A fresh take on the worn-out zombie story

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Every once in awhile, a TV series comes around that really stands out. In a world of cop shows, sitcoms, murder mysteries and dramas, “Santa Clarita Diet” truly stands out by embracing and mocking cliches set in place by these genres.

“Santa Clarita Diet” is a new Netflix original show about a small family with a dark secret. Created by Victor Fresco, it stars Drew Barrymore as Sheila Hammond and Timothy Olyphant as Joel Hammond, two real estate agents living a comfortable life with their teenage daughter, Abby. One day while showing a house to an eager couple, Sheila quite suddenly and violently projectile vomits across the floor of the master bedroom while they are showing the couple the house. Taken aback, the couple leaves the room with Joel as Sheila retreats to the restroom to tend to her unexpected predicament. Amidst the remainder of the house tour, Sheila’s heaving and gagging is too much to handle for the couple and they leave. Joel rushes upstairs to check on his wife. To his horror, he finds the walls and floors of the bathroom adorned with vomit. Absolutely every surface is caked with it, and Sheila is laying on the floor unconscious. Joel begins to break down just as Sheila pipes back up, feeling refreshed and better than ever. 

As time goes on, Sheila acts stranger and stranger, living her routine life without a care in the world. In fact, she’s upbeat and spunkier than ever. There’s just one catch: she’s dead. The family discovers that Sheila has no heartbeat and she doesn’t bleed. But other than that, she’s fine. The worried family turns manic when a few days after her incident, she chows down on a coworker. Yes, Drew Barrymore plays a full blown cannibal/zombie in this show. When Joel discovers the scene, the couple begins their spiral out of control to maintain their family dynamic while trying to find a cure for Sheila’s condition.

This show is hilarious. From the pilot to the cliffhanger season finale, the show will split your sides with every scene. The characters are written perfectly, with witty quips flying by you in a “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Arrested Development” style. The tone is very upbeat and silly, which strangely blends together quite well with the gruesome nature of the show. Whimsical melodies often find themselves awkwardly pacing scenes of Sheila putting her victims’ limbs through a blender or amidst Joel talking himself into murdering a potential meal for his wife. 

The Hammonds always find themselves in the craziest situations imaginable, due in part to the fact they live in between two cops who constantly give them a hard time. The plot stays simple while introducing a litany of obstacles as the family tries to cure Sheila. These obstacles range from recovering evidence from a murder site, family issues, finding more information about Sheila’s disease and of course, looking for Sheila’s next meal.

Instead of embracing one genre, “Santa Clarita Diet” picks and chooses themes from all over the entertainment spectrum, resulting a delightful smorgasbord of tropes that’s easy to binge and hard to turn off. It’s a great show to watch and is wonderfully packaged in 20ish minute episodes which is a nice change from the hour long episodes that can seem daunting to start. Go down the rabbit hole with the Hammonds, Fresco’s quirky comedy won’t disappoint.