iZombie: A Dark Concept With Light Heart

Cate Cameron/The CW

The CW finds humor in the undead with iZombie, a new series based on the Vertigo comic book of the same name. Developed by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, the show chronicles the life-altering journey of Liv (Masters of Sex‘s Rose McIver), a once “unstoppable hyper-focused fireball” medical resident (as described by her roommate) who transforms into a pale, lethargic walking corpse after being infected with a mysterious disease at a party. Despite the dark concept, the show’s tone is more Warm Bodies than The Walking Dead. “There’s a functioning zombie at the center of the series whom people will still find appealing and attractive,” Thomas says.

To maintain her connection to what’s left of her life, Liv must eat brains–a craving she satisfies by taking up a job at the local morgue. But this diet brings with it a twisted aftertaste: the memories and personality traits of the people whose brains she eats. “There are languages she can suddenly speak and physical things, like fight skills, she can suddenly do that are fairly intimidating,” says 26-year-old New Zealand native McIver. “Each time I get a new script, I’m like, ‘Gosh, they’re going to want me to be a concert pianist one of these days.’ But as an actor, it’s so appealing to do something different every week.”

Liv’s boss in the medical examiner’s office, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), learns her secret and helps her come to terms with her status. He also gives Liv’s “life” a purpose by suggesting she use these new abilities to assist Seattle detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), who believes Liv is some sort of psychic. The gig provides a nice distraction from her shambles of a personal life. Following her infection, Liv pulled away from her family and friends and her fiancé, Major (One Tree Hill‘s Robert Buckley). “It’s the most heartbreaking part,” McIver says. “Liv’s so scared of infecting him with zombie-ism.”

As for those fake brains–which are made from a coconut agar gelatin combined with vegetable juice standing in for Liv’s preferred hot-sauce garnish–McIver is still experimenting on new ways to keep them edible. “It’s fine in small doses, but the consistency over and over again is fairly repulsive,” she says with a laugh. “I’m going to get a few different options from the props department and start a cookbook!”

Premieres March, The CW