Diane Ruggiero-Wright, one of the co-creators of CW’s iZombie TV series (adapted from the comic series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred) is a self-proclaimed “zombie geek”, admitting that she really wanted to talk about The Walking Dead season finale at the iZombie roundtables. Diane’s enthusiasm for zombies translates well to iZombie, a present-day zombie series that’s a far-cry from that other zombie series on TV right now. We sat down with the cast and co-creators of the show to talk about the zombie lore and what makes iZombie different.
1. iZombie exists in a culture where zombies exist.
Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Co-Creator): One of the things I like about our show is that it’s a show where zombies exist in pop culture. Well, zombies exist on the show also but you can reference Shaun of the Dead or watch Night of the Living Dead if you’re trying to figure out how to kill a zombie. All of the pop culture references that we have. Like if a zombie apocalypse broke out, we all would know what to do, kind of. You’d be wrapping your arms in duct tape cause they can’t bite through it…I feel like it should be like Robinson Crusoe. It should all be like tree houses with bridges and that will be the best.
2. iZombie is NOT The Walking Dead.
Robert Buckley (Major Lilywhite): If you go serious and gritty, you’re competing with The Walking Dead. Why would you do that? They’re already killing it. So it was very smart that they decided to go with the approach they went which was: we’re not gonna be The Walking Dead, we’re gonna sort of be a little bit more like, a better comparison, like Buffy.
Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Co-Creator): We can’t out-Walking Dead The Walking Dead, we just can’t do that. So it’s more what can you do within the perameters of your own world. In our last episode, we have a very unlikely action sequence that involves a character that you don’t expect to kind of come in and it’s really cool. I can’t tell you about it but If I could it would sound really cool!
3. No two Zombies are the same.
David Anders (Blaine DeBeers): Blaine has less of a moral compass than Liv does so he’s more accepting of his new found zombie-ism where as she’s trying to figure out her zombie day-to-day routine. And yeah you’re gonna see inside of Blaine’s operation, his brain distribution operation.
Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Co-Creator): In the writers room we call them “freshies”, the people from the boat massacre. And then we call the real zombies “Romeros”. In a later episode we get to refer to them as “Romeros”. That’s not from the comic, that was from the writers room when we decided that we need to have different ways to describe our full-functioning zombies and our zombies that have just turned into zombies and our typical more Walking Dead-type zombie.
4. iZombie can NOT be categorized.
Rose McIver (Liv Moore): I think what makes our show so distinct is it’s not a zombie show like we’ve ever seen before. It’s a comedy and a drama and a procedural and it has a little bit of everything for everyone and the zombie element is part of it but it doesn’t dwarf the relationships and the conflict or that dramatic tension.
5. iZombie’s zombies have heart.
Robert Buckley (Major Lilywhite): One of the things that’s great from the comic book is [Liv] has that very self-aware, dry tone. So while she’s going through circumstances that none of us can relate to she’s doing it with that sarcastic, self-awareness that makes it sort of relatable…how doing something you hate can feel. We call all relate to that except ours may be traffic, hers may be eating a brain.
Rose McIver (Liv Moore): [Liv] was gonna be a doctor and now she can’t, in the pilot, and she’s heartbroken. It was everything that she thought she could do. I think it’s such a human desire to want to contribute to your society and when she starts to realize that she can do that now as a zombie and she can help, be like an advocate for murder victims, it’s given her a purpose again. So while she definitely comes up against things that challenge her. You know she has heartbreak and all sorts of things that are happening, but having that sense of identity and purpose again is what gets her through.
6. There are such things as “zombie rules”.
Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Co-Creator): We want there to be rules and we want them to be clear but we also know it’s not an exact science: Zombie-ism. So we also try to take it seriously but not too seriously. I’m a person who will argue it and argue it like it’s law and then Rob will remind me that it’s zombie-ism and it’s not real and that I have to stop taking it so seriously. “A zombie wouldn’t do that!”, “There aren’t real zombies, Diane.” “But if there were zombies they wouldn’t do that.” and then I try to bring in those insects that are zombies and use that as a reference point but you can’t make an insect zombie part of this argument. You’re cheating.
Rob Thomas (co-creator): There’s certain things, like zombie sex…well how would that be possible? Again, I’m willing to believe a lot of different things. Diane has much sterner, stricter rules on zombies. And it’s great.
7. Zombies don’t have to be scary
Rahul Kohli (Ravi Chakrabarti): I kind of borrowed from my favorite show, which is The X-Files. Fox, for whatever reason and I know it’s to do with his sister, Fox Mulder wants to believe. He sees the most horrendous things and isn’t really scared. He confronts it head-on out of the fascination for the truth. At the same time, Ravi is of that same ilk. He had warned the CDC that there was going to be a zombie apocalypse. That was going to be the next thing: man-made plague. And I think when you are searching for answers, when you are on that quest it does null some of your own fears.
iZombie is a lot of things. It’s a procedural show and it’s a mystery. There are cases to be solved each week. However, according to co-creator Rob Thomas, the zombie elements of the show start to take a front seat throughout the first season. Thomas said, “I think that if you would graph out our episodes, I think the mysteries kept losing pages while the zombie element kept gaining pages. So there might only be one other suspect in an iZombie episode and when we get down to the end we’re gonna corner that killer and they’re going to confess because we wanna get back to some hot zombie-on-zombie action. Cause that, I think the writers in the room, the studio, the network, everybody was digging the zombie mythology stuff so we’re never leaving those cases behind but I think as a point of emphasis we trended toward zombie.”
What’s your favorite thing about the zombies of iZombie? What makes it different from the other zombies in pop culture? Let us know in the comments!