Culture Watch: iZOMBiE

[Light Season 1 spoilers ahead]

Look, at first blush I had an extreme aversion to this show. Zombies? Yawn. Overplayed, rarely any new, interesting takes on the genre. That unnecessary lower-case “I” tacked onto the title? A completely meaningless branding tactic to wave a modern, millennial flag. But here’s the thing: iZOMBiE is a wonderful, invigorating show. It’s sharp and fresh and just goddamn enjoyable.

Liv Moore (get it?) attends an ill-fated party that is the nexus of a zombie outbreak, gets scratched, wakes up…well, undead. A doctor before she was turned, Liv transfers to the city morgue so she can satiate her newfound taste for brains. Here’s where it gets fun: when Liv eats someone’s brain she inherits some of the loved one's memories and personality traits. With this new ability she joins forces with Detective Clive Babineaux to solve Seattle’s suspicious murders (he thinks). The show harnesses a wit and moxie reminiscent of Veronica Mars, thanks to Mars writing alumni Rob Thomas and Dan Etheridge, with a hint of Pushing Daisies undead-detecting and a dash of Quantum Leap role playing. And it works like hell.

Most of the general public is completely unaware any of this is going on.

So how does this outbreak flare in the first place? A mixture of extreme energy drink Max Rager and a bad batch of a new designer drug called “Utopium” unleashes mayhem on the party-goers. But the city covers it up, and Blaine, our bad-guy drug dealer who turns Liv, is out on the loose killing at-risk youth to sell brains to the rich, who he’s zombified solely to extort into paying exorbitant prices for their “meals.” This becomes the through-line for the series as Liv and her boss, Ravi (who immediately accepts the zombie situation and dives right in to being helpful, thank God), investigate the Max Rager company and the corrupt brain delivery service. Most of the general public is completely unaware any of this is going on. In a fresh twist, most of the zombies can pass with a little self-tanner and hair dye, as long as they can feed on a semi-regular basis.

The show plays around with some other gimmicks and a lot of fun relationship dynamics with Liv’s friends and family, but I’ll let you get to know that world on your own. The second season is currently airing on The CW, with episodes available on Hulu, as well as the first season presently streaming on Netflix. So, a binge is on your horizon if you’re interested.

TLDR: iZOMBiE is a refreshing take on a well-worn genre, enjoyable to fans of Veronica Mars and witty mystery procedurals. If you’re looking for a fun show that entertains and isn’t too heavy, you’ve found it. 4 out of 5 bite marks.