Netflix's new dark comedy #SantaClaritaDiet is getting major (and perhaps unexpected) buzz, thanks to the always delightful Drew Barrymore and the underrated Timothy Olyphant. The two leads star as a married couple who work as real estate agents in Santa Clarita, California.
When Sheila (Barrymore) vomits all over an open-house bathroom in Family Guy fashion, Joel finds her dead, lying in her own mess. She immediately awakens with no knowledge of her death — and a hunger for flesh, preferably human.
After discovering Sheila has been turned into a zombie, Joel decides to do whatever it takes to change her back, and a lot of blood and guts spill with hilarious results.
What's remarkable about Santa Clarita Diet is that, despite its gore — which can rival The Walking Dead for quantity of bloodletting — it always feels fun instead of gross.
The Violence Is Gruesome But Cartoonish
If you are squeamish about violence and cannibalism, Santa Clarita Diet makes sure you laugh it all off with a unique vision. The comedy revolves around a series of shenanigans while ignoring realistic details of crime, human decency and ethical behavior. The result is hilarious!
Despite great performances by the entire cast, the show wouldn’t have comically delivered without treating violence and death as slapstick satire. From Sheila eating a foot to her chopping an entire body into pieces, the violence is still there, but you can’t stop laughing at how lightheartedly the show presents it.
Instead of straight-up violence like in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, Santa Clarita Diet adds a funny bone into the mix without making it overly offensive.
Murder happens left and right, but Sheila and Joel treat it as inconvenient and exhausting instead of illegal and immoral. Santa Clarita Diet offers a surreal world — with murder, violence and death being the butt of joke. In the show, getting away with murder is as easy as riding a bike. Despite the comical way of portraying bloody acts, the show never feels cruel.
It also builds strong characters. For Sheila, becoming a flesh-eating zombie has brought her closer to her daughter — and Sheila's sex life with Joel has been more pleasurable than ever. For Joel, taking care of a wife who only eats human meat has been challenging, but proves how loyal and strong he is when it comes to saving a loving marriage.
Comedy Versus Tragedy
In The Walking Dead, the bleakness is real. It wants you to see what life would be like if a zombie apocalypse were to happen. We see good people becoming evil, and evil people becoming rulers in a society where might makes right.
The Walking Dead outright tells you it’s a tragedy; Santa Clarita Diet has a tragic premise (life must feast on other life), but it wants you to look on the bright side of things. The will to survive is strong in both shows; it's just depicted in different ways.
In real life, bad things happen, and we laugh to make ourselves feel better. Santa Clarita Diet is an alternative to the zombie genre's end-of-the-world concept, and that’s why the satire in Santa Clarita Diet outweighs its bleaker territory, despite being as violent as most serious shows. Laughter can make you stronger to fight the tragedy within.
Santa Clarita Diet is currently on Netflix, streaming all 10 episodes. Have you watched it? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below!