You know that perfect idea you have for a show, the one with the LGBTQ main character, the realistic and well-written female characters, the intense, action-driven plot, the beautiful character development, and the supernatural/fantasy/horror theme? Yeah, well, it already exists, and it’s called In The Flesh.
In The Flesh is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror hour-long drama, currently broadcast on BBC Three in the UK and BBC America in the United States. It was created and written by Dominic Mitchell, directed by Jonny Campbell, produced by Ann Harrison-Baxter, and stars Luke Newberry and Emily Bevan. The show began airing on BBC Three on March 17th, 2013, with the first series containing three episodes. The second series premiered on BBC Three on May 4th, 2014, and takes place several months after the events of the first series. The second series was given an extended run, containing a total of six episodes. In early 2014, the show won a BAFTA for its first series, but still has yet to be given a third series.
It centers around zombies, but NOT the type you see all over your TV and movie screens. In this universe, all the people who died in England in the year 2009 crawled out of the grave in an event known as The Rising. Picture your classic, black-and-white film zombie, stumbling around and searching for brains – that’s pretty much what was going on at this time. The government was primarily concerned with helping the big cities, so small towns (such as the fictional one of Roarton, which the series focuses on) were forced to come up with their own solution. This prompted a group known as the HVF (Human Volunteer Force) to form and protect their towns and cities by killing the zombies, much in the same way groups like the ones on The Walking Dead and in Zombieland come together.
However, what makes this show different from all the rest is because it takes place four years AFTER the events of The Rising. In a very realistic take, scientists developed a medicine to treat the zombies and fix their hunger and lack of consciousness, returning their minds to how they were before they died. Though they were still essentially dead bodies walking, the PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferers, as they were then dubbed, could now function like normal people again, only needing to take a small shot of medicine every day. They were also given cover-up and contact lenses to hide their veiny, scabbed faces and white irises. Unfortunately, most of them could remember what they did when in their untreated state, and felt extreme guilt and trauma at their actions, even though it wasn’t their fault.
The main character is Kieren Walker, a 22 (physically 18) year old young man who has PDS. He is the type of character you’ll want to wrap up in a blanket and keep warm and safe – he’s extremely sweet and genuinely doesn’t want to hurt anybody, he’s a bit shy, he’s sensitive, he has a lot of self-hatred, and he has depression (which is handled EXTREMELY well). Also? He’s canonically queer (specifically pansexual), and it isn’t treated like a big deal – i.e., characters freaking out about it, having a big coming out session, etc. Not that it isn’t a plot point – he has different relationships on the show – it’s just that it mainly focuses on his feelings for the characters and their romance together, rather than what his sexuality is.
The other lead is Amy Dyer, who died at age 21 from Leukemia and rose from the grave in style. She’s carefree and confident, living her new life to the fullest by dressing in flamboyant, fluffy vintage dresses and big coats and boots, with pretty purple flowers in her hair, and taking day trips to amusement parks and abandoned mini-golf courses. She lives by her decision to not wear her cover-up or her contacts, instead opting to be true to who she is and not concealing her identity for the comfort of other people – a choice that showcases one of the main themes of this show. She’s Kieren’s BDFF – Best Dead Friend Forever, and though she is extremely outgoing and sure of herself, she still has the very realistic and human need to feel loved and cared for. She also desperately tries to keep her problems to herself, not wanting to be a burden on others. All in all, she’s one of the best aspects of the show.
It also focuses much on Kieren’s relationships with his parents, Sue and Steve, who try very hard to be accepting of his condition, and his little sister, Jem, who was a member of the HVF during The Rising and suffers from PTSD from being involved with so much violence at such a young age – a fact that makes her even more brave and strong than she already is. There are so many more characters, all of which are extremely complex and interesting, but there’s only so much room here. A lot of the show is about the discrimination directed towards Kieren, Amy, and the other PDS sufferers in Roarton, and how zombies and the different ways they are treated on the show are used as symbols for real-world issues, such as racism, homophobia, dehumanization, segregation, oppression, power imbalance, self-hatred, and others.
For all of these reasons and more, it is one of the best shows currently on television. Its acting, its writing, its EVERYTHING is phenomenal, and is what everyone in online fandom has been asking for in a TV show. Finally, we got our wish granted – however, it could all come to an end, since a third series still hasn’t yet been commissioned. This is why it is so important for people to watch this show and tweet about it, in order to convince BBC Three that it deserves another series. If it sounds interesting to you, you can download it from iTunes or buy the DVD online.
Now, go forth and watch it!