Throughout television history, the supernatural detective drama genre has proven to be the very definition of niche viewing. Sure, there have been a few breakouts in the genre, with the likes of Twin Peaks and The X-Files proving exceptions to the otherwise well-established rule that supernatural detective series should be happy to linger in their little corner of the TV realm with whatever viewership they can grab.
That rule applies even to series like Supernatural and, most recently, the NBC-slash-Netflix series Lucifer — both of which have amassed devoted followings, but have never really boasted the ratings to match. In fact, a lack of ratings is exactly what led Fox to cancel Lucifer after a three-season network run.
To the delight of its fans, the series — which follows Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) as he abandons Hell for the sunny vistas of Los Angeles and becomes a crime-solving nightclub owner — was quickly revived by Netflix after that cancellation, with the streamer green-lighting a fourth, fifth, and even sixth season of the show.
Sadly, the upcoming sixth season of Lucifer will be its last. With the end of days officially drawing near for Mr. Morningstar and his crew (and even Supernatural finally wrapping its staggering 15-season run), it’s safe to assume TV fans who like to get down with tales of supernatural sleuths will soon be looking for a new terrifying detective saga to indulge in.
Should you count yourself among them, you’ll likely find all your looking for and more in the flesh-feasting facade of iZombie, all five seasons of which are currently available to devour at your own leisure on Netflix.
iZombie was the zombie detective series the world didn’t know it needed
To start with the basics: iZombie is loosely inspired by the popular Vertigo comic book series of the same name. Brought to undead life on the perpetually teen-friendly realm of the CW by Veronica Mars mastermind Rob Thomas alongside co-creator Diane Ruggiero-Wright, iZombie is hardly a straightforward adaptation — mostly just borrowing the abilities of the central character and largely eschewing the source material’s more creature-centric elements to focus on zombies.
Not surprisingly, the man behind Veronica Mars also made iZombie more of a classic procedural, positing his undead heroine at the centre of several murder mysteries unfolding in the Seattle area.
When iZombie begins, Olivia “Liv” Moore (Rose McIver) is a hard-working medical resident. After a night of partying, however, she finds herself unwittingly transformed into a brain-hungry zombie. As much as she tries to resist, it turns out that the only way to not become a mindless flesh-eater and stay at least half-way human is to occasionally indulge in a brain-heavy dish or two, which Liv cleverly does by taking a job at the county morgue and snacking on the brains of the already dead. The catch is that once Liv devours those brains, she experiences the memories of the departed and even temporarily inherits some of their personality traits.
In the cases of murder victims whose brains Liv consumes, their memories naturally contain clues that prove helpful to Seattle Detectives, whom Liv frequently pairs with while desperately trying to conceal her zombified existence.
That gonzo setup is every bit as fun and genuinely intriguing as it sounds, with Thomas and the entirety of the iZombie team pushing narrative boundaries and frequently subverting expectations to create a series as eerie and witty as it is delightfully soulful. Frankly, it’s high time more people feasted on this delectable genre treat.