In the Flesh is one of the best shows on TV. So, why haven’t most people heard of it? The BBC 3 series takes places years after the dead rose from their graves and started attacking the living. Sounds like an overly familiar premise, right? However, In the Flesh is a completely fresh take on a tired horror trend. Instead of taking place in the midst of the bloody conflict between the living and dead, the series is set after the major fighting has ended. Scientists have figured out how to rehabilitate the zombies and have begun placing them back into society.
The protagonist, Kieren Walker, is one of those recently reformed zombies. With the help of a daily drug, injected straight into his brain stem, he’s practically back to normal. His personality and memories have returned, even if he’s a lot paler. But with the help of a ton of cover up and contact lenses, he’s placed back into his old life. Unfortunately, he’s put back into a world that despises him for things he couldn’t control. Kieren is placed back with his parents, who live in a world of denial about his current state and how he died, his sister, who is a veteran of the human-zombie war, and in a town that can’t accept change.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to watch, here are some more reasons to catch up on this fantastic show:
1. You’re a Fan of Character-Driven Series
Unlike many other supernatural series currently on TV, In the Flesh doesn’t center on fighting monsters or gory imagery. Its sole focus is the characters who are dealing with the strange new world. While there is some mystery and mythology, the bulk of the show centers on how those very different characters deal with the latest world. Kieren must cope with the things he did when he was rabid, a town full of people who wish he stayed dead, and the consequences of the things he faced while he was still alive. His sister, Jem, barely manages her PTSD from her time fighting the dead. Even the antagonists of the series are given understandable and human battles to fight, such as Bill Macy, an adamant anti-zombie fighter whose son comes home from war less alive than he left. It’s similar to The Returned in many respects, especially the character-driven episodes.
2. You Miss The Walking Dead
AMC’s zombie action series is currently on hiatus. Why not try out a show that has a more sympathetic view of those deadly walkers? Although there’s far less action, it’s sure to scratch that supernatural itch.
3. You Enjoy the Supernatural as a Metaphor
True Blood and X-Men are famous for using the hatred towards the strange creatures of their series as a metaphor for bigotry. In the Flesh has plenty of that, but done in a much subtler way than either of those series. While Sookie on True Blood is always the first to jump up and yell that hating vampires is just like racism, but In the Flesh understands that it’s much more complicated than a simple statement from a well meaning character.
The series truly explores what it would be like living in this new world and all the different forms of hatred that would exist. The hateful townspeople are justifiably scared, especially after losing a large portion of the population in the war. There’s misinformation spread about the undead (much like there would be with any illness that isn’t fully understood), segregated areas in public places, and parents that do their best to ignore that their child is different. It’s as well done as any series could hope to be, without crossing over into offensive comparisons.
4. Queer Characters
Kieren is bisexual and has multiple male love interest. While there have been hints that he faced prejudice while alive, the show never makes a big deal about his sexuality. Every one is far more concerned with the fact that he used to eat brains.
5. Chilling Atmosphere
Although the show isn’t horror in the traditional sense, the setting and general atmosphere of the show fits perfectly in the genre. Roarton, the small town that is the center of the show, is all haunting forests, empty fields, and small-town mentalities, straight out of every scary movie. The episodes are peppered with sermons from crazy pastors and us against them speeches by drunken zombie fighters. Even the makeup that the undead are forced to wear over their pale, veiny faces add to the overall eerie feeling of the show.
In The Flesh currently airs on BBC America on Saturdays after Orphan Black.