Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In the Flesh

So this is a British show about zombies with...a slightly intriguing take. It aired on BBC America a few weekends ago and I watched it last week and had mixed feelings about it mostly ending in dislike. I haven't really read any other reviews about it or talked about it with anyone so it's possible I'm missing its strengths, but in the end I feel like The Point of this show overrode the actual story and also, I JUST LIKE MY ZOMBIES UNTHINKING OKAY?

I'd be lying, though, if I said there weren't times I found the concepts intriguing. In the Flesh imagines a time when the dead suddenly rise due to the virus and eat people to survive. But then they come up with a cure that allows them to return mostly to the people they were before...except, of course, their bodies are dead. And they are being reintegrated into society. To varying degrees of success, of course, people are unsure about having dead people that also fed on their loved ones back as their neighbors. They organized groups to hunt them and somehow there's also a mix of religious zeal in there (which...kind of makes sense since Christians, at least, believe in a resurrection, but this also was part of my problem with the show) so there's a lot of adjustment in thinking necessary.

The main character Kieren Walker (sigh) is one such "recovering" zombie. They don't call them zombies, of course, they call it PDS (partially deceased syndrome) survivors? Anyway, the thing about Kieren is that he actually chose to end his life and so the most hellish thing imaginable is that he'd come back as a zombie. And it was only this specific group of people that died in 2009 that it happened to, and also it doesn't spread via biting or anything.

So Kieren is back with his family and his sister was part of the sort of militia army that hunted zombies (and still does) and so there's tons of tension. Not to mention that also there's the residual pain from the fact the he tried to off himself. And there's the fact that he doesn't quite fit in as a normal person anyway he has to wear make-up and contacts to cover up his true zombie appearance. But things get really interesting when his boyfriend, believed to be dead, is found--also a PDS survivor and comes back. Because Rick's (his boyfriend) father is the head of the group that hunts down the rabid zombies, Rick sort of refuses to accept that he also has PDS. Which leads to conflict, etc.

So...that's sort of where my problems with the show came in. What is PDS stand for in this show? Is that this is just a another way to make commentary on how we "other" people and how it's hard for them and us? Like, in some ways I could see PDS as a stand-in for veterans returning from war (probably because partially PDS reminds me of PTSD), but the show actually has an example of a veteran returning from war. Or is it about sexual orientation? There are these moments where Rick expresses so much self-loathing that it really reminded me of someone fighting their sexual orientation...except, the main couple is also gay. Is it about race? When they visit a bar, they are forced to eat in a different section. Maybe it's not supposed to align with anything in the real world and is just supposed to be a broad sweeping look at how in society we form groups and standards of what's normal and exclude everyone else to painful degrees. Maybe it's about how we don't accept what/who people are if it's not what we want them to be and would rather kill them than live with the reality they are not what we expect. But...are people wrong not to want the zombies around? I mean they may have eaten the people they loved, without medication they are a sincere threat, etc. They are almost a crime against nature in a way because they are supposed to be dead. (Just looked up a review that said it's a metaphor for mental illness. oooooooh. That actually makes the most sense of anything, but I didn't arrive there on my own so)

In any case, In the Flesh does succeed in being different from other zombie shows and showing a realistic way zombies could be reintegrated since it's not a contagious virus. It's just that I found the show didn't quite gel for me. I didn't become attached to any of the characters on any deep level and can't in fact remember most of their names. Add to that the tired trope of the evil church that encourages only hate and I just didn't have a lot of patience for this show, I guess.

Also, I'm resentful. I'm tired of hearing that the only "legitimate" "artistic" zombie stories are ones like this where the zombies aren't actually gone.(I also read it's a thinking man's Walking Dead, etc. UGH) It does raise an interesting discussion, I guess, about if a person's body can still move around does that mean they are still in there? Do we have a hard time believing that a person is not their body? What makes this kind of zombie more acceptable? Also, what makes it so different from a vampire story?

Anyway, I am interested in what others of you who watched this thought, if I'm being too harsh, etc. And tomorrow or the next day I'm really hoping to finally write about The Walking Dead rewatch I did earlier this year. (and lol it will probably be super defensive, oh well)


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