Happy birthday to Rose McIver, star of the fantastic, are-you-watching-it-yet-because-you-should-totally-be-watching-it iZombie!
I wrote this piece for a post I had planned to do on Emmy snubs for iZombie and the phenomenal Legion, but the Emmys have come and gone and today is Rose McIver’s birthday, so I choose to celebrate it by convincing people to watch her show! So let’s get to it.
You should watch iZombie. It’s more horror-adjacent than it is pure horror, but it is an incredible show that zombie fans and fans of good TV alike should have on their watchlists. It’s essentially Veronica Mars with zombies, and if that isn’t enough to entice you, then you need to go watch Veronica Mars as soon as you can. With that said, despite the comparisons – it’s from the same creative team as VM, it has the same sensibility of combining biting humor (no pun intended) with compelling drama, both leads are petite blondes who can outsmart you and kick your ass – iZombie stands on its own, so let’s talk about some of the reasons you need to start watching it:
1. Rose McIver
One of the show’s central conceits is that eating someone’s brain temporarily gives you that person’s personality, memories, and knowledge. As one does when one is a zombie working in the Medical Examiner’s office, Liv usually eats a victim’s brain to try to access their memories in order to help solve the Murder of the Week. That means that Rose McIver has to play a new version of Liv every week based on the personality of the person whose brain she eats (Dungeon Master Liv, Frat Bro Liv, Dominatrix Liv, etc.) while still letting us see Real Liv’s personality shine through. McIver pulls it off brilliantly, and she deserves every single Emmy in history for her work. Yes, even Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series from 1990 – she’s coming for you, Danson.
(Also, she’s from New Zealand but does an incredible American accent. I am usually pretty good at picking up on non-American actors doing American accents, but I had no idea she wasn’t American. It blew my mind when I heard her real accent, and I don’t mind saying that I hated myself more than a little bit for not catching it.)
2. The ensemble cast.
I could have an entry for every single actor on the show, from the main cast to the Veronica Mars alums who show up in guest spots, but I really don’t want this to turn into a dry IMDb list, so I’m just going to tell you that the cast on this show is stellar.
Okay, I take that back – I have to talk about some of my favorites. You guys know me, I just can’t do brevity.
Rahul Kohli plays Ravi Chakrabarti, the Chief Medical Examiner. He’s Liv’s boss and her cohort in navigating the world of zombie-dom. Kohli is fantastic and deserves to be a huge star.
Malcolm Goodwin plays Clive Babineaux, Liv’s detective partner whose underlying geekiness is a frakking delight. I think a lesser actor would have played him as a one-dimensional cynical cop type, but Goodwin (and the writers) give the character a depth and warmth that make Clive one of the most endearing characters on TV. I want Clive to be my best friend.
Robert Buckley is hilarious and heartbreaking as Major Lilywhite, Liv’s former fiancé. Like Rahul Kohli, he is so talented, likable, and handsome that I think he should be a household name.
David Anders plays Blaine DeBeers/McDonough, the funniest and sexiest zombie mobster you’ve ever seen. I particularly enjoy the Liv-Blaine scenes. McIver and Anders are both incredible actors, and their snarky chemistry is one of my favorite aspects of the series.
3. The humor.
I love puns. LOVE them. And this show is full of them, including a charcuterie called Meat Cute, a zombie named Liv Moore, and a District Attorney with the surname Baracus (think about it for a sec – I pity the fool who doesn’t get that joke). I find these all incredibly delightful, but if you don’t care for puns, this show still has you covered. You may think you don’t need to see Ravi speculate on what Clive’s O-face looks like, but you do. You really, really do.
4. The art.
The show is based on a comic book by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. (Full disclosure: Allred is one of my favorite comic book artists, so I am more than a little biased here.) His art is used in the opening sequence – along with one of my favorite earworms, “Stop, I’m Already Dead” by Deadboy & the Elephantmen – and the show uses interstitial titles with Allred-esque art and pun-filled captions (see #3). The show and the comic inhabit two very different worlds, so there’s no fear of getting spoiled on any plot points if you read the comics. You should definitely check them out, if only for Allred’s art (and to see Ravi as a were-terrier).
5. The zombies.
Most of the zombies on the show look like average people (well, as average as people who are attractive enough to be on the CW can be), but there are some fairly gory scenes with zombies who have gone “full-on Romero,” as they say on the show. Since Night of the Living Dead is in the public domain, we see Liv watching the movie in the pilot, and there are references to the patron saint of zombie movies throughout the series. I’m not going to tell you that you’ll be able to get your weekly fix of Nicotero-level nastiness while The Walking Dead is on hiatus, but there is plenty of brain-munching that will satisfy gorehounds without alienating those with weaker stomachs.
What did I miss, iZombie fans? Tell me what you would add to the list. And please join me in wishing a very happy birthday to Rose McIver!