The Santa Clarita Diet, much like any diet, is equal parts depraved hilarity and utter horror. Drew Barrymore delivers her usual lovable charm and charisma while her on-screen husband Timothy Olyphant showcases the universal desperation to just be a nice, normal family. Somehow this show manages to be completely relatable and also completely deranged. Joel and Shelia are a normal couple who struggle with the same issues all of us do: making time for each other; be successful at work; and of course, trying not to murder their neighbours. The title is a pun on the infamous South Beach Diet, which completely cuts out all carbohydrates and sugars. The Santa Clarita diet is actually more restrictive, cutting everything out except human flesh. While faced with an impossible situation, the Hammonds manage to remain a family. It’s a heartwarming story. Even if Shelia is undead.
Santa Clarita Diet centres around the Hammond family and their new predicament. Shelia (Barrymore) and Joel (Olyphant) are high school sweethearts turned real estate brokers with a teenage daughter. Together they’re navigating family life in this modern era when suddenly – and very disgustingly – Shelia turns into a zombie after a series of grotesque vomiting. Now they’re trying to navigate being a family and figure out how to curb Shelia’s hunger. Joel attempts to uncover a cure for his wife’s peculiar ailment but Shelia kills a co-worker, a man they rear end, and their neighbour who is also a cop. They are aided by the literal boy next door, Eric (Skyler Gisondo), who is the resident zombie expert. The cover up of these deaths coupled with finding the balance between who they can and cannot kill leaves the writers with plenty of hilarious yet dark material.
“I have to kill somebody today so you can eat them, sweetheart. I’m worried about Abby too, but I can’t stop thinking about the murdering and eating thing.”
Through teenage rebellion, covering up multiple murders and dealing with Shelia’s complete lack of impulse control, Santa Clarita Diet manages to hit the relatable nail on the head 9/10 times. The show masterfully executes dark sitcom, and the morbid humor somehow makes the show more realistic. As if we would react the same way if our mother became a mombzie. After all, the family that murders together, stays together. It helps that Barrymore and Olyphant bring the mundane to the unbelievable in this very twisted comedy. While the graphic nature of the show overshadows some of the finer points of its humor it’s generally well done despite small amounts of repetition. And the chemistry between Barrymore and Olyphant is undeniable.
Santa Clarita Diet is definitely worth a taste even if it requires a twisted sense of humour and a strong stomach. Definitely not a comedy for the faint of heart. However, if you can get past the gore there is something uniquely funny underneath. But the most important aspect of the show is the realistic dynamic between the Hammond family. Through their dysfunction, they somehow become undeniably relatable. And that makes the show not only have heart, but also balance the morbid humour and shocking gore.
My Rating: 7/10