Thomas and Dearden On Writing iZombie. Badass Digest recently interviewed iZombie writers Rob Thomas (also series creator) and Bob Dearden about their new CW series. During the interview, Thomas opened up about the constraints of working with the iZombie property (it’s definitely not what you think), as well as what takes place in the show’s writer’s room.
Thomas was asked how he was able to include his own sensibilities while adapting iZombie from an established comic book world,
Perhaps to the chagrin of the fans of the comic book, I don’t really feel like I have less freedom to create a universe of our own on the TV series. I think the comic book is great. I have a ton of respect for it. We took some very key elements of the comic book into the TV series – Liv’s look, the big premise that this zombie can function as a living human if she keeps eating brains, that she inherits the memories of the deceased. But once it becomes a TV series, it becomes its own thing. I never find myself thinking, “We can’t do that. It’s not how the comic book did it.” I probably feel more constrained by the city of Seattle than I do the comic book. In Veronica Mars, we kept getting to build Neptune, and as it was fictional, it got to be exactly what we wanted. With iZombie, I can’t really reinvent Seattle. If I wrote, “Seattle, a town without a middle class…” people would roll their eyes.
Thomas also also offered some insight into the inner workings of the iZombie writers room, including how they come up with the rules for their show’s universe,
In the iZombie writers room, we discuss zombie rules ad nauseam. How is “zombie” transferred? Can zombies have sex. What would happen to a zombie if he fell off a 10 story building. You’d be surprised how long you can argue about such things. Though I haven’t been in a Law & Order writers room, I suspect our approach to breaking murder cases is much different than theirs. I’d wager they start with ripped-from-the-headlines sensational murder cases and work from there. We generally start with, “What would be a fun brain for Liv to eat this week?” So we often start with, “It would be fun if Liv was channeling a peppy high school cheerleader. I’ll bet we’ll get some really great jokes from that. Now, why would someone want to murder a peppy high school cheerleader.
If I can mix a couple metaphors, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and in a writers room, you’re getting pitched eight different ways to approach a story, and many of them will have validity, but a writers room is a factory, and you’ve got to keep pushing product down the line, so it’s up to the showrunner to say, “This is how we’re going to skin this cat this week. Everyone get on board for this direction.” If you’re a showrunner who is constantly second guessing yourself, you’ll drive yourself – and your staff – crazy.
I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process undertaken by successful writers adapting other successful writer’s work. No one in the entertainment industry believes that they can satisfy everybody and nowhere does that ring truer than when adapting a successful franchise. Most writers and directors struggle to find the perfect movie-making balance between respecting source material and expressing their unique creative vision.
Television success is based on appealing to the widest possible audience, which often comes at the expense of watering the subject matter down so that it is easily digestible for the masses. From its cast of beautiful “twenty-somethings” to its bountiful pop culture references, iZombie has the classic CW vibe. Although the show deals with some pretty dark subject matter, the series is targeted at the same crowd as The O.C..
In the above interview, Thomas flat out says that he is more constrained by staying true to the city of Seattle than the source material. iZombie is a fairly new property, so there is little fan resistance to Thomas’ deviations from the source material. I can’t help but wonder if a writer like Thomas would stay as true to his artistic vision for the series if iZombie had a devoted following the size Gotham’s?
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Source: Badass Digest