If you’ve followed me on tumblr for a whilst you might know that I used to talk about iZombie a lot. As it was/is one of The CW’s most underappreciated TV shows, the show is also based on the DC Comics of the same name but is by far the less talked about show in the DCTV universe.
iZombie is about assistant medical examiner Liv Moore, who on one fateful night gets turned into a zombie. It’s a very different type of zombie show, not like The Walking Dead, as there is more of a comedic tone to it. Liv teams up with detective Clive Babineaux and her friend and medical examiner Ravi Chakrabarti to help solve the murders of the bodies that come into the morgue, as she eats their brains and can see into the deceased memories when something said or done by someone triggers that memory (referred to as “visions”).
Back to my point, what I loved about iZombie for the first three seasons was that there was hardly any sex scenes, it never forced the “everyone has sex and that’s what makes us human” narrative
or if it did it was never as noticeable as this, and even though there are romantic relationships within the series they aren’t the main focus. But this season has been different. Very different.
After the finale of season three FBI Agent Dale Bozzio, who is also main character Clive Babineaux’s girlfriend, was turned into a zombie, and a lot of Clive and Dale’s storyline in season four is about how they are navigating their relationship as it has become a relationship between a zombie and a human. In the earlier seasons Major and Liv had a similar storyline where it was revealed that if a human has sex with a zombie the zombie virus will be transmitted to them and they will become a zombie. But Clive and Dale’s storyline is somewhat different to theirs. And that is the struggles that the two of them are facing because of the lack of sex within their relationship as Clive wants to have sex, or rather needs to have it. And because of that it has lead to the plot turning very allonormative.
At least once in each episode so far (there has been ten) somehow the narrative turns into a sex talk, about Clive and Dale’s lack of sex because she’s a zombie, or how sex is “normal”. In 4×08 Chivalry is Dead a man is murdered and the reason why he was murdered? he slept with a female human who was dating a male zombie. Now the victim was murdered because of jealousy even though the human/zombie couple had an open relationship (like Clive and Dale have). This was a direct quote from the episode from the female human character about her boyfriend after he was turned into a zombie:
“I thought that our love was strong enough. That sex wasn’t everything. But it became clear how important it was. What intimacy does for a couple. How lack of it tears them apart.”
Now I’m aromantic as well as asexual as the majority of you may know but even so this really kicked me in the gut. Because this… this is something usually used against an asexual person who is uncomfortable having sex when they are dating an allosexual person. This is what I believed broke up my first (and only) romantic relationship (I talk about this in my previous ace/aro posts in more detail). And they are indirectly telling asexuals in relationships without sex that their relationships will not last, that their lack of “intimacy” will destroy it and that their relationship isn’t “important” enough because it lacks the one thing that will “keep them together”.
Yes some people may need sex in their lives, I’m not saying that this narrative shouldn’t be shown or that it should be frowned upon. Hyper sexual people exist I understand that also. The narrative is being shown through Clive in this season of iZombie. I just hate how they are handling it. They even shamed Clive for sleeping with someone even though both Clive and Dale agreed to have an open relationship so that they could “satisfy their sexual needs”.
I thought I could get through it but the next episode, 4×09 Mac-Liv-More, seemed to want to test me some more. This time it was at four minutes into the episode. A reoccurring secondary character, Inspector Enzo Lambert, says this when talking about the deceased human/zombie couple:
“I do not understand this… uh… zombie-human romance. What is the point if you cannot… uh… [in French] dip the biscuit?”
So here we get another what is the point of having a romantic relationship if there’s no sex throw away line. It’s said like a joke but given that Clive is dealing with not being able to have sex with his girlfriend and is struggling with this and the fact that this hurts a lot of asexual people it doesn’t really seem like a joke to me, it’s just hurtful and inconsiderate.
The final straw came in this weeks episode, 4×10 Yipee Ki Brain, Motherscratcher!, in which I literally had to stop the episode and write this post because I can no longer take it anymore. Isobel, a new character, who was brought, or rather smuggled, into New Seattle to meet Liv so that she can be turned into a zombie because she is dying. But in the previous episodes it’s revealed that she is immune to the zombie virus and she will in fact die because she has Freylich Syndrome (I believe this is a disease that iZombie created). This girl is literally dying and I’m not 100% of the character’s age but the actress who plays her is 16 so I will assume that the character is too. But in 4×10 she reveals the things that she’s sad she’ll miss out on and one of them is sex. This is what she says to Ravi:
Isobel: “I’m just thinking of all the stuff I’m gonna miss out on. You know, going to college. Winning a Nobel Prize. Falling in love. Having sex.”
Ravi: “Let me stop you right there. Sex? Totally overrated.”
Isobel:“Is that why you wait up until 2:00 a. m. for Peyton to come home? Because sex is “totally overrated”?”
Ravi: “I wait up for the companionship. Sex itself? It’s a bit of a chore, if you must know.”
[Liv laughing indistinctly from her room] [Ravi clears throat]
Isobel, with a sad look on her face: “A chore.”
Why they couldn’t leave this scene after Ravi says sex is overrated I don’t know. I was optimistic at the beginning of this scene because I thought finally a non-acephobic, non-allonormative response to a conversation that turned into one about sex. But alas I was disappointed as the conversation went on. But the fact that this is coming from a sixteen year old girl who is dying just made me so unbelievably angry that I had to stop watching and distract myself for a whilst.
I know I said I’m focusing on the allonormative side of this season of iZombie and the majority of this conversation focuses on the sex side but I also want to bring up the amanormative side of what Isobel says. She says she’s sad that she’ll miss out on falling in love, obviously this means romantically. And yeah I get it but this indirectly implies that falling in love with someone romantically is “normal” and that if she wasn’t dying it would be something that would happen to her eventually. The fact that Ravi only brings up sex part of what she says also indirectly implies this too. Because he doesn’t question her being sad about falling in love, who knows she could turn out to be aromantic (and asexual) but that won’t happen so it’s like once again aromantic people don’t exist and aren’t even an after thought (which I’m used too).
I did eventually go back to it and later on in the episode Ravi phones Liv after he finds out Isobel has gone to meet an actor from a show she binge watches with Ravi, Liv, and Angus (Liv’s current boyfriend, side note: iZombie what happened to Liv’s last boyfriend Justin Bell? Yeah him? Do you remember him?) and they had this direct conversation:
Ravi: “Isobel told me she was sad she was never going to have sex.”
Liv: “Wouldn’t you be?”
I will say that I do think the brain that Liv is on may have affected her answer to this but [stares into the camera like I’m on the office]. I’m tired. This was a show I used to love because even though I didn’t see myself reflected in the world yet I didn’t feel this hurt by it, I didn’t feel erased, belittled or forgotten by it. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, I loved it. But now… I really do hate to say this but I’m so hurt, so angry that I’ve come to hate this season and I’m finding myself unable to enjoy any aspect of it because somehow it always comes back to this one thing and that is how “sex is important”. And I feel this way as an aroace, who doesn’t date, so I’d hate to think how it feels to be an alloromantic ace having to sit through this and have their relationships utterly belittled by this show.
Like I’m not asking iZombie to acknowledge or introduce asexual characters but I would like them to acknowledge that sex isn’t a human need for some people, it isn’t a necessity for relationships to strive for some people. And that some people can live with out it. I want them to acknowledge that relationships without sex can last.