Hey there spice lovers, this thursday I’d like to talk about a show I started watching just for you.
The name is dire. A no-effort combination of its supernatural element of choice with some all too overused wannabe Apple branding. And the main character’s is even worse.
Olivia Moore, or “Liv” for short. How ironic.
But irony is only enjoyable when it’s coincidental. Or at least portrayed as such. This show goes from “my name is Liv Moore” to “I died” with no more than an “and” in between.
Forced irony like that is just cringy and the trailers set me up to expect little else from the rest of the show, implying that it would be a miserable forbidden love comedy with a supernatural secret forever just moments from discovery.
Oh and hot sauce shoehorned in as a dumb gimmick.
But, since I figured I shouldn’t just bring you things that I knew I liked, I powered through the first and second episode to bring you a review anyway. Then I watched episode three to be sure of my verdict and, to my surprise, ended up getting hooked enough to watch two whole seasons.
If you can look past the terrible naming, poor trailers and lacklustre opening theme (which is less than twenty seconds, by the way), iZombie is remarkably compelling.
It starts out with a pretty simple premise that should be familiar to anyone who’s watched the slightly older series, Psych: Main character tags along on police investigations and solves murders by pretending to have psychic powers.
Only, while she may not actually be psychic, Liv isn’t entirely faking it like that show’s star.
As the name of the show would imply, Liv’s a zombie. A self-conscious zombie who works in a morgue for brain access and takes on some of the memories and personality traits of those she eats.
Something that, on its surface, should make the show more episodic, leaving us with no consistent main character, but, in reality, acts as a way to drive the overarching plot forward. Without it feeling too forced.
At first, this plot has little to do with the fun and snarky cop drama of the week, instead focusing on Liv’s lost life. Along with her new struggle to put distance between herself and a fiancée that she can’t stand to hurt.
But, one way or another, hurting him is inevitable and, as the secret of her new existence begins to drive them both a little crazy, we start to see the dark underbelly of their town. Its drug dealers now working with grey matter and shady police already in on it all.
Its a comedic, self aware cop drama that knows full well how overdone the zombie apocalypse is and tries to turn it into something more intelligent than a brain-starved end of days.
And, all the while, there’s chilli.
Initially, I mistook this for a mere cash in on the weird cultural phenomenon that was sriracha’s rise to fame. But we see far more sauces than just that, alongside peppers, powders and other hot stuff.
It never seems like a major plot point, at least in my eyes, but it’s an ever-present theme that becomes relevant in more ways than you might think. And, while the actual science behind it is glossed over all too quickly, it is, most certainly, real.
In this photo (courtesy of srirachamovie.com), we can see the closest real life approximation of Liv’s condition. Not because these people are ravenous or isolated from the rest of humanity but because being on the international space station has massively distorted their sense of taste.
The effects of zero gravity (or at least zero perceived gravity) mean that blood is no longer pulled towards their feet and that their tongues swell up as a result. Their taste-buds lose a lot of their sensitivity and they tend to develop a love of strong flavours like garlic.
But spice, being more a sensation that a taste, is far less affected. It adds interest to food when flavour, sadly, can’t.
And that’s what we see in this show. People with very little blood pumping through their veins, by all accounts barely even alive, just trying to get something, anything, out of their food and drink.
Yet, with the advent of season two, this show looked to get something of a budget increase and things changed just a tad.
It wasn’t bad before but the hot sauce was water and season one didn’t have quite the same level of special effects, inhuman zombies or humour based on copyrighted music.
Where the second season really shined for me, though, was in its ability to make me hungry.
Instead of a sauce and brain filled pot noodle microwaved on screen or a preprepared pasta dish merely presented to the viewer, season two introduced a series of quickfire fiery food cooking montages done well enough to get my stomach rumbling, despite the suggestion of cannibalism.
Something that was not only impressive but also a clear character development, showing Liv coming to terms, at least somewhat, with undeath.
Enough about her, though.
From what I’ve read, the internet’s favourite character seems to be her ex, “Major” Lillywhite. And I can see why.
He starts out as any girly rom-com’s idea of the perfect man. Good looking, buff and selfless, even going so far as to volunteer at a charity children’s shelter.
But the show breaks him. It forces the pair of them apart and it forces him to face the evils of the world. It forces him out of his bland, goody two-shoes role and gives him the most character development out of anyone. It makes him a bad ass.
But that doesn’t make him my favourite.
My favourite character in iZombie is Liv’s one direct superior and friend in the know, Ravi Chakrabarti.
He’s a british-born indian doctor in an american TV program so, of course, he has a rather sarcastic sense of humour but, despite that and despite the depressing nature of his job, he’s the most consistently upbeat of the entire cast. Not to mention a bit nerdy.
He may not be as integral to the plot but he’s a major part of the fun. The lighter side of the show that stops the inevitable death and gore from taking too much of a toll. I can’t help but appreciate him for that.
That doesn’t mean that those darker parts don’t exist, though. They do and they definitely warrant a
age rating, even with the sillier bits balancing them out.
It’s a seamless, well executed balance but I don’t think I can go into detail without spoiling anything. In fact, I think I’ve said everything I can for now so I’ll end things here.
See you next time, I’m off to watch the third season.