SANTA CLARITA DIET
Netflix’s zombie comedy ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ has plenty of gags to gorge on, and its stars are deliciously funny
“We’re not good at murder. I happen to think that that’s a good quality.”
When it comes to murdering evil humans to feed his undead wife Sheila, Joel Hammond is on a learning curve but he’s getting there. Time moves at a different pace on Netflix, so the 13 months that it took for the second season of zombie comedy Santa Clarita Diet to pick up where it left off felt like eight years in human years. In that time, we’ve binged on Stranger Things, Master of None, GLOW, The Sinner, The Good Place, The OA and 13 Reasons Why, so the struggles of the suburban realtors were but a distant dream.
The best thing about Santa Clarita Diet is watching Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant (who you’ll recognise as “that guy” from a lot of movies from the late 1990s and early 2000s; more on that later) grow into comedic roles that celebrate the weird and chew on the rinds of the mundane. You’ll find yourself chuckling along despite yourself and cheering them on as they kill an antique-dealing Nazi in a wheelchair. You know how it goes.
All the while, the Hammonds are trying to teach their teenage daughter Abby about morals and responsibilities – a hard thing to do when they keep body parts for snacks in the freezer and say things such as, “Abby, help your mother reattach her finger. It’s not that hard.”
Barrymore’s knack for comedy has been well established since The Wedding Singer – which is 20 years old this year, by the by – but her loyalty to Adam Sandler and his movies is a difficult thing to understand. You’re so much better than Sandler, Barrymore. We all are. Nonetheless, she’s Hollywood royalty and a general delight to behold but she’s absolutely found her groove in dark comedy. And Olyphant! Where the hell did he come from? Turns out he was under our nose the entire time. With a hairstyle to rival Wolverine, Olyphant is the bad guy in Go, the lunatic in Scream 2 and Carrie Bradshaw’s toy-boy fella in one episode of Sex and the City. Yes. That guy.
For penance for all of his bad-boy roles, Olyphant fought against them in HBO’s Deadwood as Sheriff Seth Bullock and FX’s Justified as Marshal Raylan Givens and it was all très sérieux. With the role of Joel, he’s like a modernised version of a world-weary but wonderful Hal from Malcolm in the Middle – if Hal assisted his wife as she feeds on gallbladders and eyelids as a treat but rejects thumbs because they taste like the heel of bread. He’s just like that. Like Barrymore, Olyphant is at his best when he loosens up a little and delves into the sillier side of things, and Santa Clarita Diet is all about the silly. Unlike The Walking Dead or even Shaun of the Dead, the zombie effects are slapstick to the fore and the blood is no more gruesome than a bottle of red poster paint found in any primary school class around the country. If the sight of blood makes you queasy, fear not, because this show is like a small dose of comedic Motilium.
The second season of Santa Clarita Diet has been a pleasant surprise, with guest stars like Community’s Joel McHale and Happy Endings’ Zachary Knighton popping up, as well as Mary Elizabeth Ellis aka The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, playing an absolute blinder. With both seasons ready to go on Netflix and plenty of gags to gorge on, you’d wonder why you didn’t try this diet out ages ago.
You’ll find yourself chuckling along despite yourself and cheering them on as they kill an antique-dealing Nazi in a wheelchair. You know how it goes