so one day I’m kicking it on Hulu, looking for a good time, maybe a binge-watch or two, and in the horror tab this show comes up; Zomboat! Naturally, I think, ‘oh, this must involve some zombies and some boats, perhaps’, and I was right. Zomboat! is a British-made production, where the title really hits the plot on the nose in the most insane way. A zombie apocalypse hits Birmingham, and four strangers must escape it by boat, because “zombies can’t swim”.
It’s about as good as it sounds, and if you think ‘hey, a zombie show where they’re escaping by Riverboat through the stagnant rivers of the United Kingdom’, you’d be right.
So in the first few minutes of 0101, Zomboat! (i have to use it with an exclamation every time or else I will die) introduces us to two women who we will most likely be following for the rest of the series. Jo, the blonde one, is having sex with her on again/off again/it’s complicated, and Kat, her sister, in the other room, in the heat of an intense gaming moment—where, in the chat, she sees people talking about the zombie apocalypse.
Of course one should always take whatever the chat says seriously, and of course, Kat spots a helicopter and goes in to warn her sister. Sometime post-coitus, Jo’s fwb dies, and resurrects as the undead, and attacks.
Rinse and repeat for Amar and Sunny, our other two leads and another, unrelated set of siblings that happen to meet Jo and Kat later on. Neither of the two are having sex or gaming, but the accidentally stumble upon the apocalypse, while in a train station which gets them attacked by zombies.
The first five episodes, in which the gang hijack a car, raid a leather shop, pick up one of Kat’s “gamer friends” that eventually betrays them, find Amar’s douchebag friends in their hotel and get trapped in a supermarket by a disgruntled employee, all while being chased by the world’s slowest zombies, takes place all in one day.
Big Stupid Idiots Fight Zombies
For Zomboat’s cast, we have sisters Kat and Jo, and brothers Sunny and Amar. Theirs is a chance meeting after the brothers stow away on a boat that Jo and Kat hijacked from Jo’s ex-boyfriend.
Kat, the youngest of the two, is every older sister’s worst nightmare for a little sibling; she’s a devout gamer and navigates through the end of the world using “epic gamer terminology”, like “power-ups” in referring to energy drinks, and “side-quests”, when they go out to save Amar’s friends (clearly, I’m not a gamer). She also possesses a strange, specific knowledge of narrowboats.
Jo, her older sister is a pretty, blonde thirty-something, whose into drinking lots of tequila, and stalking her ex-boyfriend on tracking apps, while claiming adamantly that she’s “over him”. She’s self-centered and extremely vain, but she isn’t stupid, though her incessant need to take a shower almost kills the entire crew a few episodes in. Between Jo’s stubbornness and inability to quit, and Kat’s experience and knowledge about things literally no-one else on this planet can give a shit about, the two make an unlikely, good team.
Amar, the older half of the brother duo, is a gym rat with a bad haircut, who puts a lot of effort into his skincare regimen and who thinks he knows how to hotwire a car because he saw someone on CSI Miami do it. He skimps on the carbs and often likes giving unsolicited advice on the matters of the heart. He drinks his ‘respect women juice’ by hiring a Burlesque dancer instead of a stripper because he thinks it to be more empowering towards women, and I’m completely biased because he’s by far the best character in this garbage fire.
Sunny, his brother, is a cynical bastard with a seemingly distasteful view of the world. He’s a drinker who doesn’t hold his booze all that well, lazy, and, in comparison to his brother and the sisters, doesn’t quite feel as fleshed out as the other three.
The First Episode Hump
The first episodes of these sort of things (cheap-y streaming service TV shows) are always a hit or miss, and, in honesty, a lot of it was a miss. The ‘bumbling idiots try to navigate the end of the world’ has already been done to death (“Sean of the Dead”, anyone?) and in honesty, I wasn’t sold on this ensemble of characters. The jokes weren’t all that funny, like the overdone “I have to take a snap of these zombies eating a person but oh no the sound was on and they heard me” obligatory scene with Amar and Sunny and the first zombie kill that takes fifteen years cause they just throw random things at it and scream in terror as the zombie gets closer. It gets old after thirty seconds.
I’ll give Zomboat this, though; the scenes where characters are shrieking and revving up the boat engine to escape from the zombie horde, only for the camera to cut back to this extremely slow narrowboat going exactly three miles an hour down the Thames is absolutely hilarious.
It’s been done at least three times throughout the episodes, and I laugh out loud every time I see the zombies (slow zombies, mind you! Rage virus, eat your heart out!) traveling faster than the boat.
I wasn’t huge on the first episode, and even by the end of the first season, this feels more like a show that’s comforting to have on as background noise, and not something I’d waste my time writing fanfic on.
But, but but but, for all of its mediocrity, I have nothing bad to say about the characters and the crazy shit they get up to; between Kat’s inappropriate gamer analogies while fighting for their lives, and Amar’s unabashed love for skin exfoliation, I gotta give it to the cast. The four are really the only thing carrying this show.
Thoughts So Far…
Zomboat! is goofy zombie antics and really nothing more than that, but I’m not looking for every single piece of media I watch to be the next American (or in this case, British) Classic.
Isn’t it enough to watch four assholes out-walk the apocalypse in the world’s ugliest riverboat?
I don’t see poor ol Zomboat! lasting for more than a couple seasons (if they even make it past season one) but here’s hoping that they let the series run for a time. Crossing my fingers that they don’t do me dirty and cancel Zomboat! like they did Crazyhead; yeah, Netflix, I haven’t forgotten.