Written by J. Weagle
In 2017 if you really want to bore me announce a new property with a zombie premise and you will likely achieve your goal. It’s because of this that I found it very difficult to approach the newest Netflix original show Santa Clarita Diet with anything more than questionable doubt when I started watching it. Now, having completely finished the ten episode first season I can say that while it isn’t as bad as I had originally thought it’s still far from the quality I’ve come to expect from a Netflix original.
The show follows the married couple of Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and his wife Shiela (Drew Barrymore) who are both Real Estate Agents in Santa Clarita, California. Things are pretty standard until Shiela dies and returns to life, only now she has a hunger for raw human flesh. While I will not give any spoilers, the ten episodes explore how the family deal with this new change while trying to continue to fit into the California suburb. The main issue with the Santa Clarita Diet is that it feels at this point no matter what you with the zombie genre it has already been done before.
What works with show, is that at times it can be really funny. I love horror comedies but it is a genre that has been mostly overlooked by television in favor of more edgy serious tones such as The Walking Dead. Mixing comedy with horror is already a difficult thing to do when trying to make it work for a ninety minute film, stretching that out to ten, forty-five minute episodes is an almost impossible task. While the jokes aren’t consistent in quality throughout it does a pretty decent job with the laughs.
A big part of why the laughs work is the comedy duo of Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. Both are pretty dead on when delivering lines and Barrymore thrives in comedy roles that allow her odd goofball personality to shine through. Santa Clarita Diet acts as the perfect space for her to show off her quirky sense of humor in a lead role as someone who we grow to love and relate to. Her ability to be charming while chewing on a foot removed from a corpse shows just how good she can be. On the other hand, Olyphant came off as a complete surprise for me and is without a doubt the funniest part of the show as the husband and father who supports his wife in her flesh eating ways while trying to maintain a normal life.
While the show is funny it also doesn’t shy away from the violent side of things. There are some pretty good scenes of gore but it did feel at times that the show was trying a bit too hard to be edgy and shocking. Anyone who fancy’s themselves a horror nerd nothing in Santa Clarita Diet will shock or offend you but anyone outside the realm of horror, who I imagine this show is trying to target, may be put off by some of the more grosser moments. None of the violence is taken seriously however, and it usually followed by a joke or funny situation.
If you’re a fan of horror comedies with lots of dark humor and Drew Barrymore than Santa Clarita Diet is right up your ally. With that being said be prepared for a ton of cliches and a storyline that is not half as satisfying as it should be. It is nice to see Netflix take a risk on a show like this, I just wish more effort was put into delivering a unique show instead of a rehash of things we have seen before. While the show isn’t groundbreaking television it is a fun light watch with a good balance of gore and laughs.