IN THE FLESH is an amazing British series about life after the zombie apocalypse. Told from the point of view of a zombie who has been cured and is now reintegrating into society, the series works as both an excellent drama and also for its themes of prejudice and recovering from trauma. It succeeds where its imitators like THE CURED failed. I recently finished the second season, which was as good as the first.
In the first season, Kiernan leaves a government center where zombies have been cured. The only problem is they remember everything they did while they were infected. He struggles with his guilt and shame while trying to be hopeful about being with family again, including his kind but clueless parents and his sister, who was a fighter in the Human Volunteer Force (HVF), a homegrown militia that held back the tide of the undead. The season works so wonderfully because it tells both sides really well: The HVF veterans who don’t trust the cured, have to similarly assimilate to civilian life (going from heroes to in some cases the small-town losers they were before), and in some cases are suffering from PTSD. And of course the cured themselves, who have to face family and neighbors they brutalized while infected.
Season 2 picks up where the first left off, but the tension and prejudice between the cured and the uninfected has reached a new level where it’s being institutionalized. Among the cured, an underground organization is forming to resist societal control, while the government is instituting harsher and harsher measures for controlling the cured, such as forcing them to work menial jobs to prove they’re not the bad sort and give back for what they’ve taken the country. It all comes to a head with a prophecy that if the first risen is killed at the anniversary of the rising, the dead will rise again…
This is a great series that shows how horror tropes can be used to engage people about big familiar themes in a fresh and interesting way, and how these tropes can work very well if taken seriously with solid human drama. IN THE FLESH is not so much a zombie apocalypse show as one that deals with how society would come together again after one was stopped in its tracks with a cure. Unfortunately, while there’s no third season, in the first two a complete story is told, and it’s different and compelling than what you’d usually find in the genre.