The word "dumb" has diminished in meaning so much that I hesitate to even use it. Remember back when things were dumb without knowing it, and you could poke fun at them without fear of misunderstanding the text? Today, things can be ironic and dumb, parodic and dumb, dumb and dumber, intelligently dumb, or they can even be iZombie. It seems to call something dumb now, you need to provide a thesis and reading list, which is being made ever longer, because iZombie has been renewed for Season 2!
Joining "Robot", "Carly" and "Pad" in the ranks of things that use "i" to sound more modern, iZombie appeared this year on the CW. Despite appearing so stupid on paper the treatment must've been written with crayons, it carved a space for itself. The actual show didn't change things too much, with Rob Thomas running with this premise of a girl who eats brains to read minds like it's always been part of the cultural zeitgeist. iZombie is the easiest thing to sneer at since a reflection of your own nostrils, yet it's getting renewed! What is working so well for the dumbest show on TV?
iZombie Does Something New with Zombies
I know! Sounds impossible, doesn't it! There have been more zombies killed in films and videogames than there have been people in real life, which I suppose I should at least be glad for. iZombie bucks the trend by having the protagonist be a zombie herself, only our heroine, Liv Moore (do you get it? DO YOU GET IT??) is as conscious and sentient as any other main character. For once, zombies aren't a lumbering mass for us to hack through and apparently project our cultural fears on to.
Yes, this is a similar gist to the equally stupid Warm Bodies, but at least iZombie has Liv Moore drive the plot with her brain eating skill adopting crime solving powers. She's more of an undead superhero than your traditional zombie. There are a set of rules and functions surrounding her character. Ironically, this means the show can live on much longer than it's "WOAH IT'S A ZOMBIE SOLVING CRIMES SO CRAZY" premise suggests.
iZombie is a Horror Cop-Procedural
Cop-procedural shows with a kooky twist are nothing new, and might even be the most profitable format for TV. Apparently the world prefers Nathan Fillion as an author who solves crimes than as a space cowboy who overthrows inter-planetary regimes, but hey. iZombie is no different, in that it depicts weekly investigations unveiling a bigger, wackier scheme on which the show it based. Though this time, that scheme is much more out there (or as out there as a cop-procedural can be, ie. a girl from Power Rangers eats brains and has cool bleached hair).
iZombie is at least attractive as a show by admitting that our crazy trashy TV trends can exist right alongside the boring everyday ones. You know what else managed to have dumb horror conventions existing in a grounded TV format?
Yeah, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that quaint little show in the 90s, just might have influenced iZombie resonating well with a TV audience instead of being laughed off our screens. Buffy perfected putting the fantastical alongside the weekly mundane, and made it the norm to want that. In a modern TV landscape where issues of taste have to be approached with utmost seriousness or wittily worked around, iZombie actually appears refreshing in how it accepts it's own dumbness as the norm, rather than something to be overcome.
Whether that peppy outlook on its own existence will be enough to keep iZombie going, we'll have to wait for Season 2. My main issue with iZombie is that it actually doesn't indulge it's own craziness enough, believing that a police-procedural is what we came for. While Buffy used a high-school drama to drive a story about fantastical horror, iZombie uses it's fantastical horror to drive a story about cops solving crimes. It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see where Season 2 takes Liv Moore, and this little show that insists upon setting up and jumping over it's own hurdles.