In the Flesh TV Poster Image

In the Flesh



British zombie drama is cerebral thriller for hardy teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series is about a zombie apocalypse, yes, but its messages go deeper than that, raising issues like bigotry and government responsibility and paralleling others like mental illness and addiction. The rehabilitated partially dead struggle to find a place in a society that fears them, which causes some to seek escape from the new reality and the threats on their lives. What's more, the story encourages viewers to sympathize with the "monsters," marking them as the victims and those who would destroy them to protect themselves as the villains.

Positive role models

Kieren and his family strive to reconnect and resolve the hurt feelings that his suicide caused. He does the same with friends, both from his living years and from his untreated zombie existence. Some people are sympathetic to the plight of the PDS sufferers and help them assimilate, at great risk to themselves. In his case, family proves loyal beyond all other influences, but that's not the case for all the risen. Some partially deceased patients crumble under the pressures of their new lives, turning to drugs and other temptations for an escape.


In flashback sequences, zombies kill and feed on humans. These scenes are grisly, with the undead bloodied, partially decomposed, and manic. Humans use automatic rifles and handguns to fend off attacks, and other weapons like chainsaws are shown as well. Death scenes are particularly intense, with rehabilitated zombies (who look fully human) shot execution-style while family members watch. That said, violence isn't the primary focus of this cerebral show, and most of the content is more suspenseful and tense than it is gory. Kieren's suicide isn't referenced in detail, but the characters deal with the emotional fallout of his actions.


Sex isn't a a focus of the show, but the story alludes to a closeted relationship between Kieren and his longtime male friend.


Language is not used excessively, but everything goes, including "f--k," "s--t," and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Nearly all of the characters are adults, and most drink at some point. A teen also drinks heavily at times, likely to take the edge off stresses in her life, but alcohol never proves problematic for anyone. Some of the risen resort to a dangerous drug that's peddled to help them cope with their guilt over past wrongs, and it's implied that it leads to at least a few deaths.

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Premiere date:March 17, 2013
Cast:Harriet Cains, Luke Newberry, Steve Evets
Network:BBC America
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bygeekmonkey January 31, 2015


This show really depends on the individual viewer's maturity. There's a lot of swearing, and some gory scenes in flashbacks. It's definitely iffy for a 14 year-old, as it deals with mature themes, but I wouldn't want a young viewer to miss out on this show if it's something they can handle. It is a fantastic show. It acts as a metaphor for all sorts of oppressed groups, most notably LGBT people and those suffering from mental illness. The PDS sufferers (zombies) act as a group anyone can sympathize with, regardless of their views on other issues, but do not act as a stand in for real-life issues (the main character is bisexual, he has a boyfriend in the second season, he and his sister both suffer PTSD - just a few examples). As I said, it deals with very mature themes: Kieren, the protagonist, lives with his family in a small, conservative, christian village that is very prejudiced against the PDS sufferers, and also LGBT people. They are often very violent. SPOILER ALERT: An important character is killed by his own father, his father is also killed, Kieren committed suicide, a character from the second season suffered severe depression and drug addiction in his first life.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byBellatrix-Lestrange April 22, 2015

This show is a must

It's about zombies, but not the usual. Instead of focusing on how people hunt zombies because they are killers and savages, the show is set in a later stage. There is a cure so that zombies (or Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers) have their old personalities. The show focuses on the discrimination and sometimes violence faced by the zombies as they are reintegrated in their communities. The discrimination faced by them is a parallel to some real discrimination that happens everyday. The show deals with sensitive topics such as suicide. Something I love about this show is that things such as being gay and mental health problems do not define a character, something which is rare in the media. It is also accurate, and those things are treated as secondary, but the story does not revolve around them.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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