A city sleeps under a fantastically gibbous moon, but something is just beginning to wake from its slumber. A ravenous sound gurgles from the shadows. I hunger!
An unlucky soul hears a shriek as he walks his dog in the wee hours. He peers through a window to witness my hunched form, scooping something glistening and red toward my maw as a pale light illuminates my glazed eyes. My laptop screen screams again as I watch a show about a zombie woman who helps solve murders with the visions she sees from the brains she's eaten. At the end of a taxing week, I have transformed into a creature that craves pints of salsa and the solace of mind-numbing TV.
The Netflix synopsis for "iZombie" places it on the border between "silly, fun circus" and "unspeakably bad." But I stumbled across it in just the right mood to consider it the former. Like vampires and superheroes, zombies were victims of an explosion in popularity that movie and TV producers rode as long as possible, well past the point of beating an undead horse. Anyone could be forgiven for wanting to bury the whole genre in a deep grave.
But "iZombie" is based on a comic book drawn by Mike Allred, who has been creating adorably cadaverous protagonists as least as far back as 1990 in "Madman." That comic told the adventures of a gee-whiz, emotionally tortured, reanimated man named Frank Einstein whose weapon of choice was a lead-filled yo-yo. "iZombie" is similarly zany — its hero, Liv Moore (nyuck nyuck), deals with dead taste buds by smothering her morgue munchies in hot sauce. She embodies a different trope each episode, channeling hacker troll to trophy wife, depending on her dinner.
The show poses that age-old question: If you had to subsist on human brains in an ethical manner, how would you go about it? The answer I want, but not on the menu in "iZombie," is lab meat. Back in the real world, researchers are tinkering with a recipe of animal cells and nutrient solutions to cultivate petri-dish flesh. Success could mean a future of cheap bacon without killing a single pig, and largely free of that pesky carbon footprint.
But why stop at pork chops? Once the technology is proven, 1-percenters would no doubt finance succulent status symbols in the form of cloned panda steak and mammoth ribs. The exotic turducken possibilities are endless! And it's a short leap from designer, extinct-species cutlets to long pig. Imagine celebrities with massive tax debts hawking their bodies on infomercials to anyone who wants a literal taste of fame.
Would you sample your own brand? If you are what you eat, it's the most meta meal possible.
In the face of lobbying by the ranching industry and overcoming the qualms of a squeamish public, it will be a while before frankenbeef becomes commercially available, let alone filet humain. Until then, we'll have to settle for the vicarious cannibalism available through the boob tube.