When I got access to Netflix for the first time, I was looking at potential shows to watch. I like to start with the “just ok” and leave the best for the end, so when I noticed iZombie, I decided it’ll be the first for me to watch. It looked strange, had silly name, etc - so I thought it’ll be meh. And let me tell you, I didn’t realize what kind of journey I am getting myself into.
iZombie is a criminal show, much like CSI and the likes. Most episodes follow murder-of-the-week style - each episode is a different murder case to solve, and there’s just some of background and ‘meta’ story plotted into this. But this show has one huge spin on the formula. Yes, you guessed it - it’s zombies.
So it must be about standard The Walking Dead-style zombies, who are dumb, decomposing and just will murder anything that’s alive. Yet another show like many, right? Right?!
In the iZombie universe, people infected with “zombism” don’t turn into brainless murderous monsters as long as they… eat brains. Yes - the author of the comic, Chris Roberson, said in one of interviews that zombies want brains, but no zombie story bothered to answer why, se he decided to focus on that.
When a zombie in this universe eats a brain, he/she ‘inherits’ personality of the person they ate a brain of, and also have ‘visions’ of memories of that person. The main character of the show, Oliva “Liv” Moore (get it? Live more!) was a doctor, but after she became a zombie, she got herself hired at a police morgue in Seattle to get a constant supply of brains. She started getting visions of the dead people and then started using them to help police officer Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) solve murder cases. Now that’s a spin on both zombie and crime genres!
Brain of the Week
Almost every episode is a different brain, and therefore a acompletely different Liv personality. Without getting into any big spoilers - we had frat boy Liv, gamer Liv, or even stripper Liv. Each of personalities were taken to extreme, even stereotypical level. As we know, humans tend to have a blend of personalities and also control themselves to stay “normal” - but not Liv on brain. She would quickly change her garderobe, and would make the personality really obvious and stand-out. Other characters in that universe definitely were like “wtf, no one changes themselves this much”!
Such over-the-top personalities often gave the show really comedic vibes. Olivia would often go off-the case because the personality of the eaten brain would beat her self-control. One of the most prominent examples are frat boy Liv who wouldor . These are just one of the more extreme examples, but this show has 71 episodes, most of which featured a different brain. This in result gives a ton of different hilarious moments in the entire series.
For a crime show, this one doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that’s good, as it makes it easier to watch, and excuses the “strange” spins on the genres. I personally don’t mind the spins themselves, but I believe that many people could. But because this show is so light, you watch it without trying to find scientific and logical explanation to everything.
Most of crime shows have a drama show element in them, and iZombie is no exception. In fact, iZombie might have more of it than an average CSI-like show. In these shows, such drama plots tend to get old and boring quickly, however iZombie has a zombie apocalypse to play with. This means that the drama in Seattle isn’t just about romance and cheating (although this appears as well), but also about more pressing matters - such as illegal brain dealership, a city-ruling drug lord, greedy and rogue companies, and of course the zombies themselves.
Honestly, unlike many shows, the drama in iZombie had elements of a thriller in it. It’s designed really well. For example, with The X-Files, the conspiracy episodes annoyed me, and I really wanted to watch only the monster-of-the-week ones. With iZombie, the non-crime-solving plots kept me constantly interested, and sometimes even worried, breathless or shocked. This is probably a big part of what got me so involved until the very last episode.
The show is loosely based on the comic with the same name, but loosely is the keyword here. The characters and stories are completely different than the comic ones, which gave the writers - Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright - a huge playground with a lot of flexibility. They were free to write up any story they wanted, and damn, did they use that power right.
Characters in this show have really great progression. You can see them evolve, but do it in a well paced and natural way. Major who started as just Liv’s ex but over time started playing a very important role in everything that was happening. Blaine who started as a drug dealer, but by the end of a show was widely a recognized person. Ravi who started as a nerdy boss of Liv, but very quickly became one of the most likeable characters in TV history. And of course Liv who started as a lost and depressed girl, but found her purpose on this world… these are just examples.
Of course progression is one thing, but the characters have to be varied, charismatic and interesting enough too. And they for sure are. The best example would be Blaine. He is the villain of this series, but his personality is so well defined and written so you geinuinely want this character to stay in the show. This is amazing - the great evil characters are the ones you hate and are happy to see disappear, but the best evil characters are the ones that you hate but at once love enough to want to keep them in the show. And Blaine is among the best ones.
Blaine is not the only one though. All of the main characters are so well written, so you’re not indifferent about any of them. I mean it - Liv, Ravi, Clive, Major, Peyton, Blaine, even Don-E - I cared about all of them.
Writing also deserves applause for being so self-aware. As I mentioned, this show doesn’t take itself seriously, which makes it really fun to watch. Some one-episode character saying that there should be a show where the main character should be a zombie, or a standup comedy about zombies being named “Hi, Zombie!” are the best examples of meta-jokes this show pulls off. But there are way more - as a gamer, I personally can’t forget how unaware of the zombie-Liv situation Major was playing Dying Light.
This show also includes a massive amount of cross-references to other shows and culture. Star Wars and Game of Thrones are referenced all the time, but I also caught other references, for example characters saying wich one of Friends characters they are, or some lady mistaking Liv for Kristen Bell (who is playing the main character of Veronica Mars - an another show directed by Rob Thomas).
Great writing is important but it won’t get you far without great actors. Don’t worry though, this show has got that, too!
First thing (that’s probably most easy to notice) is that their looks matched the personalities of the characters they played just perfectly. When you first see David Anders as Blaine DeBeers, you instantly know that this character will be causing trouble (no offense, David!). Malcolm Goodwin looks like you’d expect a cop doing investigation to look, and Aly Michalka definitely gave Peyton Charles the ‘professional’ look. But these just are a few most obvious picks - most of the actors looks really just fit the characters.
But looks are ‘shallow’, right? So how did the actors actually act? I can only say positive things here, too.
All main characters were portrayed really believably - I had no doubts such people could actually exist and behave the way they do (well, besides the entire zombism thing). Here I have to bring David Anders as Blaine DeBeers again - when Blaine at the begining of season 2, I actually felt bad for that guy. Another great example is Major Lillywhite played by Robert Buckley - the actor seems like an ‘always cheer’ type of a guy, but he managed to make Major clearly seem like a guy who went through a lot, is going through even more, and never has it easy during the course of events of the show. And Dr Ravi Chakrabarti - oh Ravi, Rahul Kohli was a perfect fit for your character. After this show, I just don’t know how to distrust Rahul with anything.
In general the main actors playing in this show all seem to be always… just fun on all interviews etc. And they manage to convey that positive energy into the entire show. I can’t imagine this show working out like it did if it had any other cast.
I picked only a few characters/actors specifically here just because I don’t want this to become a lengthy listing of every single one of them, but nearly every person from the cast did an amazing job. I’ve seen some bad acting in my life, and this show barely had any of that - none if you skip any side character, as all main ones were brilliant. But there is one that stands out, above all other…
New Brain, New Liv
Rose McIver played Olivia Moore, the main protagonist of this show. That alone means that we’ve seen many faces of miss Liv - cheerful and happy, upset and sad, and even raging. And what’s most important, you could believe and feel for her in all of these cases. Also, when I said that actors did a great job conveying positive energy into the show - Rose did it even better. But basically, we could summarize Rose McIver/Liv Moore as “all what was said about cast before, but even better”. But there’s something significant that is different with this one…
The core part of the show is that Liv Moore eats brains, and inherits personality and memories of the person that brain belonged to. And as I mentioned, the inherited behaviour is over-the-top, comedic and stereotypical. Now combine these 2 things. You know what I’m getting at?
With each episode Rose played an effectively different, new character. A change every week. And these changes were not subtle - as Rose said many times, she actually needed to learn new skills for each episode.
However, she managed to play these different personalities amazingly. She turned each episode into a cherish. All these things combined make me rank Rose McIver among the greatest actors and actresses ever. Yes, I said it - she’s one of the best. Nearly every episode is a different character, and yet her acting still is quite believable (well, as believable you can get when the personality is over the top)? Yeah, there’s no beating that, if you ask me.
Oh, and bonus points: she looks absolutely stunning.
The show has total of 71 episodes, spanning total of 5 seasons. The show starts calmly, with things and events getting more and more significant with each season. I personally like seasons 1 and 2 the most - it had that kinda humble feeling to it, and it mostly kept to the core idea of the show. Later seasons, and especially seasons 4 and 5 (when) started playing with the formula. The core of show still was murder-of-the-week, but the events started playing bigger and bigger role, and the show started getting more into that “drama” part.
For these reasons I liked seasons 3 to 5 less than seasons 1 and 2. But I can’t say I disliked them. Far from, the show was consistently fun from start to finish.
“Only” 5 seasons gives me mixed feelings. It feels like there could be more - and I want more for sure. I seriously wouldn’t mind seeing more adventures of Olivia, Ravi, Major, Clive, Peyton and others. But on the other hand - going for too long is a bane of many shows. When something goes on for too long, it becomes boring, and sometimes even tedious. iZombie didn’t - and maybe that’s because it ended with 5 seasons? That said - if you ever give us a continuation, I’ll be there, I will watch it!
What also left me with some mixed feelings was the series finale. But do not worry, iZombie didn’t pull a Game of Thrones - the finale isn’t bad by any means, it’s actually quite good. But it’s not as good as I imagined it would be.
The most important issue with the finale is that it introduced so many events so it could easily be split into 2 or even 3 episodes - but it was all crammed into one. Because of that, all of these events were shown just briefly and not expanded on.
An another thing (note: this isn’t a bad one per se, just one that really stood out to me) I’d like to point out is that while the last season answered a lot of questions (unfortunately some in a cliche way - for example that it was
But speaking of the very final moments…
The last 10 minutes of the show were… strange. Still not bad, really - but definitely strange. But this one will be difficult to talk about without getting into spoilers, so here we come with a spoiler block - open only if you already finished the show!
After the explosion in the morgue, we have a 10 years jump. That threw me off, as not only it makes you disconnect from the events emotionally, but it also reduces possibilities for any continuations.
Then we see Clive, Peyton and Ravi on a VR interview. I found such interview ending to be quite cliche. We learn what happened to each of the main characters, and they honestly deserved such endings. But I’d definitely prefer if we got to actually see that “by ourselves”, not as interview and flashbacks.
One thing that’s really good and reduces the “aw bummer” of the show only having 5 seasons is the fact that this show has really good re-watchability. In fact, when I first started watching it, I watched only seasons 1 to 4, because season 5 wasn’t released yet. After that I took a long break, even after new season came out - I was just watching other things, doing other things etc - and only recently came back to it (this is why this IMO comes so late after the show has wrapped up).
But when I returned to the show, I decided to re-watch seasons 1 to 4 before starting the last one. And let me tell you - I had almost as much blast as I did when I was watching them for the first time! Of course I no longer had that surprise element because I already knew what is going to happen, but thanks to the length of my break and to how insanely good and entertaining this show is, I still had loads of fun.
And I plan to do it again! I’ll now take a break, and catch up with other shows - The 100 is likely to be the next on my list, but there for sure will be others - and after that I’ll come back to iZombie. I like it way too much to not do that!
But ‘iZombie’? Wtf?
Yeah yeah, I know. I really wish the show had a different name. Yes, I know, it’s sharing the same name as the original comic books, but this name does this show no favour.
Whenever I mention the show to my friends or family, they appear hesitant. Quite often when I ask why, they say they don’t feel like watching a show named “iZombie”. Sounds quite shallow, but can you really blame them? I don’t like that name either - it was one of the reasons why I classified the show as “probably meh” when I first saw it.
However I gave the show a chance, and honestly, I do not regret it.
iZombie is a hidden and underrated, but a beautiful and pure gem. Incredibly fun to watch, with great writing and amazing cast. I really think it should gain much more fame, it really deserves it. It might have a few shortcomings here and there, but they’re far from being significant compared to the entirety of the show.
As I mentioned earlier, when I got Netflix, I started with iZombie cause I thought it’ll be mediocre, not much better than just okay. Turned out I was wrong completely, and now I have a new favourite show that I recommend to everyone.
I like this show so much, so this has been my Discord avatar during every Christmas since 2018 (thanks to Yilian for editing the image for me!):
iZombie is now one of my favourite shows. Right now the only other competitor for that title is The Expanse - which one will win I cannot predict yet, as The Expanse is not yet finished. But iZombie definitely beats even masterpieces like The X Files, Friends or The 100 in my personal ranking.
As such, iZombie is the first thing to receive a special award in addition to 5 stars!
There’s only one reason why I regret watching iZombie - I have no more new iZombie episodes left to watch.