What We’re Watching: ‘iZombie’ Proves Zombies Can Have Brains and Eat Them, Too








Liv weighing a brain in the morgue
The CW

We’re all pretty big zombie fans here at Review Geek. But while some of us like zombies in their original shambling form, I like mine with a little more brains than bite. Fortunately, iZombie offers just such a unique take on the iconic horror genre creature.

I stumbled upon iZombie a few years ago on Netflix and immediately fell in love with it. I sat at the edge of my seat laughing and crying my way through every single episode, enjoying the mix of crime and horror with poignant drama and gut-busting comedy.

In iZombie, Seattle medical student Liv takes a night off from her perfectly busy life to go to a boat party. But all hell breaks loose when she gets scratched by people doing a new designer drug called Utopium and wakes up undead in a body bag the next morning craving (you guessed it) brains.

Obviously, Liv realizes she has to keep her being a zombie a secret until she can figure out what’s happening and prevent the inevitable mass hysteria that zombie uprisings tend to cause. So, she ends up breaking off her engagement and giving up her prestigious medical residency to become a full-time medical examiner in the morgue so she can have easy access to brains. She (and we) quickly learns that, in order to retain her humanity and not go into “full-on zombie mode” (aka stereotypical stupid hangry zombie mode), she’ll have to eat brains on a regular basis.

And, alright, while that’s something we already knew about zombies, iZombie gives it a fun twist: Zombies temporarily take on the personality of the person whose brain they ate. On occasion, they’ll also have “visions” from that person’s life. Liv eats the brains of a murder victim, claims to be “psychic-ish,” then uses the visions to help solve that person’s murder case, while working alongside a detective and her fellow medical examiner (aka the only other person who knows her true identity).

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As the seasons progress, Liv eventually learns there are other zombies (no good zombie is without its horde, after all). But not all of them are as benevolent as Liv—some want to use the affliction to rake in millions selling brains to newly (and forcibly) turned zombies. Tension arises between humans and zombies, understandably, and we get to watch Liv and the rest of the cast navigate the virus, martial law, and other intense struggles.

While it’s fun to watch the hilarious brain-of-the-week episodes that make the first few seasons so good, what ultimately makes the show so great is how it weaves tragedy, frustration, family, love, and so so so much more into the overall plot. Yes, it’s heartwarming when Liv turns into a frat bro, a cranky old man, a Real Housewife, a D&D player, a rapper, and even a sucky hockey player with something to prove. But it’s equally heartbreaking when we see the myriad ways in which being turned into a zombie so profoundly impacted Liv’s life, even though she always finds it in her to push through with grace, strength, and determination.

The characters and viewers alike are constantly tested and rewarded with iZombie, but when you experience the various arcs and see how things turn out in the end, you’re ultimately left happy. Even if you hate zombies, this show’s outstanding writing—from its snarky dialogue to its vibrant plot—is something to experience in and of itself. It’s part police procedural, part horror, part supernatural, part romance, and part thriller, so with such a wide net cast, I’m pretty sure you and everyone else in your family will find something to like about the show right off the bat.

Various scenes from the show featuring Blaine and Liv
The CW

I eventually figured out that iZombie is based on a comic book series of the same name—created by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred—after taking a cue from the show’s comic book-style intro. I’ve read several issues but still believe the show is the wildly superior iteration (no offense to Chris and Mike). Don’t get me wrong, the comic book is solid, but this show flourishes because of the thrilling visuals it can pull off on the big screen (or, well, in your living room).

The TV show gets a lot right, like its casting, writing, and its biting sense of humor. Plus, with its clever names—like Liv Moore and Filmore Graves—and not-exactly-subtle sociopolitical commentary on humanity at large, every last detail of iZombie is well-thought-out. Heck, the show even has a satisfying ending. That pretty much makes it a unicorn in its own right.

iZombie is just a delight—a fun, clever, and entertaining delight. I can’t say enough good things about it! I love that it maintains the brain-eating trope of classic zombie lore while adding a new spin to things. Honestly, it’s a nice way to enjoy the lighter side of zombies for those of us who can’t stomach the excessive gore and violence that tends to accompany shows on the other end of the zombie spectrum.

It’s hard to talk about iZombie in greater detail without giving too much away, so just sit down on your couch and start watching. Oh!—but before you do, don’t forget to make yourself a big bowl of brains popcorn!

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