As Syfy's newest zombie drama Z Nation has learned, saying the Z-word is a bold move in an era that has seen the meteoric rise of AMC's The Walking Dead.
But DJ Qualls, who stars in the drama premiering tonight, isn't worried about the comparisons.
"We don't feel any sort of competition," he says. "We have similar subjects but we're completely different."
Qualls' character, nicknamed Citizen Z, is one example of exactly that.
On the show, the actor plays a man who's trapped at a National Security Agency listening post in the Arctic, out of reach of the zombie apocalypse and set up with years-worth of supplies. He also has access to all of NSA's technology, meaning he acts as a guide to the wayward survivors who are attempting to get one man — who is thought to have the secret to a cure for the disease that causes zombie transformations — to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in California.
In that premise is another difference, says Qualls.
"I think our show is maybe a little more hopeful, too," he says. "We have a goal that seems kind of attainable — even though it's hard — we have hope to save mankind."
The show will track the survivor's trek and, as a result, find them having to fight their way through danger, rather than run from it.
"We're not in a camp somewhere holed up, we have to engage," says the actor, who formerly starred on FX's now-cancelled Legit.
Marooned Citizen Z is sort of the exception to that rule — for now, anyway — but that provides Qualls with a welcomed feeling of job security.
"The cool thing is I can't really be killed by a zombie because there aren't really any around."
Z Nation premieres Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy. Watch an exclusive clip above.