stay in such a delightful place. Unfortunately, the scene we are watching involves the arrest of two people who seem to be prostitutes. One is a black woman, marched past Liv in handcuffs at the opening of the scene. And the other is in the final beat of the monologue, the final “haha, isn’t it awful here?” uses the slow reveal of a bearded person in a dress.
What is supposed to be the joke here? Is it that anyone outside of gender norms is a criminal? Is it the fact that a masculine-presenting person wearing traditionally-feminine garb is funny because that person exists?
How lazy is it to use the pure shock value of a non-gender-conforming person as a punchline?
But wait. It gets worse. Next up in our list: women! Specifically, women who aren’t present. According to iZombie, it is okay for a pervy young man to go through a woman’s things, specifically to paw through her underwear drawer and sleep in her bed, so long as she isn’t there. She may have caught you last time, she may have set you crystal-clear instructions to stay out of her belongings, but so long as she isn’t there to stare disapprovingly at you while you do it, it’s a-okay.
The message comes across loud and clean when we find out that Liv’s little brother, Evan, has a crush on Liv’s roommate, Peyton. He’s going to express that affection by feeling up her bras when she’s not there. Liv delivers a half-hearted warning that he shouldn’t do that, he ignores it, and then he is hopefully seen as a lovable, incorrigible scamp for the rest of the episode.
Um, heck no.
A.) That’s disrespectful. People should not have to tell you “stay out of my underwear drawer” for you to recognize that as a boundary. In case you’re too dumb to know that’s a boundary, people telling you “stay out of my underwear drawer” should clue you in!
B.) That’s unacceptable behavior, and it should not be glossed over, let alone treated as quirky and cute. We don’t smile fondly at this behavior and go ‘boys will be boys!’
No. Boys will respect the boundaries of the people around them. Period.
And here we go, onward to our third, final, and most horrific mistake from the writers of iZombie. Did you know, readers, that Asia contains over 40 different countries with hundreds of ethnic groups, languages, and vastly different cultures? No?
That’s okay. Neither do the iZombie writers.
This week’s episode focused on an organized crime ring based in Chinatown. The criminals involved were all vaguely Asian. So naturally, this allows iZombie to go nuts with racial stereotypes.
Some of the worst offenses include
- Ravi joking that a dead Chinese man was probably kicked to death by a disappointed piano teacher
- Liv wishing wistfully that Chinese brains tasted like Chinese food
- You know, because there’s not a long and horrific connection between people of color and the white colonists who compare them to food as a method of dehumanization and dominance or anything like that
- And they definitely didn’t literally carve up a black kid to eat on camera or anything
- Also, American Chinese food is not even vaguely Chinese food so… what??
- Liv pretending to have yellow fever, or as Ravi calls it, a liking for ‘men of the Asian persuasion’
- But he did it as a JOKE
- So that’s okay then
- It’s not
- It’s really not
- The Chinese crime ring tortured people by putting wasabi in their eyes
- Wasabi is a Japanese plant, guys
- The video store has an entire back room of Asian porn
- Just in case Asia would have been misrepresented if we didn’t objectify their women
- Liv learns kung-fu from Sammy’s brain, because of course, all Asian people know kung-fu
- She uses it to fight AJ, who naturally also knows kung-fu, but not as well as the white person!
- Literally all of the Asian people seen alive in this episode are part of the crime ring
- Sammy, the body in the morgue who used to be Clive’s informant, is the only vaguely ‘good Asian’
- But he’s dead, which means that he reverts to the Gunga Din stereotype, or the idea that “the only good Asian is a dead Asian”
A.) Stop making Ravi say racist things. Ravi is a pure and good beacon of light. Stop it.
B.) I’m vomiting into a bucket right now. What the heck happened in this episode?
Last week, with the death of Marcie Kahn, iZombie killed off the only recurring woman of color in the whole show. I wish I had said more about that, because it would have been a good indicator for the landslide of racist and sexist crap that happened in this episode.
This kind of writing is lazy, out-of-touch, and inexcusable. I absolutely expect better from these writers. I demand better from these writers, because this was ridiculous. Actually, let me shout a message into the void for them real quick.
Dear iZombie writers:
It seems your intended audience is racist pre-teen boys who don’t want to think of girls as people or to admit that gender is more complicated than most people assume.
Is this really the kind of show you want?
Because if the answer is yes, I will remove myself from your audience.
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