This is not a show for everyone. It’s gruesome and oh so bloody, and yet, it’s tremendously well done and engaging in all the right ways. The story of a housewife turned zombie, Santa Clarita Diet captured my attention right from its superb pilot and never let go.
I was never a fan of Drew Barrymore but she’s so so good here. Not only is her comedic timing on point, she manages to unearth the humanity underneath. Several times throughout the season, I found myself truly moved by her heartbreaking plight, and that’s no easy thing in a show that’s masquerading as a comedy. Moreover, her physicality matches the role perfectly. As the season progresses, the actress loses weight (this was a decision on Barrymore’s part to fit the character’s “human” diet), and it really suits the character’s metamorphosis. I also can’t but praise Timothy Olyphant who is a revelation as her husband Joel. I never saw Justified, but Olyphant is shockingly amazing. He’s likeable, and increasingly believable as he starts to adjust to the new reality of his zombie-fied wife. What a fantastic duo!
The rest of the cast is also top-notch. Liv Hewson plays Joel and Sheila’s daughter Abby, and she’s an absolute hoot with her ice-cold delivery and mature nuances. But the real standout is Portia de Rossi who knocks it out of the park with her hilarious performance as Dr. Cora Wolf, a scientist who specializes in the undead. Sadly the character only makes an appearance in the show’s final two episodes, but I sure hope she sticks around for season two. Hysterical stuff!
Barfs & Bits
– How great was Loki? I think he almost rivals Wolf as the season’s MVP. I particularly loved his budding feelings for Sheila (and the way he burst into the Hammond home).
– Wasn’t too fond of Eric at the beginning of the season, but he sure grew on me after a few episodes. Dare I say I’m kinda rooting for him and Abby now.
– Seriously this is one gory show. You just might lose your appetite (my brother sure did).
– How awesome is the opening title card? So simple and perfect.
– Mrs. Bakavic was laugh out loud funny. I wish she got more screen-time.
– Dan was fine as the Hammond’s neighbor, but I was never much of a fan of Ricardo Chavira on Desperate Housewives. It seemed like he was playing the same suspicious beats here.
– I would definitely pay good money to see a spinoff featuring Dr. Wolf bossing Abby and Eric around.
– Season two’s off to a great start: Sheila is in complete feral mode and chained in the basement, while Joel is on his way to an insane asylum. Uh oh.
Sheila: I swear, I did not have sex with Gary.
Joel: I believe you.
Sheila: But I did eat his balls. Well, one of them. Does that count as meeting you halfway?
Joel: What I meant was, it’d be good for everyone if, from now on, you only ate chicken or beef.
Sheila: Oh, yeah. Okay, totally, I agree.
Joel: And we need to return the Range Rover.
Sheila: Fine. I should’ve eaten both of his balls.
Joel: It’d be great if we didn’t talk about Gary’s balls anymore.
Sheila: Sure. They were tiny anyway. (He’s silent) What? I thought you’d like that.
Joel: Try not to swear at anybody.
Sheila: Fuck you, I’m not an idiot.
Sheila: Do you remember that dinner we had in Tuscany? On the terrace, outside the castle. I keep thinking about how good that waiter would taste right now.
Joel: We have to kill someone who won’t be missed. Someone without a family.
Joel: And someone bad who deserves it.
Sheila: Ooh, yeah, like who?
Joel: I don’t know. I guess the prototype would be a young, single Hitler.
Sheila: Oh, God. We’d be heroes.
Sheila: I am so glad this is not one of those diseases that dries your skin out.
Joel: Yeah, that’d be the worst.
Sheila: What if we kill that dentist who got that woman pregnant while she was having her wisdom teeth out?
Joel: I think that was just a Lifetime movie.
Sheila: Oh, yeah, those are fun. Hey, what about that shitty woman in my yoga class?
Joel: Doesn’t she have kids?
Sheila: Yeah, but they’re shitty, too. I’m sorry, it’s the hunger talking.
Joel: Man, where are all the young, single Hitlers?
Sheila: Speaking of Hitler, your mom called.
Sheila: I don’t know how much longer I can go without food.
Joel: We’ll get you the Italian pedophile. We’ll just take the risk.
Sheila: What if you find out he’s supporting his sister and you have to become besties?
Sheila: I feel bad that I wasted so much of Gary. We recycle, we compost, and yet I threw away 150 pounds of meat.
Joel: You ate much as you could, honey. Even Gary wouldn’t have expected you to finish him.
Joel: Afterward, to mark the occasion, I made you the only meal I knew how to cook. Spaghetti and meatballs.
Sheila: Ohh. This is so sweet. I wish I could eat it.
Joel: You can. It’s made from 100 percent free-range Dan.
Joel: The noodles are striated biceps. The meatballs are from honestly, I don’t know where they’re from. It was a horrible mess. Somewhere in the chest cavity.
Sheila: I can’t believe you did all this.
Joel: It wasn’t easy. I puked twice. Also, I think we’re gonna have to throw out the pasta maker. I left it to soak, but it’s not looking good.
Sheila: Did you try vinegar and baking soda? That’s how I got Gary out of my shoes.
Owner: You’ll find the zombie literature in our lifestyle section, next to the fertility crystals. If you hit witch balls, you’ve gone too far.
Joel: Isn’t that always the case.
Sheila: We’re nice and we’ve already killed three people. Can you imagine what an undead person who started out as a murderer is going to do?
Loki: We can match the perfect color and size, and I know a doctor who can clip off the toe and sew it on you. All he’ll want is some cocaine and a handwritten thank you note.
Abby: Are you baking cookies?
Sheila: No, it’s vanilla extract and essentials oils, baked in the oven at 350. It’s an old realtor trick. Makes the house smell like home.
Abby: Why not just bake cookies?
Sheila: Because they’re messy. And I happen to believe Americans get enough sugar in their diet.
Abby: But this is a lie.
Sheila: It’s not a lie. It’s a trick.
Abby: What’s the difference?
Sheila: One is a sin and one pays for your Spotify.
Joel: Honey, the more impulsive you are, the more likely we’ll get caught. And if we get caught, our lives together will be over, forever. Do you understand?
Sheila: Yes. I understand. I can’t be impulsive and kill the wrong person, like that bastard in there who didn’t have any family pictures and probably doesn’t have any friends, but did have sneakers with reflective strips in his office, so may run alone at night.
Joel: Thank you for hearing me.
Joel: What won’t we do?
Sheila: I don’t wear fur, and I won’t eat people’s buttholes.
Joel: Yeah, we’re great.
Sheila: They should name a street after us.
Joel: Sweetheart, we had sex in the bathroom at Target ’cause their logo turned you on.
Sheila: It’s obviously designed to look like a clitoris.
Sheila: I’m just feeling a little low energy. Maybe I need to eat people with more iron in their diet.
Joel: I’m really sorry, Eric. He kept pushing me and pushing me, and I just snapped. Hey, it could happen to Well, “anybody” is probably too broad of a category when talking about murdering someone with a shovel. I am not a murderer. Okay, technically, I am. Not even technically. Literally. But I refuse to be defined by the one time I murdered somebody. But enough about me. How are you holding up?
Eric: I’ve stopped sleeping. Every time I close my eyes, I see Dan calling to me.
Joel: Oh, Jesus, Eric. I am so sorry.
Eric: No, I’m just messing with you. Dan was an awful man and I’m glad he’s gone. Do you know how to fold a hoodie? Joel: Yeah. The secret is to not give a shit, ’cause I have to save my wife. Let’s go. (He stops) And I hang mine in the closet.
Rick: Two reasons people ask a cop to find somebody: wife-fucking, or because they found a wallet and they want to return it. Which is usually an excuse to find a wife-fucker.
Abby: Kanye says never to apologize for your creative choices.
Joel: I made you a smoothie from the last of that Porsche guy.
Sheila: I thought I finished him.
Joel: Nope. I found a bag of his face behind the ice cream.
Eric: Hey, thanks again for taking me to the convention. Dan never went to these with me. He said it should be called a para-not-normal convention. I told him that’s what paranormal already meant, then he accidentally spilled beer on my Xbox.
Balka: American women only good at one thing: boo-hoo about sex with boss.
Abby: Dr. Wolf, it’s an honor to have you stay with us. If you feel at all self-conscious about kicking me out of my room, it would be an equal honor to let you sleep on the fold-out couch in the garage.
Wolf: You’re trying to trick me. I hate that. It’s why I will not go to magic shows.
Wolf: Are you good at taking notes?
Wolf: Take this down, verbatim. I’d like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, no mayo. Then run to the Rite Aid, get me a bag of raw cashews, a bar of free-trade dark chocolate, and three postcards with the Hollywood sign on them. I have nieces.
Abby: Thank you for entrusting me with this super-exciting assignment.
Eric: Oh, Abby, wait. Could you get me a roast beef… on nothing, ’cause I respect you and don’t want anything.
Sheila: His plan B is to bash my brains in with a baseball bat.
Wolf: I wouldn’t even do that to the rats. If I have to put them down, I dim the lights, play Mozart, get them high on nitrous oxide, and then drive a tiny, mint-flavored toothpick into their brains.
Sheila: You see? I’ve known you, what, five minutes and already I’d rather have you kill me.
Wolf: Thank you.
Joel: How is that helping?
Wolf: I could ask the same thing about your girlish hysteria.
Wolf: Have you shown any signs of unprovoked aggression?
Sheila: Unprovoked? No. Everyone I killed had it coming.
Wolf: Good. Then it’s not too late. Now why don’t you put down the only known copy of that priceless book, ideally away from the chips and Safeway brand guacamole.
Santa Clarita Diet is a quirky and immensely addictive offering from Netflix. I can’t wait for season two.