Netflix Original Santa Clarita Diet is Drop-Dead Hilarious
From The Walking Dead to iZombie to In the Flesh, television shows that center around the undead eating humans and wreaking havoc has infiltrated the media in full force. However, very few of these shows would be considered a comedy or lighthearted. Enter the new Netflix original Santa Clarita Diet. Starring Drew Barrymore as Shelia Hammond and Timothy Olyphant as her husband, Joel Hammond. Santa Clarita Diet is about a pair of boring, middle aged, married real estate agents who live in California. Their lives are fairly typical until Shelia inexplicably becomes a zombie. Once she is a zombie, Shelia’s entire personality changes, turning her into a daring and animated character, while also creating an insatiable hunger for live human flesh.
Throughout the first few episodes, the audience watches as Shelia and Joel realize that she cannot eat animals or even a corpse, but rather her hunger can only be satisfied by eating someone who is alive. In true sweetheart fashion, Joel promises Shelia she won’t have to murder on her own and the duo form a loving, murderous team. Once their minds are set on murder, they begin plotting “acceptable” people to kill. Searching for a “young, single Hitler”, the two eventually settle on killing drug dealers, a pedophile who recently moved into their suburban neighborhood, and other individuals considered to be the scum of society.
Santa Clarita Diet is a perfect show for those who love dark, deadpan comedy. It is most reminiscent of the 90’s gothic classic Edward Scissor Hands mixed with Desperate Housewives and Dexter. Unlike many traditional sitcoms however, this show does not shy away from gore, blood, or having the main character munch on a severed arm while making jokes about murder. Santa Clarita Diet takes the idea of a “monster” existing within suburban, white picket fence America and it creates an ongoing commentary on the extensive consumerism found within the U.S. When Shelia becomes a zombie, she not only is going around impulsively consuming the people around her, but she also goes on to frivolously spending mass amounts of money on material things. From mansions to cars to a kitchen remodel that would make a world renowned chef drool, not only is Shelia craving her neighbor’s flesh, she’s also the embodiment of lust and greed for material belongings.
Overall, the show is new and interesting. However, no show is perfect and this one has its problems as well. As with many endeavors in comedy, there are many jokes that fall flat when played out on the screen. While these less-than-funny-jokes don’t happen all the time, they happen frequently enough to make the audience wonder if watching through all the way is worth it. However, the interactions between Joel and Shelia made finishing the show completely worth the somewhat less appealing comedic moments. Barrymore and Olyphant being able to mix the absurd and the mundane, such as excitedly handing a smoothie over and yelling “I found a bag of his face behind the ice cream!” help to keep the comedy alive, even if the main protagonist isn’t.