Coming from somebody who spends most of her day writing real estate content, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to learn Santa Clarita Diet would center around California realtors. I mean, who can unwind when being constantly reminded of work? That being said, I can now avow for Santa Clarita Diet‘s on-point real estate jokes. That, and a humor and quirkiness that captivate even non-horror fans like myself.
Much like Drew Barrymore’s corpse cocktails, the mix of real estate, California, and zombies just didn’t sound appetizing. Still, I decided to watch Netflix’s new show because the trailer didn’t look bad, and I do love me some Drew Barrymore. So I dived in cautiously, as one does a cold pool. Wet a little toe first, retreat, try again, and eventually jump unattractively into the deep-end.
Sheila and Joel Hammond (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant) start off as your average realtor couple.
They have a daughter (Liv Hewson) and live in a nice house in between two cops. But even if their gags were entertaining, I wasn’t be sure if our relationship would last. Fortunately, things take an expected twist for the better when Sheila projectile vomits everywhere during a property viewing. Gross, I know. But it results in her death and promised rise as a zombie.
It was now a matter of determining if I could like a zombie-centric show. And I have to admit, the Santa Clarita diet itself was what almost made me give up on this show (which would’ve been a huge mistake). It was the blood gushing out of people that became quite off-putting for me. At first, almost to prove a point, the fake gore was dominating the narrative. But somewhere in the second episode, the fake blood takes a backseat, and the comedic and at times even wholesome aspects of Santa Clarita Diet took over.
The show is less about Sheila’s zombie condition and more about the everyday hurdles of needing to eat other humans to stay alive.
Knowing that she’s already dead fosters a newfound energy and confidence in Sheila. (I guess you can’t sweat life too much if you’re already dead). This creates a massive rift between the control freak Sheila used to be and the new rebel mom she’s become. When her family starts paying the price for her confusing situation, Sheila oscillates between forced guilt and compulsive indifference.
The greatest achievement of Drew Barrymore’s comeback show is how it appeals to different audiences and demographics simultaneously without losing its beat. Sure, it still holds the zombie element, but Sheila is still a mother, a neighbor, and a woman. Sometimes, she’s even still a realtor.
Timothy Olyphant is also fantastic in this show.
Joel is a supportive husband, but he’s definitely not taking the passenger seat while accompanying his wife on her journey. Joel has his own demons to slay, a past to reconcile himself with, and a pending wrestling with who he truly is as a person. Not knowing how to help his wife and being forced by circumstance to stand by as she commits atrocities takes a toll on Joel, even if the show makes a joke of it. Deep down, the viewer can sense Joel is unraveling, and eventually this unraveling becomes actionable. But for that, you have to wait and see.
My favorite character is the Hammonds’ dorky next door neighbor Eric.
He’s in love with Sheila and Joel’s daughter Abby. Because Eric (Skyler Gisondo) knows how to navigate the paranormal underground side of the Interwebs, the Hammons rely on him to find answers for Sheila. He has an amazing dynamic with Joel, who is inherently the cool kid that would’ve shunned him in high school, and gets along spectacularly with Abby in a non-cliché way. In unexpected ways, Eric fits into the Hammond family more than he fits into his own. Even in the most extreme of circumstances, Eric’s loyalties fall with the zombie-ridden Hammonds.
Last but not least, Santa Clarita Diet‘s gem Abby.
For labeling purposes, she’s the classic sheltered, suburban white girl. In fact, Santa Clarita Diet goes as far as setting itself up to have a bratty kid react to her mother’s demise. Instead, Abby is the complete opposite of a caricature. She is constantly checking herself before wrecking herself, if you will, and isn’t afraid to show her growing and adjusting pains on screen. Also, this girl is a feminist icon. Wait until you see her in action.
In summary, Santa Clarita Diet is definitely worth your time. I can assure you that halfway through the second episode you will find yourself ungracefully binging the zombie rom com covered in potato chips and hugging a tub of ice cream. Santa Clarita Diet is simply one of those shows that instantly feel like home.
Should you watch it? Yes.
Santa Clarita Diet
- Laid-back attitude towards horror aspects
- Drew Barrymore gracing us with her presence again
- It's not extremely unique
- The writing can be basic, but it also goes with the type of show it is
- Not horror-y enough for those who wanted it to be