Published on February 14th, 2017 | by Francois Biber


Santa Clarita Diet

In The Santa Clarita Diet, Drew Barrymore brings her zombie-like acting to roost on a show where she plays a suburban mom that eats flesh.

**This review contains spoilers**

It’s not often that my girlfriend comes to me with the idea of watching a new show. Frankly, I’m happy enough re-watching episodes of Seinfeld, The Office, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But every so often I veer away from the classics and straight into the realm of ‘what the hell did I just watch?’

That expressed both how I felt after watching the first episode of Santa Clarita Diet and how I still feel days after binge-watching my way through the 10-episode sitcom starring the ageless Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant.

So back to how I started watching: in a ball of excitement my girlfriend suggested we watch this new show on Netflix. She explained that she saw the trailer in an alert-email from Netflix notifying her of the new release. She urged me to watch the trailer beforehand as well, however, I was fine with watching anything with Drew Barrymore in it … cough, cough, choke … I mean, anything with Timothy Olyphant in it.

If you’re like me and you didn’t watch the trailer, lordy were you in for a surprise about the plot. Santa Clarita Diet follows a married couple, real-estate agents Sheila and Joel Hammond, as they struggle to hold onto listings in the posh suburb of Los Angeles, California. But then something funky happens and the show turns into a mix of Sex and the City and The Walking Dead (though it’s not the end of the world). In the middle of competition with another real estate broker, Sheila, played by Barrymore, begins to violently vomit during a viewing of a home the couple has had difficulty selling.

Violently vomiting is an understatement.

We’re talking about projectile vomiting to the level that you probably thought producers were lugging Gatorade coolers full of puke to the set to create the desired picture post-violent vomiting. I’m talking pale-green and everywhere. I don’t have a strong stomach, so what I saw was partially blocked by my hands covering my face. Thankfully it was over before anything went spewing in my living room.

So, what the hell did I just watch?

We all know what a mombie is, right? It’s the pop culture term for the state mothers find themselves in as they manage family life, work, and extra-curriculars that keep them on the move and lacking sleep, because, you know, children. This is where the show got clever on me.

Sheila is a zombie, but not the rotten, rip-faced, bloody-mouthed zombies we’re used to seeing in The Walking Dead, nor the genetically enhanced super zombies of the Resident Evil film series. Sheila looks pretty normal. She can carry a conversation, smile, laugh and attend her morning walks with neighbouring housewives. So how is she a zombie? Well, mostly because she doesn’t have a pulse, doesn’t bleed when she cuts her hand and because of her unquenchable thirst for human flesh, which viewers quickly learn, is the only thing she eats. If she doesn’t get her fill? That’s when the show really ramps up. Momma needs to eat.

And while Sheila doesn’t look like the zombies we see in other TV shows, she sure devours people in gruesome fashion, which again, I could not fully watch.

The show brings some comedic elements for husband Joel, facing the reality of needing to kill in order to keep his wife happy and full, mostly circling around ideas of how to kill and who to kill. The show also offers is fair share of suspense with a deputy sheriff snooping around, wondering what the couple is up to, until he eventually gets tied into the whole murder-for-food scheme.

The bottom line in this show is that Joel is freaking hilarious and really carries the show. While Sheila is the centre of attention, her husband is really the rock in the relationship and the show. It’s Joel who goes out of his way to help find a cure for his loving wife, going the extra mile to cover up the horrific sins that keep his wife satisfied and never giving up hope that one day life under the scorching California sun will go back to normal.

If you don’t like cliffhanger endings, well, I’m not sure how you’ll feel about how this first season wrapped up. You probably will be left holding the bowl of popcorn stunned and surprised. Seeing the inevitable, Sheila believes she has no other choice but to lock herself out from the outside world and under the thought she may harm her own family, she chains herself in the basement, while her family frantically shoots for one last effort to cure what ails her.

Then, just like the horrible anticipation of pain that comes from ripping off a blood-soaked Band-Aid, the show and all the questions are left unanswered and the pain is over in a flash.

What about this last-ditch injection from the witch doctor? Did Joel get the bile from the drunken grandmother? What’s going to happen with the daughter who injected herself with the would-be cure, that’s not really a cure?

Maybe it’s a big let down or pure genius, but it has me hooked, so possibly it’s more genius writing than anything. I’m by hungry waiting for season two.

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About the Author

in his own words: "My name is Francois. I have a girlfriend, she's nuts and if she knows I've been talking to people, she will hunt them down and do horrible things to exact her revenge. Three things I cannot live without: heavy metal, board games, football...oh and my girlfriend."

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