In the never ending Netflix binge, I recently stumbled upon the show Z Nation. As a zombie love, I was immediately drawn. Plus, with new episodes of TWD just a couple weeks away, this would be the perfect filler; a zombie warm up to a hopefully epic season finale.
It seems any Google search on Z Nation comes up with endless articles comparing it to TWD. However, it’s always such a negative comparison. “The Poor Man’s Walking Dead”, “Walking Dead Ripoff”…you get the idea. It appears the popular consensus is Z Nation is an attempt to be the next TWD. I couldn’t disagree more...
Comparing these two shows would be like comparing The Woman in Black to Ghostbusters. TWD and Z Nation are two different genres of a zombie apocalypse. First, we’ll take a look at the blaringly obvious similarities.
Here are the basics: We have a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world on the move. There’s a strong leader who keeps them grounded and focused. They encounter several cults, maniacs, cannibals, and psychopaths that threaten their group. Of course you can always look to the conspiracy theorists for the never-ending lists of nods and references Z Nation makes to TWD. I admire their dedication. We even have a young couple to cheer for in their apocalyptic love story. All in all, that’s about where the similarities end.
Now for the even MORE obvious differences: lighten up! The apocalypse can be fun! Zombie babies, zombie tornados, zombie mind power… oh my! Z Nation isn’t for the super serious. It’s campy. It’s the B TV series about zombies. They jokes are cheesy. If you can’t handle it, get out of the apocalypse. We all know how annoying Lori was… and what a douche Shane was… and what the hell Andrea? These characters are a lot more likeable (just as 10K how he got his name).
Action! Adventure! Resolution! All this and more with every episode of Z Nation. We all know what a letdown the prison was. We waited and anticipated the most epic showdown of humans versus humans versus zombies ever. What we got in the end was a 10 minute clip of bang boom and goodbye beloved characters. With Z Nation, there’s a problem and resolution. Each episode brings a seemingly impossible task or obstacle for our crew to overtake. This brings me to my next bullet point.
In Z Nation, we have a goal. We have a cure! (At least we think so for now) We have a guy, Murphy. Murphy was injected with a trial vaccine for the Z virus. He was then bit 8 times by zombies, and survived! 50 cent ain’t got nothing on Murph. As of right now, we have a potential cure for this affliction. TWD has specifically stated there is no cure or vaccine. Essentially at this point we’re watching a survival show. With Z Nation, we have labs (what’s left of them). We have our great pal Citizen Z.
Wait, did we not mention Citizen Z yet? DJ Qualls plays the lovable mastermind of what’s left of the world. As the last member of the NSA’s Northern Lights post, Citizen Z is the eyes and ears of zombie activity. He’s awkward and goofy and funny and hopeful. Citizen Z (aka Simon) is trying to help our group transport Murph to a lab to harness his antibodies and cure this wretched disease once and for all. With the NSA flair, Simon is able to locate our traveling group of heroes and see what they’re up to. With an electricity enabled apocalypse, the survivors can also communicate with Simon.
All in all, once broken down to specifics, it’s easy to see Z Nation and TWD are in two separate but equal zombie leagues. I think true zombie fans can see the good and bad in both. Of course by not being based of comics, Z Nation takes a hit by not having a built in fan base. However, I think they’ve truly made a name for themselves with this first season. TWD has really peaked in its appeal. Comic followers have dwindled as the show strays from the storyline of the comic books. Pair that with the tortoise slow storyline (Rick stop being so angsty!), and it’s hard to believe TWD is still airing. Although it seems to be steering back on course, we can all agree TWD has made some serious mistakes. I encourage anyone reading this to give Z Nation a try. After having read this article I hope you will be objective in your views. No, Z Nation is NOT the new Walking Dead. But maybe it’s something to add to your regularly scheduled programming. At the very least, be sure to check out @citizenznation on Twitter for useful advice in the zombie apocalypse.