In The Flesh—finishing its fabulous, ridiculous, heartsick second season—is the only TV show you ever need to watch again. It is a weird, deep, dark show about the metaphysics of existentialism written across the milk-white flesh of British countrymen and -women. It is about gay British zombies.
And other British zombies! To say that the series is an allegorical supernatural drama probably makes you think of True Blood, which you shouldn't, because True Blood has never hidden a single part of itself from our view. To say In The Flesh is like nothing else on television does a disservice to difference. In The Flesh is like everything else on television, all at once.
Often in supernatural dramas that center themselves on the monsters—like True Blood or the BBC's Being Human or its SyFy adaptation or Angel—our morality and senses of metaphor and sympathy are all tangled together. It is not, strictly speaking, okay when Angel kills Giles' girlfriend, but it's mostly okay, because Angel is trying. We forgive him to continue the narrative of his redemption, his approach toward the horizon of humanity. In The Flesh predicates something else: Its zombies are not infected and they were not, strictly speaking, "turned" by someone else. Their atrocities have no explanation other than themselves and Kieren cannot be anything other than what he is: a gay British teenager who rose from the dead and ate some people, before being rehabilitated.
This is the truest test: to make meaning from the rising of the dead, the resilience of those who survived them, and the impossible shape of the future which wonders if we might come to know and forgive ourselves in the stead of absolution. If we might arrive finally at some common definition of ourselves. I have thoughts—so many!—to share in the comments. But we should start here, I think: Love is an argument for itself. So is life.
[Image via BBC]