Synopsis: Santa Clarita Diet follows the deadly antics of a recent zombie and her mostly supportive family as they try to maintain a “normal” life despite her more unusual and ravenous cravings.
Santa Clarita Diet stands as a middle ground between the wholesome fun of a show like iZombie and the somewhat twisted morality of Dexter. It is neither quite as fun nor quite as disturbing as those two, respectively. It makes for an enjoyable watch, but has a somewhat unfulfilling conclusion. Now perhaps that was me misunderstanding the situation – I assumed there was only going to be one season – but it is left completely open-ended, with very little resolved.
Overall, the casting is perfection and the dynamics between the main cast is what makes this show worth watching. Drew Barrymore, playing Sheila Hammond, brings a quirky perspective to the suburban house mom trope as her personality swings from impulsive to reserved to impulsive again, and there is something absolutely hilarious about watching the physicality of her character as she takes on much larger prey in a pink rain poncho.
One of the funniest scenes comes as she attacks a known drug dealer, while her husband, played by Timothy Olyphant, attempts to simply get his rain slicker on to avoid blood on his clothes. He then also fails to actually stop the drug dealer who was bitten by Sheila, but that’s a story for another day.
The interesting thing about this story is that they leave so many questions unanswered. There are some vague implications about the Eastern European origins of this particular zombie (“I don’t like that word.”) mythology, but nothing is ever completely explained away.
Olyphant’s character goes on several research expeditions seeking the answer to his wife’s ailment, and honestly, his entire character is the best part of this story. At several points, he stands within a drugstore simply starring at various objects, contemplating the nature of his life now, with only a poor store clerk’s vague responses to help him (so reminiscent of Aubrey Plaza’s character in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). It’s the story of a man trying to make sense of his new dead wife.
For Sheila Hammond, she worries about her relationship with her daughter, who quickly discovers her mother’s eating habits. She tries to encourage her daughter to go to college, to stop skipping classes, and to open up to her about her own problems and life. She’s a cool mom, even if she’s eating the neighbors.
A fun aspect of the show is the relationship between their two neighbors, one, a serious, angry, and probably dirty LAPD officer, and the second, a cheery family man and Los Angeles Sheriff. If you know anything about LA, these are fun tropes on the perception of these two groups: one positive, the other not so much. These personalities also play into the overall storyline, with one being a catalyst of their murdering ways, and the other being simply a nuisance as he constantly pops up at inappropriate times.
Finally, this show does have a refreshingly positive portrayal of a family. Instead of the daughter (played by Liv Hewson) standing in opposition to her family, she engages with them, and the parents interact with her as an equal and intelligent individual. There’s no family drama, apart from what drama murder creates.
While this is in no way the best series Netflix has produced, it is definitely worth watching, and given that it is only 10 episodes long, all it takes is a day or two of binge-watching to get through. Definitely fun if you can stomach some blood, gore, and shit tons of vomit. Just be prepared, it doesn’t conclude, but leaves you awaiting another season, should Netflix request one.