Review: “Santa Clarita Diet” consists of human flesh and hilarity
Everybody dies but not everybody lives.
This may be true, however, what if it took dying to finally bring somebody to life?
Now, this notion may sound impractical but in the case of the Netflix Original Series “Santa Clarita Diet” that is exactly what happens. Drew Barrymore plays a woman who lives a life marked by a chain of safe decisions. She’s a romantic who doesn’t bend the rules or know how to say no.
So, one day when she comes home from work to discover her lack of a heartbeat living life on the safe side suddenly loses its appeal.
The new half-hour comedy falls somewhere between “Dexter” and “The Vampire Diaries” and is surprisingly satisfying.
“Santa Clarita Diet” dives into the seemingly normal lives of the Hammond family.
Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) wakes up one morning and tells her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant) that she wishes she could live a life where she was a mere 20 percent bolder. Sheila may not have known it at the time but later that day she would conquer her quest for boldness.
Between a few stomach pains, a little more than a normal amount of vomit and a mysterious red ball Sheila’s life is changed for good. The Hammond family spends the next 10 episodes trying to figure out what exactly caused Sheila to turn into a zombie.
The normal humdrum lives of the two Southern California realtors and their angst-filled teenage daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) soon change. From selling white picket fences to figuring out how to deal with Sheila’s hunger, increased libido and decreased impulse control brought on by an overrun id.
In spite of the fact that the viewer must suspend their disbelief at times — the main character does eat fingers as french fries, after all — SCD does a wonderful job of dissecting what happens when someone turns into a zombie. Rather than wandering around in desperate search for brains, Sheila is still able to process basic human emotion.
One of the biggest issues that come up is when Sheila realizes after tasting human flesh, she is no longer able to stomach raw animal meat. This revelation leads to Joel and Sheila promising to only kill the people who deserve it.
“The prototype would be a young, single Hitler,” Joel decides.
“Oh God, we’d be heroes,” Sheila agrees.
Though killing people, even the Hitler’s of the world proves to be a little more difficult than the two relators first imagined. Especially when their Santa Clarita house is sandwiched between a sheriff and a police officer.
Each scene in SCD is dripping with quick-witted humor. Between Joel confiding in random strangers that he encounters, Abby’s constant sarcastic remarks and Abby’s best friend Eric Bemis (Skyler Gisondo) figuring out how to come out of his shell, viewers are almost able to forget that Barrymore’s character must feed on human flesh to survive.
From the moment the Hammond’s realize Shelia’s heartbeat disappeared, Joel is determined to find a cure to fix the situation they’ve somehow stumbled into. Olyphant is magnificent in his role as Joel and carries the show’s comedic moments.
Regardless of being faced with the morally compromising position of killing people to keep Sheila alive, Joel stands strong in his love for his undead wife. He proves that in the face of a great, yet confusing circumstance, once shouldn’t run for the hills, but rather fight in the face of great danger.
Abby is a little more distraught than her father in the face of the beast her mother has become. Sheila’s zombification leads Abby to skip school, steal motorcycles and try to take down a drug dealer. Luckily, Abby has Eric by her side who manages to keep her from taking anything too far.
Despite one parent turning into a decomposing, flesh-eating monster, all Sheila and Joel care about at the end of the day is remaining good parents to Abby. In a show that surrounds one of the great evils of the world rests a message that even in the darkest of times all anyone really needs is a strong support system to get them through the roughest of times.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5)
The Crow’s Nest rates TV shows between one and five stars, with five stars being the highest possible score.
Photo courtesy of Netflix