By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Constant violence, gore in dark zombie drama.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Humanity is worth fighting brutally for, and women can fight as fiercely as men.
Positive Role Models
The show offers a diverse cast, and its sympathies lie with those who are fearless and protective.
Violence & Scariness
Constant violence, including the sudden and gory deaths of characters you've grown to know. Characters are torn apart, bitten into with great gouts of blood, and shot point-blank in the face. Zombies vomit blood, rot away, and leave body parts behind them. There are many disturbing images, such as a school bus full of young zombies, and a lake full of hundreds of floating zombie bodies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Occasional references to sex.
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Some cursing: "What the hell are you doing?" and "What makes him so goddamned important?"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters attempt to barter drugs for guns; Oxycontin and crystal meth are mentioned as possible bargaining chips.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Z Nation is an intense and gory drama with constant dread and menace, plus numerous zombie battles in every episode. During the battles, characters may be beheaded, eviscerated, torn apart, shot point-blank in the head, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. Gore and blood flies everywhere, and there are numerous disturbing images such as a school bus full of child zombies. Characters whom viewers have gotten to know are suddenly and violently attacked. A baby transforms into a zombie. Characters attempt to trade drugs such as Oxycontin and crystal meth for guns. Zombies vomit blood and shed body parts. Doctors tie patients to gurneys against their will and experiment on them; the camera lingers on blood and needles. Uncountable numbers of dead bodies appear on-screen.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 12 parent reviews
Great show but my children enjoy TWD much better.
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It's a great show for preteens and teenagers!
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What's the Story?
Three years ago, a zombie virus decimated the United States, turning it into a Z NATION overrun by the living dead. Only a few ragtag human survivors remain, crowded tightly in armed refugee camps or roaming the countryside, hiding when necessary and picking off zombies when they can. Through this perilous landscape, Lieutenant Mark Hammond (Harold Perrineau), the last surviving member of his Delta Force squad, is attempting to carry out the last order he was ever issued: Carry the only known human being to ever survive a zombie attack (Keith Allan) to California, where his blood just might be able to produce a vaccination. From a remote radio post, disaffected former military communications professional Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) watches and comments on the action as Hammond slowly makes his trek.
Is It Any Good?
It's not that zombies aren't cool or that the idea of a zombie show isn't a natural for the Syfy network. It's just that Z Nation is so trope-ish as to be laughable. You've got your zombie virus that destroyed Life As We Know It -- ho hum -- and then your survivors with a (pointless?) mission and your shambling zombies that break into the action approximately every 2.5 minutes, or twice between each commercial break, with a big meaningless battle royale at the end. Feh.
Even things that would be cool are rendered blah by the flat writing. Harold Perrineau, who was sadly underused on Lost (his main function was to shout, "Waaaaaaalt!"), is a terrific actor. Does he get meaty lines and heroic action? Sadly, no. DJ Qualls, a predictably quirky presence in film, is stuck playing Radar O'Reilly on a communications system, given little to do. It all comes off as a limp imitation of The Walking Dead, itself a rather predictable (if wildly popular) show.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
The zombie genre appears to have heated up in recent years, with numerous TV shows and movies about the living dead. What shows and movies can you name? How does Z Nation distinguish itself from these other adaptations, if it does at all?
Are all on-screen zombies slow-moving, brainless kill-bots as they are in Z Nation? Can you name any other depictions of zombies that are different? How? Does this make them more or less scary?
Look up a few recipes for stage blood. Now that you know what's in it, does the blood in Z Nation look more or less realistic?
- Premiere date: September 12, 2014
- Cast: Harold Perrineau, Tom Everett Scott, DJ Qualls
- Network: Syfy
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: March 13, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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