A 666-Word Review of ‘The Santa Clarita Diet’
I’m sure by this point, everyone with any kind of social media account has gotten countless notifications about a new Netflix original show called The Santa Clarita Diet. Personally, I scrolled past quite a few Twitter ads thinking Drew Barrymore was just hocking another celebrity endorsed fad diet. Until, that is, I noticed the bowl full of eyeballs she was snacking on in the preview.
The Santa Clarita Diet is a new TV horror/comedy created by Victor Fresco (My Name is Earl, Better off Ted) available exclusively on Netflix. The first season, consisting of ten, 25ish minute long episodes, was released in its entirety on February 3rd, 2017.
Successful husband and wife real-estate duo Sheila (played by Drew Barrymore) and Joel (played by Timothy Olyphant) Hammond have the perfect suburban life. Until Sheila starts turning into a zombie for reasons unknown. The show revolves largely around Sheila, but each episode focuses on how she and her family are learning (and struggling) to adapt to Sheila’s new undead lifestyle. Whether it’s trying to figure out how to keep Sheila fed, hiding suspicious activity from their paranoid cop neighbors, or dealing with random body parts falling off, the Hammond family is in it together. Just when the family starts to get a handle on their new routine, however, they learn some disturbing news. Sheila is starting to lose control. If the family cannot figure out how to stop the progression of Sheila’s zombification, they can kiss normal (and maybe even Sheila herself) goodbye.
This show is unapologetically raunchy, foul-mouthed and kind of gross honestly, but in the best possible way. The gore effects are impressive to say the least, and definitely unexpected for a sitcom-style show. The first episode, for example, features projectile vomiting galore and a super fun cameo appearance that ends in graphic evisceration and consumption. But the show itself is so campy and light-hearted that the blood and guts aspect is not at all hard to stomach, even for the casual horror fan. The show delivers some genuine laugh-out-loud moments resulting as a mix between the absurd situational comedy and the characters themselves.
Drew Barrymore does a phenomenal job as the sweet but vicious Sheila. A character that loves her family more than anything, but can take down a full grown man with terrifying resolve. When she starts to lose her inhibitions and begins her much more carefree lifestyle, her character becomes more and more loveable with every obscene and crude statement that comes out of her mouth. And Timothy Olyphant as the charming, weed-smoking realtor who can’t seem to stop bonding with Sheila’s prospective meals delivers a very entertaining performance as well. Other supporting cast members include Liv Hewson as Abby, the Hammond’s rebellious but devoted daughter struggling to accept the fact that her mother kills and eats people, and Skyler Gisondo as Eric, the nerdy, zombie-obsessed neighbor trying to balance his intense crush on Abby with his desire to help her mom cope with her transformation.
My only real complaint about the show is that the end of the season felt a bit rushed. With Netflix originally announcing thirteen episodes instead of the ten that were delivered, I can’t help but feel that the producers were forced to cram several episodes worth of plot into the last episode and a half. It almost seems like the whole “mom is starting to lose control” plot line may have been introduced too early if they intend to continue the series in the future.
Nit-picking aside, The Santa Clarita Diet proved to be a fun and charming addition to Netflix’s list of original shows, definitely worthy of a binge-watch or two. Despite the definite horror element, you don’t need to be a tried-and-true horror fan to enjoy this show. As someone who doesn’t generally watch sitcoms, I genuinely enjoyed myself with this one (as evidenced by the fact that I watched the entire season in one night) and would highly recommend you give it a go.