iZombie Season 4 Makes Zombies Feel Fresh Again
Note: Fair warning, there will be iZombie spoilers in this piece, but if you don't watch the show, trust me...these spoilers may make you start watching.
Zombies are dead. What thousands of rounds of bullets, katanas, and flamethrowers could never do has been dismantled merely by the passage of time. If you can believe it, it's been 16 years since 28 Days Later rocked the foundations of horror, proceeded two years later by the smash remake of Dawn of the Dead. And while zombies did have an uptick in the 00's, it wouldn't be until 2010 and the premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead that the zombie phenomenon would hit critical mass. Eight years later, though, fatigue has set in. The glut of zombie films and TV have saturated the market so much that the thought of watching another rag tag group of survivors trying to survive while showing that the true monster is man himself sounds like the wooooorst.
But not all is lost. When The Battery was quietly released in 2012, it hit a nerve in the horror community because of how outside of the box the creatives treated "the z-word", and this unique care presented one of the freshest takes on zombies since, well, 28 Days Later. And then came along iZombie.
The CW show, with it's fourth season premiering later this month, was originally a Vertigo Comic before being developed into a TV series on 2015. The series was created by Rob Thomas, best known for the incredible high school noir Veronica Mars and event planning comedy Party Down. The show follows Liv Moore (Rose McIver and oh yes, strap yourself in for some ACES character names) who, will attending a boat party, is turned into a zombie. Upon discovering that if she does not eat brains (and they ONLY eat brains), she will devolve into appearing and attacking like a stereotypical zombie, she takes a job at the morgue to eat the brains of corpses she autopsies, rather than killing innocents. The catch is though, when she eats any persons brain, she will take on elements of that persons personality and memories, helping her track down who committed the murder.
The show follows a very familiar procedural plot for a large majority of the series. With Rob Thomas' adept skill at witty repartee between his characters, the show is smart, quick, and extremely witty while also having it's tongue firmly in its cheek. Case in point, the showrunners name is Rob Thomas, though you may be thinking of the other Rob Thomas from the 90s band Matchbox 20. Well showrunner Rob knows this so he put musician Rob, playing himself, in an episode...just to have them hilariously devoured by zombies. It's great. And while I know procedural shows can be a turn off for some, in the context of a "zombie story", it's wildly refreshing.
Thomas and crew's take on the zombies are so unlike what audiences are stereotypically accustomed to that in this TWD fatigue it might be exactly what will work in its favor to gain more viewers in this upcoming, game changing, fourth season. And it's this fourth season that may win over longtime iZombie decriers.
At the end of Season Three we discovered that a Fillmore-Graves executive had introduced a deadly disease into the public, using vaccinations for the disease to turn humans into zombies. Before Fillmore-Graves can fix the problem, it is too late and Chase Graves (Jason Dohring) must proceed with the plan after which their company would maintain the co-existence of humans and zombies in the world post "Discovery Day": the day in which zombies are revealed to be real. Meanwhile, Ravi (Rahul Kohli), Liv's partner in crime, has been synthesizing a potential vaccine for the zombie virus and in the last moments, upon ingesting the vaccine, tells Liv to scratch him to see if it works.
And that's where we are at the beginning of season 4, uncharted territory for any zombie IP out there. Zombie narratives typically are about the pursuit of the "cure", but never actually addressing it. We know that if they find a cure, and there are no more zombies, that's when people tune out. But with this, it's clear that iZombie doesn't have an open ended, muddied narrative like TWD does, and rather than shoving countless new seasons at us that feel starkly familiar to the past seasons, iZombie offers us what we desperately need: NEW.
If you haven't been watching iZombie, I implore you to give it a shot when season four premieres on February 26th. If you want to catch up stream season one through three NOW on Netflix. Check out the season four trailer below!