I just recently started the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet (with a play on the fad South Beach Diet) starring Drew Barrymore and definitely have mixed opinions on the show. A once-normal married couple, Sheila and Joel, are real estate agents who live and work in Santa Clarita, California. Their lives get turned upside down when one day Shelia begins her transformation from a regular mother and wife into a flesh-eating zombie. Once Sheila pukes up her insides and dies, she truly comes “alive”. After feasting on their creepy neighbor, Shiela discovers she can only survive on human bodies. The family, including their daughter Abby, take it upon themselves to kill people in order to supply Shiela with meals. With more people beginning to go missing, including a local sheriff, the neighborhood is becoming more and more suspicious. Along with eating more humans, Sheila must find a cure to her unknown condition before she disintegrates away and completely dies off. With the unconditional love and support from her family through these absurd new challenges, Sheila attempts to create normalcy as an undead human.
This series offers a lot of explicit and raw humor that definitely had me laughing out loud. Between making brain smoothies and cursing out her neighbors, Sheila’s self-exploration of her new personality is very entertaining. The short, action-packed episodes keep the audience on the edge of their seats as new conflicts are presented before they have time to reflect on the craziness. An important aspect of this comedy is the lack of depth and sense of morality that makes the everything so hilarious (and very unbelievable). Amidst this new issue, the family simply sets their morals and common sense aside to murder people. Quite literally without a blink of an eye. Sheila will snack on a man’s fingers like they are French fries and everyone at the dinner table is okay about it. Normal… right??
What is also interesting is the juxtaposition of this sunny, suburban, family neighborhood in California with the flesh-eating, zombie killer who happens to live there. This highlights that there is more than what we see on the surface and every family has secrets hiding behind their closed doors. For example, once the police begin searching for a man who Joel killed, instead of being worried, the man’s wife seems rather chipper and almost too at ease with the whole situation. She is seen flirting with one of the woman cops in many scenes, insinuating she has been having a lesbian affair during the search for her (dead) husband. Every family has their own unique dynamic, you know, whether your mom is having an affair or eating other people. There is no perfect household.
This article was an interesting look into some of these elements.
An aspect that turned me away from the show was it’s very graphic scenes. Without warning, I was watching Drew Barrymore biting off a man’s fingers one by one with blood squirting in every direction. In the next shot, I was watching her dig through a man’s dead body with his organs and limbs all over the ground. I was so disgusted and caught off guard that I had to switch to a different show for a little while. The questionable and almost inappropriate level of gore could throw people off. I am also not sure how long the writers can keep the show going because I feel the shock and humor may be hard to keep fresh. Although in general, the engaging plotline and laughable characters make the show a good watch.