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In the Flesh
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that In the Flesh is a gritty British drama miniseries about zombies who are reassimilated into their communities, where they're feared and hunted by a grassroots army. There are brief flashback sequences that show partially decomposed zombies feeding on humans and being shot themselves, as well as some in which rehabilitated "rotters" are killed in front of emotional family members. The show isn't an easy watch, thanks in large part to the fantastic cinematography and excellent writing, both of which play on viewers' sympathies for the plight of the partially dead. Those who do tune in will find the story a compelling one and its careful parallels to mental illness and addiction worth discussing.
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What's the story?
IN THE FLESH opens as Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) and a group of Partially Deceased Syndrome ("PDS") sufferers prepare to return to their lives after intensive medical and emotional intervention following their involuntary rising. Kieren is apprehensive about rejoining his parents and younger sister, Jem (Harriet Cains), and his fears multiply when he learns of the village's vigilante army, the Human Volunteer Force ("HVF"), led by extremist Bill Macy (Steve Evets), who hunts down "rotters" and kills them on sight. With Jem knee-deep in the HVF, suspicious neighbors everywhere he turns, and ghosts from his past continuing to haunt him, Kieren starts to look outside his family for support and faces new and dangerous temptations.
Is it any good?
The BBC's take on the zombie apocalypse is a refreshingly unpredictable one, with a story that turns the tables on typical monster tales by making the zombies the victims and spins their would-be assassins as prejudiced monsters instead of heroes. The general premise of sympathetic monsters isn't entirely unique (ever heard of Twilight?), but In the Flesh makes for a compelling story with far-reaching arcs about family relationships, forgiveness, forbidden love, and bigotry.
Unlike others before it, this zombie story downplays the whole undead-eating-humans thing, which is good for those with weak stomachs for blood and gore. What occasions of it do exist are very brief and shrouded in cinematic haze, but the intensity of the story is wholly unsuited for all but the sturdiest of teens. After all, the concept here is masking zombies to blend into society, and that alone is enough to inspire nightmares for more than a few unsuspecting viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the reasoning behind our love affair with monster-themed movies and TV shows. What makes these types of characters appealing? Do their positive qualities outweigh their potential negative ones? Can you relate to their flawed personalities?
A primary theme in this story is that of prejudice. What accounts for the different reactions to the PDS patients' return to society? What role does fear play in bigotry? Are people's fears warranted? Do we see examples of this kind of response to any scenarios in our society?
What is this movie's message about the government's responsibility in protecting citizens? The HVF is born of citizens' mistrust of the government's hands-off approach to monitoring the partially deceased patients. What, if any, current political issues are inspiring similar rallying of citizens? What role does propaganda play on either side of the issue?
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love scares and thrills
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