Here's Why 'iZombie' Is Better Than 'The Walking Dead'


The Walking Dead may attract huge numbers of eyeballs, but when it comes to brains, iZombie has it beaten to death. The new CW show splices together two gene pools — an excellent comic-book source (a 2010-12 Vertigo Comics series from Mike Allred and Chris Roberson) and TV-adaptation by Veronica Mars’s Rob Thomas and Dianne Ruggerio-Wright — to create a charming and even, yes, inspiring new series.

Liv (Rose McIver) is a studious, budding young heart surgeon who’s bitten by zombies after she reluctantly attends a wild party. (Not the least of iZombie’s refreshing subtexts is the belief that as often as not, it’s better to just stay home and read a book.) Flash-forward five months later, and Liv is a depressed zombie who’s lost the will to pursue her career and the guy to whom she was engaged. As she voiceovers us: “I have post-traumatic ennui.”

Abandoning her studies, she takes a slacker job in a morgue, mostly just to be near some of the fresh brain matter she needs to eat to stay alive. But in the genre-dominated pop culture we live in, morgue equals death equals murder, an equation that compels Liv’s instinctively curious intellect to try and solve a few crimes between bites of brain doused in hot sauce.

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You can trace the lineage of the TV version of iZombie back beyond Veronica Mars (clever voiceover; intelligent if reluctant female semi-hero) to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (monster-movie lore as a metaphor for Otherness, alienation, and the cleansing threat feminism poses to everyday misogyny).

Unlike so many TV shows featuring fast-talking twentysomethings, iZombie doesn’t trade on cheap cynicism or jaded moodiness. At the start of the pilot, Liv is truly in despair that she will never have a happy life. At the end of the hour, she’s given us thrills, laughs, and hope: “I can choose to be a decent person,” she tells us. Turns out being undead is the most enlivening thing she’s ever experienced, and it gives iZombie a rush few other new shows possess.

iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.