TV Review: Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet Season One (USA, 2017)

Now’s your chance to sit back, grab some food and drink, and start the diet. The Santa Clarita Diet!

Drew Barrymore & Timothy Olyphant

Just over a year ago I would have told you it was silly to even fathom a show’s entire season coming out in one day. It made no sense to me back then, how could they do it? What about weekly broadcasting rights? Advertisements between shows?

But then Netflix arrived and changed our entire outlook on how TV show formats should work. They should come in quick and fast, hit you hard in the face and leave a lasting impression. Santa Clarita Diet does just that.

Have a look at the all new trailer.

I will try and keep spoilers to a very minimum here, so here goes.

Marketing at it’s best!

Sheila (Drew Barrymore) goes to work alongside her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant), they work as partners for a realtor company, when showing clients through a new home Sheila abruptly throws up. A lot! All over the homes new carpet, followed by the entire bathroom, its ceilings and walls. She drops dead within the first few minutes of the show and only briefly. As Joel embraces her and starts to cry, Sheila awakens and scares the shit out of Joel who shouts ‘FUCK’. Joel’s face is one of surprise and uncertainty and immediately tries to take her to the emergency wing of the hospital.

They give up on waiting and head home, only to find that Sheila has no heartbeat. She keeps the same looks and hasn’t deteriorated like a dead body normally does. Sheila also feels no pain when she cuts herself, her blood is no longer red it’s a thick and now a black oozy substance and she can no longer eat cooked foods. For a little while she is quite content eating raw food and soon begins to feel impulses she hasn’t felt since she was younger such as.To Joel’s liking,  Sheila seems to have a revamped sex drive, however to Joel’s disliking, has the need to go out at night and party at a nightclub with women she doesn’t even like! Then comes the awesome and well-kept secret cameo from Nathan Fillion, who strolls into her life at the wrong moment. Let’s just say things don’t quite go according to his plan. Sheila soon finds out she can’t eat normal foods anymore and has the taste for something a little more human.

DInner time!

This all happens of course while trying to juggle their teenage daughter Abby, played by Aussie Liv Hewson (TV’s The Code), who immediately finds out what’s going on and to my surprise is quite okay with it, to begin with. They ask the help of their neighbour’s son Eric, played by Skyler Gisondo (Vacation, Night at the Museum 3). Eric is at first, quite shy and keeps to himself but has always had a thing for Abby (quite literally the girl next door). He loves his sci-fi, comics and movies and becomes quite helpful trying to find a cause and solution to what has actually happened to Sheila.

Trying to figure out the madness!

The show is filmed in the same format as most comedy drama’s such as Scrubs and verging on the crazier side of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (although hopefully later not completely losing the plot like Schmidt had in season two). Clarita Diet also definitely has the Desperate Housewives vibe within its small neighbourhood. With its colours of white picket fences and rich reds and of course, its almost cartoonish supporting characters. The sound design can be given some thumbs up, mostly headed by Ken Segal of New Girl fame, you will understand my meaning as you clearly hear Sheila munching down on someone, I am not sure what breaking bones and eating flesh sounds like, but I am damn sure this is close.

We have some awesome Directors on board for the show including Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer and Billy Madison’s Tamra Davis among others, which gives you a great indication of the comedy talent on board.

Barrymore’s new starring role alongside Justified’s Olyphant is infectious after the first five minutes. It’s a hilarious outlook on the upper-class suburban life, and how quick we are to love and trust our new family with their brutal honesty in the language they emit to one another. Clarita Diet doesn’t hold back on it either, especially on showing you how much its characters think of the entire ridiculous situation. It is silly, it never tries to being anything but and that’s okay, we don’t want every single undead genre to be moody and depressing. That is not to say it doesn’t have its drama as well and for the most part it’s done well. The idea of a wife or a mother that’s slowly dying in any type of scenario is one that is bound to pluck a few heart strings, but even when this is played out, it doesn’t quite hit the mark as much as I wanted it to. However, there’s no denying we came for the blood, guts and comedy.

Awesome spotlight on Liv Hewson & Skyler Gisondo

Like every great series, the show has its mysteries left wide open and feeding us tiny morsels every episode to make us want more. The scenarios of living in-between two law enforcement officers adds so much to the otherwise simplistic narrative and makes it more compelling than it has any right to be for this genre. Add all of that into keeping the family secret (needing to eat fresh human flesh) and where they must go next to retrieve such special dietary requirements. It really is a winning formula.

It may not be Netflix’s next grittiest award winning drama and even though it’s brutal, it’s definitely not scary. In fact, if it wasn’t for the gore and foul mouthed folks of Santa Clarita this could have passed as a teenage family drama. It’s not however and I think that is why it feels fresh. It doesn’t bend over backwards to compensate for the safety of free to air and network TV. I’m pretty certain we will be getting a season two at this point, but it all comes down to viewership. So, get on it people. With the first season being only ten episodes long and running for roughly 30 minutes each, I want more and I want it now. I am pretty dead sure you will too.

Season score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Santa Clarita Diet Airs on Netflix February 3rd