Santa Clarita Diet – Initial Thoughts/Review

This weekend, I’ve been checking out the new Netflix original series Santa Clarita Diet starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant.  The basic premise of the show is a California real estate couple, played by Barrymore and Olyphant, have a typical suburban life with a teenage daughter and nosey neighbors.  One day Sheila (Barrymore) gets unbelievably sick during an open house and turns into a zombie (of sorts).  Because Sheila and Joel (Olyphant) are such a loving couple, they try to make the best of their new life style as they murder and store bodies so Sheila can feast on the their fresh corpses. As expected, shenanigans ensue.

And I gotta admit, as silly as the premise is, the show is really entertaining.  I am only halfway through the series, and I’m not too sure why this show works as well as it does.  It takes a premise of bad things happening to a Californian suburb, which has been done before (i.e. Weeds), and is about a family struggling to cope with new situations (see half of every sitcom ever made), that is white and affluent and successful (see most sitcoms ever made).  The show isn’t particularly deep and doesn’t have an overall message, some of the jokes and acting are over-the-top, and many of the supporting characters (so far, again I’ve only seen the first five episodes) aren’t fully developed.

By those standards, you’d imagine that I’d think this show is only okay.  It’s overly lit, not well shot, and the blood and gore could be used to better comedic effect.  Often the gore seems to exist just to be schlocky and shocking, but it isn’t always that humorous.  But I’ve been laughing a lot over the two hours I’ve been watching the show.  I think the main reason why the show works so well is due to the two leads.

Barrymore and Olyphant are delightful as the high school sweethearts turned real estate agents Sheila and Joel.  They have great chemistry and play off each other well.  Joel is a little stoned, and can overreact to things, while Sheila, now a member of the undead, is all id and wants to do anything and everything.  When the two argue like a normal couple about how to kill a victim, it’s really funny thanks to the two main performances.  I think I will always laugh at Barrymore surprise attacking a victim and biting a chunk out of their throat while Olyphant stands nearby wearing a parka looking shocked and confused.  It’s kinda delightful.

Netflix series, particularly their half hour comedy series can be great (Bojack Horseman for the win) or look incredibly stupid that I’ll never watch (aka Ashton Kutcher in The Ranch).  But Santa Clarita Diet, although not the best half hour comedy on the air today, is still entertaining and surprisingly funny.  I checked out this show because I like Drew Barrymore as an actress and I’ve been a fan of Olyphant ever since Justified, one of the best television shows of the past decade.  And these two actors do not dissapoint.  Their delivery and silliness is infectious.  If you’re a fan of silly, off-beat comedies that aren’t afraid to be gross without over relying on low-brow humor (looking at you crappy CBS “sitcoms”), then Santa Clarita Diet might be the show for you.

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