Initially when I heard about Zomboat I didn’t have particularly high expectations, mainly as like nearly everyone on this planet I’m a bit fed up with the whole zombie thing which has been done to death over the past few years / decades. But in a recent interview star Cara Theobold compared it to Fleabag saying “It’s one of those things that turns the genre on its head…You think it’s going to be one thing, especially when you see me and Leah [Brotherhead, who plays sister Kat] clad in leather, swishing around in slow motion, and then it immediately pulls the rug from under you – so that makes it unique”, and so I found myself a lot more intrigued by it.
Unfortunately all I can suggest is that Theobold hasn’t seen many zombie related tv shows / films / novels / games over the past decade as Zomboat doesn’t really do anything that original at all. It’s a likeable show for sure, beautifully shot and looking all rather cinematic at times, but unless everything changes in an enormous manner over the course of the next five episodes than I’m not going to be able to understand why she compared it to Fleabag. The closest I can get to such a suggestion is that the characters are quite grounded and it’s not just a miserable zombie splatter show like The Walking Dead (as it keeps reminding us over and over again) but otherwise there’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before.
The main concept is that sisters Jo (Cara Theobold) and Kat (Lea Brotherhead) wake up one morning in sunny Birmingham to witness the zombie apocalypse going on around them, and Kat instantly suggests they head off to the canal and get on a boat with her joking that the Walking Dead would have been over in one season if Rick Grimes had gone to the Everglades, it’s an astute observation but it’s not the first time there’s been a zombie film set on the water and so hardly an original idea. As well as Kat and Jo we follow two best friends Sunny (Hamza Jeetooa) and Amar (Ryan McKen) who are recovering from a stag weekend and at first oblivious to the zombie madness going on around them, ala Shaun Of The Dead. When they do get attacked they lock themselves away in a room and rather than falling in to shock that zombies exist they end up bickering about the weekend they’ve just had and their lives in general, and the same applies with Kat and Jo. Which could be what Theobold thought was so original about the series, but again, it’s really, truly not and listing every film which has done the same would take up several thousand words.
During this first episode there’s also lots of Scream style discussion of the rules to killing (and surviving) zombies, which again is something which has been done a ridiculous amount of times in the past, and some quite realistic gore, which is a rare (but not unique) element where the killing of the zombies is seen as something really quite disgusting and unsettling and which the characters don’t relish, it’s the one idea that I hope the series continues to play around with as it’s the only aspect which hasn’t been explored way too many times.
Zomboat is a reasonably decent show, it’s impressively acted and a series that does have a fair few funny lines, and though it didn’t make me laugh out loud an enormous amount it caused me to smile a good few times. It’s an easy, fun watch and it’s a show which I’ll definitely stick with for at least a couple of episodes with as the characters appeal. But if you’re sick to death of the zombie genre then it will do nothing to reignite your interest in it, and unless the show changes drastically over the next five episodes than Theobald will definitely be guilty of overhyping it.