Santa Clarita Diet is an easily-watchable, fantastically unique series available on Netflix.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
Santa Clarita Diet is created by Victor Fresco and is also Executive Produced by (and stars) Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant.
I knew nothing of the show, and the Netflix image associated with the show (see below), gave only a hint to the audience of what to expect.
What’s the plot?
Joel and Sheila Hammond (Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore) are married realtors living the idealistic upper-middle-class life in the Santa Clarita neighbourhood.
We are introduced to some supporting characters that form the backbone of the subplots and character interactions.
The Hammonds have a rebellious teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson), a couple of nosy neighbours and a new co-worker who immediately starts flirting with Sheila and looking to steal their clients.
Nosy Neighbours 1 are Dan Palmer (Ricardo Chavira), Lisa Palmer (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) and their “creeper” son (Lisa’s son from another marriage), Eric Bemis (Skyler Gisondo).
Nosy Neighbours 2 are Rick (Richard T. Jones) and Alondra (Joy Osmanski).
The cause of much friction between 1 and 2 is that Dan is a sheriff’s deputy, while Rick is a Santa Monica police officer. Added to the mix is Gary Harris (slimily played by Nathan Fillion), newly arrived to Santa Clarita.
All seems well until Sheila projectile vomits while showing clients around a listing.
This plot device certainly got my attention and is a precursor to some great story arcs and sub plots, all of which utilise a parade of great characters.
Here are some fantastic sub-plot tasters (Insert joke about tasting human flesh):
- Sheila taking extreme self defence when Gary grinds his crotch against her. Sheila promptly kills him and eats (most) of him, marking her first kill as a Zombie.
- Joel snaps and kills Dan (who began blackmailing Joel after discovering Gary’s finger in the Hammond’s backyard) with a shovel.
- The Hammonds discovering Gary is now a Zombie (head).
- The series long story arc about why and how Sheila suddenly became a Zombie, with the Hammonds becoming psuedo detectives following every lead and eventually realising there’s going to be a Zombie epidemic if they don’t destroy imported Serbian clams.
- The Hammonds’ ongoing feud with rival realtors, Chris and Christa.
There are so many more sub-plots I could list. Perhaps the best of the lot is the development of Rite Aide employee Ramona (Ramona Young), a peripheral character who suddenly becomes a major character whose backstory is crucial in driving the narrative of the Hammonds searching for answers.
What makes Santa Clarita Diet so binge-worthy is that the writers skilfully place the audience in the same situation as the Hammonds – you demand answers and you get information in small quantities every episode.
The information given just leads to more questions, with the Hammonds pursuing each clue, all the while trying to feed Sheila’s insatiable appetite for human flesh.
It’s both hilarious and gross how the Hammonds find ways to feed Sheila. They insist they only kill people who are “bad”.
The character of Eric is used quite well at the start of the series as someone who has some knowledge of what a Zombie is and how to kill one. The character also fills the void of the necessary “Will they or won’t they” sub-plot with Abby Hammond.
Some negatives about Santa Clarita Diet.
An ongoing characteristic of the series (and off topic to say the least) is the insistence of the Hammonds to still become parents to Abby. They worry about her behaviour and Abby acting out.
Perhaps the writers wanted to show that no matter the Zombie situation, the Hammonds were still a family that ran into family related speed bumps.
Unfortunately, it comes across as a waste of time, or maybe even plain confusing. Having family issues at the same time that the family is mired in Zombie problems just doesn’t gel. Perhaps Victor Fresco wanted this to be the “quirky” trademark of Santa Clarita Diet.
A glaringly useless sub-plot is Abby becoming interested with Fracking operations in the area. There’s no rhyme or reason for Abby to become passionate about such operations and it feels like it’s a forced storyline for a key scene later on in Season 2.
Another forced storyline to me is the introduction of Dan’s partner, Anne Garcia (Natalie Morales), who obsessively investigates Dan’s appearance while hooking up with Dan’s wife. It felt like her character and her agenda was introduced as a way to invent more stress for the Hammonds.
So, with those negatives few negatives out of the way, why should you watch Santa Clarita Diet?
Sometimes a series comes along that sucks you into its narrative. And with its many twists and turns, Santa Clarita Diet has you crying for more episodes each time the credits roll.
Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore have great chemistry – and I’m just glad Adam Sandler is nowhere in sight. That’s always a huge bonus.
With its mixture of gore and gross comedy, Santa Clarita Diet made me laugh and say “Eww!” at the same time. And that’s a wonderful combo.
Bring on Season 3!
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