iZombie: Dying of Self-Inflicted Wounds

Monday , 17, July 2017 47 Comments

Look, it’s really hard to get passionate about just okay stuff. With great stuff, you can tell people “WATCH THIS NOW OR YOU’LL MISS OUT ON THE GREATEST THING EVER!”, and with bad stuff you can tell people “DON’T EVER READ THIS EVER OR YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN WILL BE WEEPING TEARS OF BLOOD THEIR ENTIRE LIVES!”, but with just okay stuff you’re just like “Yeah, I played it. It was fine.” Which brings us to iZombie.

Yeah, I watched it. It was fine. Until this season, at least. Then it took a nosedive from “marginally watchable” to “marginally unwatchable”.

What do you say when something kinda meh goes bad? “YOU RUINED MY CHILDHOOD!” is waaaaaaaay too hyperbolic (even for me): you can’t work up a really good sense of betrayal at losing something that hasn’t been around that long, and wasn’t all that good to begin with. When the truly mediocre takes a nosedive, all you can say is “OK, guess I’ll watch something else then.” (Which just takes all the fun out of hyperbolically ranting about it.)

So what killed the zombie show? Something something clever metaphor Mozambique Drill: “Two to the chest, face gets the rest.”

Shot One: Disappearing up its own anus. iZombie began as a pretty formulaic Police Procedural (what my generation used to call “cop shows” or “mysteries”) with an interesting hook: the main character was a zombie. Not a classic voodoo zombie, nor yet a Romero shambling zombie, nor even a modern fast zombie, but that hyper-modern strain I call lucid zombies. Lucid zombies keep their mind and personality, and usually gain some funky superpowers, but ceaselessly crave human flesh. (They’re like IRS employees that way.)

When the iZombie herself eats the brains of crime victims, she gets flashbacks to their life before they died, which are clues to help her and her partner solve the crimes. Plus, her personality changes to match that of the victims, meaning one week she was a gambling addict, the next a Mr. Rogers style (but also philandering) schoolteacher, and the next an adrenaline junkie extreme sports enthusiast. Neat little hook, made for a neat little show, and so long as the show stuck to the Police Procedural formula of “one case per episode, case being usually solved this episode”, the show worked.

This season, however, the show got lost in a long-running metaplot about zombie military mercenaries and who actually killed a dominatrix and whether the zombie running for mayor needed to be stopped or helped and a bunch of other interminable crap nobody cared about. Basically, the show dropped most of the mysteries, and what mysteries it did let on the air were never solved. For a Police Procedural, this is a death knell.

Now, none of this is to say the show is entirely bad. It still manages to impress: the Dungeons & Dragons show was pretty good, but even that episode (a high point of the season) cheated you out of solving the mystery. The case was just kinda shuffled off screen, “Russian hackers”, and was never mentioned again. Disappointing.

Shot Two: Hollywood hates humans. It never fails: give a monster some human emotions and relatability, and Hollywood will take their side every time. It happened with vampires, it happened with The Planet of the Apes, and it happened with iZombie.

Yes, the main character is an iZombie who you’re supposed to empathize with, but that was fine. So long as she was (almost) the only one. But when I’m expected to empathize with countless numbers of flesh-eating freaks, and all of the characters who don’t are made purposefully repellent, it begins to grate. ESPECIALLY when the zombie conspiracy theorists turn out to be right, not just morally but factually: zombies were real, they had infested city power structures, and the zombies were planning something big and evil. Spending the entire season making the anti-zombie forces look like total losers was a massive error. Even if you wanted them to be villains, have them be scary and competent villains, not losers.

Shot Three: Insulting your audience. It wasn’t just that the zombie-hunters were made repellent, it’s HOW they were made repellent that added insult to injury. According to the show, the poor, helpless victim zombies infesting Seattle were being picked on (and occasionally picked off) by stupid unwashed racist gun-nut Southerner right-wing government-distrusting conspiracy theorists (with a secret base in the basement of a local gun range) who only wanted to kill the poor, innocent, highly infectious brain-eating monsters slowly spreading through the population of Seattle eating the brains of the recently-dead and still-living alike.

The bastards.

It is a manifestly stupid idea—to which Hollywood is nonetheless wholly addicted—to insult, demean, and sneer at your audience. Right Wing people watch TV too. Shocking, but true.

You know who ISN’T watching TV? iZombie fans. Since its debut season, the number of viewers has dropped by half. Almost a million people just walked away from the show.

The CW—iZombie’s parent network—has renewed the show for a fourth season, but if the numbers don’t pick up, it’ll probably be the show’s last. Which is sad, because it had some promise. It could have been pretty good.

As it is, the zombie show is dying of self-inflicted wounds, and right now I can’t even feel bad about that. It was fine, and then it wasn’t, and (as with The Walking Dead and Z Nation) now it’s time to move on.

Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

  • JD Cowan says:

    Just about all of CW’s series have fallen off a cliff this season. There must be something in the water over there.

    • Rigel Kent says:

      That “something in the water” is the poison of SJW Convergence. Lead would be less damaging.

    • cirsova says:

      Which CW series were on the cliff to start with?

      • Anthony M says:

        I thought season 1 of the Flash was flawed-but-fun before going absolutely off the rails.

        (You’re going to bring up the messed up romance shit and the weird stuff with his dad, and you will be right, but there was a lot of fun stuff there too.)

        Season 2 was bad.

        • cirsova says:

          Flash teased at being not terrible while it kept presenting Caitlin as a legitimate love interest for Barry. The characters and actors had more chemistry in those first couple episodes than the rest of the cast and series combined. Of course, being the CW, the writers had to put a stop to it, ASAP.

      • Vlad James says:

        That was my thought. Every CW series I’ve had the misfortune to watch has been absolutely dire from the first episode. Sometimes, I couldn’t even suffer through the entirety of the premiere.

      • Jasyn Jones says:

        Supernatural. Great for the first 5 seasons.

  • Anthony says:

    I got hooked up to mid season 3. It’s not great by any means, but I like the lead and the way they play with the personality shifts can be really amusing.

    I did, however, start to catch these problems as well. Call it X-Men disease.

  • Anthony says:

    Also, that’s my one thing with PotA. The trailers for the new one look really good, but I really need to wonder if it’s worrh watching another “Humans are bad, m’kay?” screed for the special effects.

  • Lex says:

    This is such bullshit. Oh no, the zombie show had an overarching story that adds more than the repetitive cop storyline. Boo-freaking-hoo. Use your brain cells every once in a while. This season was just as good as the others.

    • Anthony M says:

      Seriously, what is with the fanboys of these shows coming out of the woodwork for these reviews?

    • Trimegistus says:


      • Sam says:

        It’s pretty obvious that he can’t stand the idea that going full far-left retard was a bad thing. From the attempt at “broflake” to the insult to your intelligence, he’s only just short of one blatant tell per sentence.

        There’s a huge problem for those trying to cash in on zombie and apocalypse themes, and that is that more than the average split of their audience is right wing, gun or defence fans, or survivalist leaning according to research from a zombie webcomic).

    • Jr..lamp says:

      I agree and not to give away the ending but it wasn’t the white trash racist people that actually killed the zombies if you do your research or even watch the very last episode you’ll see it wasn’t them

      • Jasyn Jones says:

        I did watch the whole series. I didn’t mention that because it doesn’t change anything about the article, and I didn’t want to spoil the show for those who hadn’t gotten that far. (I alluded to it in my comments about the evil zombie conspiracy. Hoped people who’d watched it would understand the allusion.)

        It was still stupid, and arrogant, and insulted a large portion of their audience.

    • Jr..lamp says:

      I agree and not to give away the ending but it wasn’t the white trash racist people that actually killed the zombies if you do your research or even watch the very last episode you’ll see it wasn’t them… I eagerly await the next season….

  • Dan Wolfgang says:

    I remember reading the first volume of the comic the show is based off of, and liking it well enough. Couldn’t stand watching even five minutes of the show though.

  • cirsova says:

    While I still enjoyed it through the 3rd season, it became clear with the end of season 2 that it was going to become, for better or worse, a radically different show with a radically different story and approach to the narrative.

    Its biggest strength was some great scenery chewing character actors who had a ton of fun with the premise, but season 3 saw a lot of them become much less likable. I don’t expect it to last beyond its 4th season.

  • PerezHBD says:

    Irony is show creator Rob Thomas is one of the least PC guys in Hollwyood. Made an entire episode his fantastic comedy series Party Down centered around a college Young Republicans Convention without a single “Republican” joke. In Veronica Mars, the cool young liberal teacher that the kids all loved who was “wrongly” accused of sleeping with his students really did end up being guilty in the end. The homosexual mayor was revealed to be a pedophile.

    • NARoberts says:

      Huh, I didn’t stick with VM past the first season-and-a-half. Maybe I should watch the rest sometime.

    • Anthony says:

      I noticed one very weird thing – up to mid-season 3 where I am, there has not been a single gay character. Not even background.

      Nowadays this is VERY unusual, especially for a CW comic book show.

  • truth says:

    Right wing geeky fanboys are mad..because this show became too complex for them..boo hoo hoo..

    • NARoberts says:

      Truth is telling us off boys, I guess we gotta pack up and go home now…

      • Sam says:

        Fans of zombie and apocalypse themes are more right wing than average, boo hoo. Piss them off and you lose 2/3 of your audience, boo hoo.

    • Vlad James says:

      truth is the epitome of a sissy pajama boy, a blithering idiot who thinks he’s intelligent, AND an example of how lame and predictable leftists are with their insults.

      Congrats on the trifecta!

  • Mr shue says:

    I think you have a valid point. I didn’t like some of the stuff they went with. But it is definitely a show that has a concept you have never seen give it time it will unwrap.p.s. liv and major needs to get back together and i think they will when they are cured.

  • Noah says:

    Stop shitting on the show it’s awesome

  • GLEEMAN says:

    See alot of HATING, but no one here can do better! So WATCH IT or don’t, or make something better ,since you know so much, or likely just keyboard warriors

  • Tamra says:

    Here’s to another “headuperass” critic.

  • Terri Hudson says:

    I love cw shows. I think I zombie is great. Arrow is the very best. But the Originals is my very favorite. I could binge watch them all. I hope they’re all around for a long time

  • George Haefner says:

    Writers of the izombe series ought to find a job, because they are the blame. I like izombie. Get it right please!

  • Rusty says:

    If you don’t like it, stop watching and stop whining.

  • I have imagination says:

    IZombie is a great show and its good the writers are changing it up. If was the same thing every episode: liv eats a brain to solve a case… Well that gets boring. I hope they renew it for another season so its not left on a cliffhanger. Most of the CW shows are good and their good at keeping things interesting

  • Jonathan mills says:

    I think they should include izombie in a crossover with arrow, the flash and supergirl and legends of tomorrow. For a zombie apocalypse in the D.C. Universe.

  • James says:

    The CW doesn’t have any great shows. All of their shows are decent time killers that show how far the bar has been lowered.

    That being said, the work the actors put into it, I (almost) never feel like their phoning it in, which for me, makes their respective shows better.

    I think iZombie should have run three seasons (not through 3 yet, but seems the writers are running out of ideas for Liv). It’s not the kind of show that can run very long on the given premise.

  • David says:

    I am impressed with how well the CW fans monitor the internet for the latest mention of their favorite shows.

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