They just had to do it. Robert and Michelle King made The bite, a zombie apocalypse comedy filmed in New York City during the Lockdown. The results are… interesting. If you’re in the right mood or in the right mindset, you might even find it entertaining. It is an acquired taste. The bite is a shaggy dog comic horror series about a doctor (Audra mcdonald) and a dominatrix (Taylor schilling) in New York City trying to solve the zombie apocalypse during the COVID lockdown as the world marches to its death. Rachel (McDonald) and Lily (Schilling) are neighbors in a chic brownstone from Hell’s Kitchen. Rachel is a doctor who takes care of her patients, all neurotic and self-obsessed New Yorkers, during telemedicine sessions. Lily is a dominatrix who always makes money through virtual sessions with her clients while arguing with her book editor about her impending memoir about her work and whether she should publish under her real name. Then Rachel sees her patients get bitten and turn into zombies.
One of Lily’s clients turns into a zombie and she is stuck in her apartment with him. Rachel tries to work with her husband Zach (a wonderfully dead end Steven pasquale), bonded the CDC in Washington DC with the scientist he had previously had an affair with (Philippa soo), who have both had to watch their backs since the Trump administration blew them into the neck and insists on downplaying the severity of the pandemic to the public, not to mention a zombie apocalypse that stops COVID. Rachel and Lily become the only two competent people in New York to try to find the origin and cure for the zombie apocalypse, but time is running out for the city and maybe the world.
It’s hard to tell if The bite is a good show. The unique 6-episode miniseries makes his intentions very clear as he goes. It’s a devious horror satire on the pandemic and the bad political decisions behind the policies that led to the lockdown and that continued throughout the period. If you’re a producer and a company offers you the money to make an entire TV show, you take the deal. Even though you are the creators and showrunners of The good fight and Wrong. You don’t say no to job offers, especially these days. It’s nice to be wanted.
The bite is possibly the last of the locked-down TV shows that both US and UK TV networks have made during the pandemic. The biggest hit of the trend remains the BBC Staging, featuring David tennant and Michael sheen like actors on the loose going mad while stuck in their homes. The bite is decidedly not a success – for starters, it’s only on the exclusive streaming division of a cable service that not everyone in the US has access to. The critical reaction to The Bite seems to have more to do with the emotional hooks from critics and the trauma of being locked in real life than the actual merits of the show itself. The scattered, satirical and wacky tone of the series was common in many shows and films during the 1970s and began to die out in the 1980s.
It seems critics born after the 1980s don’t know how to handle this tone and are fiercely allergic. It is a sly vision of the world which does not fall on a single square of “serious” or “funny” but which likes to overlap the two. It’s a state of mind to be able to hold two different feelings or thoughts at the same time when the brains of most critics are now strictly binary. The absurd situations and bizarre characters stack up as the show goes on. McDonald and Schilling founded the story with the comedic desperation of being perhaps the last two sane people in New York City as the world sleepwalks through hell. This is Schilling’s first major television series since the end of Orange is the new black, and she’s very, very funny as the resourceful Lily, who uses her social skills as a domineering to help Rachel figure out the zombie outbreak.
If you read the reviews of The bite, including the most outraged, you might think the kings had committed some sort of cardinal sin of gross insipidity, exploiting the mood of angst during the lockdown. You’d think Robert and Michelle King drowned some puppies and put the video on Tiktok or something. They were just trying to make viewers laugh, which is a very honorable thing to do when everyone is miserably stuck at home with depression and angst. Whether you like it or not, The bite captures The Moment It Was Created, a pop culture time capsule from that horrific and bizarre 2020 year where the world was on lockdown and everyone was forced to put their normal lives on hold and stay home from afraid of catching the plague. The hidden subtext of The bite is that the entire cast is made up of New York Broadway actors who must have been relieved and grateful to have a show. The actors need to act and the Kings might have done more for the Broadway actors than many others in the business by employing them in what could be the Last Lockdown TV series, even though it’s a series that critics overly sensitive and rather concerned about themselves seemed to hate it.
The funniest and most voyeuristic part of The bite and all of these shows shot on lockdown over the last 12 months, we have to see what the homes of these actors look like. Flash info: they live in houses and apartments that are much nicer than yours! The bite broadcasts only on Spectrum TV now. It could end up on Netflix later.
And since you are here …
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