The world of reality television is ever-evolving, and Netflix’s recent foray into the mix with “Zombieverse” has definitely garnered attention, albeit of a mixed kind. The brainchild of renowned producers Park Jin-kyung and Moon Sang-don, “Zombieverse” throws 10 celebrities right into the chaotic heart of Seoul, which is grappling with a sudden zombie outbreak. The celebrities aren’t merely there to escape the undead; they’re tasked with a series of challenges and quests that test their wit and resilience.
For Park Jin-kyung, chief producer of the show, watching the feedback change daily has been a fascinating experience. The initial reactions were polarized, oscillating between confusion and enthusiasm. But as days turned into weeks, a more positive consensus began to emerge, primarily on digital platforms like social media. Park reflected on the beginning, saying, “On the first day of its release, it felt as if the viewers were trying to compartmentalize it. But as time passed, we noticed a gradual shift, with more people starting to appreciate our unique concept.”
This isn’t the typical run-of-the-mill reality TV experience. Park, with a rich history in reality television, notably with “My Little Television,” and Moon Sang-don, famed for his travel series “Hey! First Time in Korea?”, crafted “Zombieverse” to redefine expectations. Their aim? To push boundaries and blend genres. While the show’s core might echo reality TV, it is, in essence, a comedy variety show.
Park explains, “We extensively researched existing formats. Zombie themes are prevalent in dramas, but they’re a rarity in reality TV. Those few that did exist leaned heavily towards a realistic portrayal, which honestly, made for grim viewing. With ‘Zombieverse,’ our goal was to infuse humor, turning conventional zombie narratives on their head.”
This innovative blending of genres – the horror of zombies, the unpredictability of reality TV, and the light-heartedness of comedy – understandably leads to divided reactions. “The quintessential zombie scene is intense, filled with suspense and inevitable death,” Park continued, “We wanted to leap beyond this, amalgamating zombies with comedy and variety.”
The creators also clarified a burning query: Is “Zombieverse” scripted? Their response was an emphatic “no.” Park stressed that the main cast had no scripts or predefined directives. They merely set the stage, placing celebrities in certain scenarios, and let natural reactions take over. Moon elaborated on this, “No predetermined decisions on which celebrity gets bitten or turned. We merely decided the consequences post-bite.”
Moon also emphasized the meticulous efforts behind the zombie portrayal, “We dedicated an entire space for setting and practice, trying different situations. We took utmost care in making the zombies appear as authentic as possible.”