So, I’ve been watching the Sci Fi Channel’s new show Z Nation,* and I’m actually enjoying it.
I mean, yes, this is from Asylum Studios, which has mostly been making direct-to-video low budget movies. This show has slightly more budget than their usual crap, but still is low-budget compared to something like the walking dead.
The show is set three years into yet another zombie apocalypse, as a small band of survivors meet a man who is seemingly immune to the zombie virus just outside of New York City. They take on the task of getting him to the last known surviving lab, in California, when his existing protection dies.
The show has its share of depressing stuff, and also a fair share of corny nonsense and low-budget moments, but it also has something that The Walking Dead doesn’t: it has hope.
The characters on Z Nation aren’t just waiting to die, and scrambling to survive in a world with no hope. They’ve got a chance at a cure, and even if that doesn’t pan out, they have (so far as I’ve gotten into the episodes) a sense that if they stick together, and do what’s right, they’ll be better off.
Don’t get me wrong, I love The Walking Dead. But it sometimes gets to me, how little hope they have, in a world where survival is the best they can hope for. In real life, that group would be dour and horrible to travel with. I’d much rather travel with the people of Z Nation, who can be badass but also find humor in their situation, who can bond with other human beings and recognize the dangers of the zombies and of other survivors, but also feel hope and happiness even as they’re killing zombies.
And this doesn’t make the show a total lightfest, either–just after my first draft of this went live, I watched my favorite character die. Stupid zombie shows.
It’s just got more light. So I’ll keep watching. And I’ll keep watching TWD, too, but for different reasons. There’s room in my brain for both kinds of stories.
*I refuse to call it Syfy, and the show isn’t, strictly speaking, new, because it just arrived on Netflix. I think it began in September 2014.