Today we're thrilled to welcome Allison Brennan (Make Them Pay) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. We love Allison's thrilling Lucy Kincaid series, but great romantic suspense television is hard to find—especially with Castle off the air, and Bones approaching its final season. However, Allison is here today with a few of hr faves that are still on the air! Thanks, Allison!
Castle is gone. Bones is going. What shows that appeal to a romantic suspense lover are still around?
Well, until someone decides to make Sean & Lucy into a television series (which I think would fill this huge gap) I’ve been thinking about why I've enjoyed Bones so much over 12 seasons.
Bones had that special something that made me want to tune in every week. Better, it was a show I could watch with my kids who like mysteries and forensics and all the same things I do. Bones had compelling mysteries, a dark comedic edge, forensic intrigue, and a strong romantic subplot. (Yes, they screwed up the payoff when Bones and Booth went to bed — you can read my commentary here. *LINK*) But with only a few minor hiccups over the years, Bones has always been both a fun and smart show. But it’s always been fun and smart. The sexual tension between Booth and Dr. Brennan has always kept viewers on their toes, and I’m still enjoying their relationship now that they’re married with two kids. There is a natural maturity to the show that still gives us darkly comic forensic storylines.
So what’s out there that blends great crime drama with sexual tension? Unfortunately, not much. The DC Comics franchise on the CW (specifically Arrow) satisfy my need for action and tension, but the romantic subplots are really very sub-plotty. Marvel’s Daredevil has a better romantic subplot, but it’s still a subplot. Law & Order: SVU satisfies my need for a good crime drama, but has even fewer romantic angles—and usually they're a bit twisted. When Liv finally gets a good guy in Lt. Tucker, she doesn’t have time for him. It kind of made me sad that she couldn’t find a better balance between her work and her personal life, but for her character it fit. There’s The Blacklist and the fun thing about Season 3 was the subplot about Liz, Tom, and Liz’s pregnancy. But it’s certainly not going to fill this void, and that subplot has run its course with nothing to replace it.
Truth is, there is little out there that can replace Castle or Bones. If there is, I haven’t seen it. Much of the crime drama that deals in relationships doesn’t do the romantic relationship justice. It’s difficult to balance great suspense with great chemistry, but as Bones has showed, it can be done and done well with the right casting and the right stories.
The show that comes the closest is iZombie.
Stay with me here.
Dr. Olivia Moore (Liv) goes to a houseboat party with a friend and after a massacre, wakes up and craves brains. She’s a zombie. She learns quickly that as long as she has a regular supply of gray matter, she won’t turn into a violent killer, so she quits her job in the hospital and becomes the assistant to the M.E. at the morgue, Ravi, who is the only person who initially knows that she’s the undead. Liv gives up everything—her family, her hunky fiancé Major, her friends.
Even though she has had to make many sacrifices, she makes new friends, and quickly learns that when she eats the brains of the dead, she not only has some of their memories, she takes on elements of their personality. She convinces homicide detective Clive Babineaux that she’s psychic, so he lets her help on his cases. She's eaten the brains of a basketball coach, a petty criminal, a country music singer, an erotic romance writer and more. (Truly, actress Rose McIver is amazing and I would watch her in anything.) More important, Liv is a smart female character.
And, Liv quickly learns that she isn’t the only zombie out there in Seattle.
Major doesn’t understand why Liv left him, and he’s going through his own crisis because of it. Their paths will inevitably entwine as Major realizes that there are zombies killing troubled kids, he ends up in a psych ward, loses his job, and the first season ends in an explosive climax.
The crime aspect is fun and original with interesting cases and terrific bad guys and semi-bad guys—the stories will appeal to those who like a good mystery. The conflict between Liv and Major is genuine, and while they both have other love interests at times (ala Bones before season 7), we know that they are meant for each other—appealing to the romance lover in us. The cast is filled with great characters from the detective—smart but ignorant of the zombie world—to the M.E. Ravi —to the Big Bad of season one played by the incomparable David Anders. iZombie is a dark crime comedy with a terrific romantic subplot and even if zombies aren’t your thing, this is so different from any other zombie show out there I think you’ll love it.
(One tidbit: zombies can't taste anything unless it's super spicy, so they douse everything in hot sauce. Liv prepares some of the most inventive meals, they've become a highlight of the episode!)
SEE ALSO: Why the World Needs Dark Romance
Here’s a great exchange that shows the very real conflict between Major and Liv (after he learns she’s a zombie.)
(Liv tells Major that they both belong with their own kind)
Olivia Moore: Can we both be honest for a moment? We both know deep down that this can't work. Being a zombie has changed me. You love the woman I was before. You tolerate the woman I am now.
Major Lilywhite: Who you are now is only temporary.
Olivia Moore: This brain is temporary. But... The not being able to have sex, the day-to-day personality changes, that's the new normal. And that's what neither one of us is okay with. We're not. The truth is, we belong with our own kind.
Major Lilywhite: Is this... are we breaking up?
Olivia Moore: We have to.
But remember, this is also a comedy:
(Liv tells Major they have no future as a couple)
Olivia Moore: Unless there's a cure, we have no future as a couple.
Major Lilywhite: You sure about that?
Olivia Moore: Well, think about it. You've always wanted kids. That could never happen. No sex. Clearly, not ready to write that off.
Major Lilywhite: I seem to recall a couple items on the menu that don't involve exchanging fluids.
Olivia Moore: I could be holding your arm, walking down an icy sidewalk. I slip, I reach out for you, I scratch you, instant zombie.
Major Lilywhite: (Major leans to Liv) So far, to me, it sounds like all of our problems could be solved with condoms and rock salt.
Remember Veronica Mars? I loved that show, and iZombie has a similar feel — no surprise since it’s also created by Rob Thomas. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s worth diving into on Netflix to get caught up on seasons one and two before season three starts in April. You won’t regret it.
Let’s hope that The Powers That Be recognize that there is a void, and real romantic suspense is still in high demand. Can they find another great romantic suspense ala Bones and Castle (20 seasons of television between the two!) that will satisfy those of us who love a great romance with crime thriller? I’m crossing my fingers that zombies aren’t going to define romantic suspense from this point forward.
What about you? Are you going to miss Bones like me? Am I missing something great out there that combines a strong suspense plot with terrific sexual tension? Tell me! I'm ready to binge watch something good!
Learn more about or order a copy of Make Them Pay by Allison Brennan, available now:
ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books, including the Lucy Kincaid series, and numerous short stories. She lives in Northern California with her husband, five children, and assorted pets. You can reach her through her website, www.allisonbrennan.com.
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