I’m not going to exaggerate here. When I first saw that BBC3 was not going to renew ‘In the Flesh,’ the first word out of my mouth was “Nooooooooooooooooooo!” My neighbors must have thought I was in an action movie and I had just lost my wife. People in other countries could hear the sound of my despair. The sound of my “no” became the first radio transmission ever heard by alien life forms because it was so powerful it went faster than the speed of sound.
To put it plainly, I’m not very happy about this.
The question of ‘In the Flesh’s fate has been up in the air for some time, with no one confirming or denying its cancellation. Fans started #SaveInTheFlesh campaigns with videos, fanart, and fanfiction dedicated to the show. The show defeated ‘Sherlock,’ probably the most popular British show to hit America in the last decade in a poll. It even defeated the critically acclaimed ‘Peaky Blinders’ starring such a celebrated cast as Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Sam Neill.
What’s even more confounding is that the series won a BAFTA for best miniseries in 2014.
Add on that for a zombie/science fiction mini-series, it has a incredibly low budget with most of the special effects being in what looks like white makeup and blood capsules, its hard to comprehend why the series was never recommissioned.
But truly, that is not the real tragedy of ‘In the Flesh.’ While yes, it’s sad that a show beloved by an international fanbase and critics alike can not continue on to a third season when it’s clear that the show creators had every intention of pursuing the multiple plot threads left hanging in season 2. It’s sad because ‘In the Flesh’ was a show about diversity, oppression, and understanding that didn’t wrap the concepts in an after-school-special bow; yet it did it in a meaningful, thought-provoking, and entertaining way.
‘In the Flesh’ follows the aftermath of the Zombie Apocalypse, where the zombies are cured and can be reintegrated into society provided they take a daily dose of Neurotriptyline. Called Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers (PDS Sufferers), or derogatorily, “Rotters,” the journey of the zombies trying to regain their life in a world that hates them for actions they never had any control over makes for the best hour of television I’ve seen a in very long time.
No oppressed-stone is left unturned in this series. Where we see unsympathetic views of “Muslims as terrorists” in shows like ‘NCIS,’ ‘In the Flesh’ had the presence of mind to make social commentary by separating it from reality. With zombies, it can fully explore how society handles rehabilitation, mental illness, suicide, PTSD, homosexuality, cults, terrorist cells, and racism without being apologetic to the source material of our real world. Essentially, it was able to address these issues with honesty that isn’t usually afforded in reality.
The glory of the show is that it can be read on so many levels. It speaks about psychological disorders and the feelings of those who feel being medicated strips them of who they really are with the daily Neurotriptyline shots, and those who choose to take a pill called “Blue Oblivion” which makes them go “rabid” again.
Some of those who take “Blue Oblivion” become metaphors for suicide bombers as they take the pill on public transports, opening the conversation to when is such terrorism right after a conversation with Simon reveals that it was in response to PSD-sufferers being ruthlessly gunned down and the perpetrators getting a mere slap on the wrist for the massacre.
It addresses Kieran and Rick’s love without ever saying once that homosexuality is wrong. In general, their sexual preferences aren’t what are put into question. Instead, it’s Rick’s family’s inability to see him as a PSD-sufferer is a startling portrait of what it means to come out to those you love, and what the consequences can be if you choose not to live that lie. It also lives in Kieran’s family who try to accept him as a PSD-sufferer, but tip-toe around him because they aren’t sure how to handle this side of him.
The show talks about racism and oppression when it labels PSD-sufferers homes with spray paint, and it puts a spotlight on the latent forms of oppression as PSD-sufferers become more integrated into society as they are forced to do community work to rebuild the society that had destroyed while they were zombies. It shows how mistreatment leads to cults and just how human the people who belong to these cells really are.
It is, in short, a perfect show. Dramatic, witty, and funny in all the right ways, played by actors and actresses that are far too underrated with cinematography that belongs in high-budget films and dealing with issues with sensitivity and honesty.
And as much as a tragedy as all of that it is, the even more catastrophic thought is that we may never know what happens to Amy, Kieran, and Simon at the end of the series.
Rest in peace, ‘In the Flesh’. May you be resurrected somehow. #SaveInTheFlesh