SANTA CLARITA DIET

Net­flix’s zom­bie com­edy ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ has plenty of gags to gorge on, and its stars are de­li­ciously funny

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - LOUISE BRU­TON

“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.”

Knack­for­com­edy

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

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