What If Zombies Caused COVID? They Did In This Dark Women-Led Comedy

In the world of The Bite, reality is reimagined. As the coronavirus pandemic causes people to turn into zombies, it's up to some fierce female characters to kick the disease to the curb.
Leading the cast of the six-part dark comedy streaming on Paramount+ from August 25 is multi-Tony award winner Audra McDonald, who plays Rachel, a doctor resorting to online consultations from her kitchen when the pandemic hits. Orange Is The New Black's Taylor Schilling portrays Lily, a frustrated writer who continues her day job as a dominatrix.
While the pair lives in the same apartment block, it's not until disaster strikes that they became unlikely partners in a bid to save the world. When news emerges that zombie attacks may have started as the result of a new COVID variant, Rachel gets cracking on the science behind this development, while Lily contact traces the flesh eaters.
The dark comedy could not be complete without a government cover-up. And as the elderly are warned they won't be able to outrun the disease, herd immunity means everyone becomes a zombie.
Taylor Schilling in The Bite
While the real COVID-19 paused production on many Hollywood projects last year, the cameras kept rolling for this cast in late 2020.
We spoke to Hamilton favourite Phillipa Soo, who takes on the role of Cydni, a White House aide.
"We started filming it in the late fall and that was the height of the pandemic," Soo told Refinery29 Australia over the phone. "The production did a really great thing making sure that we were completely safe showing up to set.
"We were coming in on the day and not making any contact with anyone. Our hair and makeup were remote, our costume [team] were remote. Everything was there set up so that we could just come in and start acting."
The show is obviously inspired by the serious health crisis our world is facing, but Soo said creating a lighthearted show about "a period of time when that was very much the forefront of our reality" was actually comforting.
Phillipa Soo in The Bite
"It’s such a fun genre – the zombie genre – because it can be very different," she explains. "It can be very broad or it can be very action-packed and it can be scary and surprising. So this is definitely a more lighthearted approach, definitely through a satirical lens.
"I think it really functions as a way to help us understand our own reality and what we’re going through, and to turn it on its head and look at it and say, 'Oh wow, this is what they’re experiencing in this story and it’s absurd and ridiculous, but there are some things that are absurd and ridiculous in a different way about our reality'."
As we wrapped up our chat, Soo said that if nothing else was taken away from this, the genre really speaks for itself, because "just from a base level, who doesn't love zombies?"
The Bite premieres on Paramount+ on August 25.

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