When it was originally on: 2015-2019
Original network: The CW
Where you can stream it now: Netflix
Had I seen it before: Nope.
What IMDb says: A medical resident finds that being a zombie has its perks, which she uses to assist the police.
Why I picked it: The CW is one of my go-to sources for out-of-the-box television, and they tend to do a good job with it. I knew as The List was coming together that I’d want to include some of their off-the-wall premises to contrast some of the more run-of-the-mill stuff we see from the Big 4 networks. Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are among my personal favorites, but I had never given iZombie a chance before now. The Appointment Television Podcast is one of my main sources for what’s going on in the world of television, and all three of its hosts speak quite highly of this one. It seemed like a playful take on both the zombie trend of its time (this premiered in 2015) and the police procedural, and so it was worth a look.
What I liked: This one did an absolutely brilliant job of balancing procedural elements while still teasing enough long-term arcs to keep me interested. I get a strong sense for the rhythm of each episode: Liv will eat a brain. This will give her That’s So Raven-esque visions into the life of the deceased. She uses this superpower to help solve crimes.
Yet at the same time, the pilot also sets up dominos that it could spend the entire series knocking down. My favorite is the notion of a cure for the zombie virus. The only other person who knows Liv’s zombie status is her medical examiner partner, Ravi. Upon learning Liv’s secret, he earnestly begins examining her and mid-episode he says that it could take years, but there’s potentially a way to reverse her zombie-ism. Not only does this change Liv’s outlook on life (or death?) but it gives us something to root for beyond simply catching the bad guy of the week.
Then there’s also the fact that Liv’s mother, roommate, and ex-fiancé still don’t know she’s a zombie. They spend the whole show going “man, you CHANGED!” but being completely oblivious to her undeadness. Will they ever find out? What about the detectives that Liv is working with to solve mysteries? How long can she have inexplicable insight into dead people’s lives before someone gets suspicious? What lengths will Liv and Ravi have to go to in order to keep it a secret? All great questions that make me want to tune in next week. The pilot ALSO leaves the door open for other covert zombies. The notion that virtually any character we run into in this universe might be undead helps heighten the tension as well.
It’s easy for zombie stories to turn into nothing but gory monster-in-the-house type shit, but the good ones examine core themes of what makes life worth living. We get that here. The notion of a zombie watching life go on without being able to tell their family that they’re dead is fascinating. In its very first episode, iZombie drives home the mental and emotional toll that takes on Liv. We see her find out that her ex-fiancé is seeing someone new, and they’re even playing a zombie apocalypse video game. We see how this show isn’t just about solving murders, it’s also about Liv learning to relate to the world around her in different ways. It’s about her coming to terms with her new life or lack thereof, and all the baggage that comes along with that. I can already see how Liv might grow and change in interesting ways as we dive deeper into the show.
What I didn’t like: Liv’s mom and her best friend are a little annoying and underdeveloped, but I have the feeling that was intentional. It makes more sense to focus on Liv’s relationship with Ravi, so I’ll forgive them.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: This is a little bit of a take-it-or-leave-it deal for me. It’s good enough that I could certainly see myself getting into it, but there’s still what, 94 more pilots to get through? I’m not sure if this is the one I’ll be dying to watch more of when all is said and done.