After a weekend filled with depression, decompression and hard bingeing a series I kind of can’t believe exists, I have come to an inevitable conclusion: Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet is low-key brilliant.
The show imagines Drew Barrymore as undead SoCal real estate agent Sheila, with hapless husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant, charming as always and clearly having the best time) and firebrand daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) in tow. And it very much has a little bit of everything: fantastical Serbian lore! A zombie head played by Nathan Fillion! Awkward teenage romance! And um, Nazis who get their comeuppance! Not to be hyperbolic, but the ten hours I spent on Saturday watching seasons one and two were probably the most blissful ten hours I've experienced in 2018 so far.
That’s because, for as gory and insane as Santa Clarita Diet is, it’s relatively harmless. Sure, Sheila has to eat people to survive, or pieces of her body start rotting off. And yeah, there are a lot of scenes of Sheila trying to reattach certain parts of her body — or violently detaching pieces of her victim’s bodies in a bloodthirsty rage, no big. But you already know nothing bad is actually going to happen, at least not to the loveable, bumbling protagonists.
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For what it’s worth, Sheila and Joel are in a very precarious predicament. You try dealing with an infection that makes you a sentient, horny zombie with boundless energy and a hankering for brains. Actually, more than brains — Sheila spends a lot of time waxing poetic about what body parts she considers delicacies.
Despite its heightened reality, Santa Clarita Diet is buoyed by a sense of relatability. Sheila is reinvigorated by her zombie-hood, and gains a new lust for life. Joel learns very quickly that murder is not for the faint of heart. And Abby, well. Abby is just going around being an annoying teen so, whatever.
It also benefits by being light enough that you don't have to pay attention to every second of the series to know what’s going on. You can pretty much infer that the Hammonds are bad at killing, but are good at killing only bad dudes. Yes, Sheila’s victims are always men. And considering her first inclination to kill is spurred by a creepy, predatory man who can’t take no for an answer, one could almost argue that Sheila is the best bet to lead the fight against the patriarchy, one bite of testes at a time.
Did I mention the show is very graphic?
Too long, didn’t read? Get yourself on a couch, stat, and watch every single episode of Santa Clarita Diet. It’s fine and funny and Timothy Olyphant can still get it.