iZombie premiered last night with a fantastic pilot. The show tells the story of Liv Moore, a shy resident-in-training to be a heart surgeon who ends up being in a zombie attack. When she wakes up as a zombie, she’s afraid to tell any of her friends and loved ones, so she breaks up with her fiance and becomes a recluse. She also quits her job and starts working at a morgue in order to get access to brains she can eat. When she discovers that the brains she eats give her visions of memories from the deceased, she starts helping a police detective, reluctantly at first.
The show was a wonderful mix of character-driven pathos, comedy and action. Liv is one of the more immediately distinctive protagonists I’ve ever seen. The instant love you feel for her reminded me of watching the pilot of The Flash. It’s easy to be drawn in by how ultimately relateable she is. The harsh way her friends and family treated her after she became withdrawn and hopeless is a sad commentary on how people with depression or social anxiety are treated. Her fear of what will happen if anyone finds out about her will resonate with queer viewers. The most killer scene in the episode showed her dropping by her former fiance’s place and seeing through the window that he’s playing a zombie shooter game. This might feel too on the nose or overdone for some people, but it instantly connected with me and my experiences of being around loved ones who are enjoying media that’s aggressively hateful towards people like myself. In another scene, Clive Babineaux, the detective Liv is partnering with, proudly tells her how quickly he would be to kill all zombies if he ever encountered one.
Often it’s impressive if a pilot makes you connect with even one character right away, but in this show Ravi Chakrabarti, Liv’s boss at the morgue, is an immediately scene stealer. He figures out she’s a zombie and is completely casual and accepting about it, which gives their scenes a sweet, optimistic tone.
The one slightly frustrating thing about the show is that this is all metaphorical. It’s easily to get a little sad thinking that zombies are more palatable to people than, for instance, an actual depressed protagonist. But, the pilot also dealt with how thoughtless people are towards sex workers, so I’m hoping there will be a healthy mix of actual oppressed groups thrown in with all the metaphorical stuff.
The show also suffered from overuse of voiceover. It’s especially brutal in the first half. However, I’m hopeful that this is just a pilot thing. Overall, iZombie had a strong pilot and is well on its way to sitting with The Flash and Arrow at the top tier of D.C. adaptations.