I’ll just ask the most obvious question. Why the hell haven’t you watched Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix yet? It’s a serious question because the show is simply awesome. The 10-episode zombie-family-comedy premiered on Netflix on February 3, 2017 and, like most Netflix originals, the whole season came out at once. Let’s all take a moment to praise the Netflix gods and their understanding of our need to binge-watch everything. Okay, moving on.
There are several reasons to watch this zombie family sitcom, but one major reason is simply that’s it’s a zombie family sitcom. How exactly does a show pull off being a sitcom about family struggles that deals with zombies? Well, my friends, you’ll clearly have to watch the show to find out. There are many reasons beyond the premises – like the all-star cast, the guest stars, and the deep themes – to watch this Netflix original. Also, when has Netflix failed us? This is the streaming service that brought us Making A Murderer and Stranger Things. Netflix consistently crushes it with entertaining, high-quality content and Santa Clarita Diet is no different. Trust in Netflix, y’all.
Below are 16 major reasons you need to go watch Santa Clarita Diet right now. I mean, you should probably just skip reading this article and go binge-watch the entire series right this minute, but if you want to read these reasons first that’s cool too.
16. At Its Heart, It’s About Family
The thing about zombie stories is that they’re never really about zombies. Yes, the action of slaying zombies upon zombies and the drama of the high stakes are certainly two selling points, but most zombie shows end up being about survival, humanity, and community. Zombies give us a way to think about deeper themes, all while watching people being eaten. Zombie shows are never just about eating flesh, though, and this is the same case with Santa Clarita Diet.
Santa Clarita Diet is actually more interesting in examining the inner-workings of a family dynamic rather than watching Drew Barrymore eat people, though that is a great part of the show. Both Sheila and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are realtors living in Santa Clarita, a suburb North of Los Angeles. They have a teenage daughter and seem to be a relatively functional family… on the surface. Underneath, Sheila and Joel struggle to deal with the decisions of their past that lead to their suburban life and their daughter struggles with the decisions of her future. Throughout the course of the show, the audience is shown all of the ways that they make their family work. As a family, they, of course, have their problems, but at the end of the day, they would do anything for each other. That’s what is at the center of this gory, funny show.
15. Timothy Olyphant Is Amazing (As Always)
Every time I watch Timothy Olyphant, I’m just like “Why isn’t this dude more famous?” He’s just so good. Fans of Justified obviously know how good Timothy Olyphant is, as he starred in the show’s six seasons. He’s been also been a staple in films for years and it seems he can do anything. He has starred in horror movies, like The Crazies, romantic comedies, like Catch and Release, and action films, like Live Free of Die Hard.
Timothy Olyphant’s acting chops are certainly on display in Santa Clarita Diet. As Sheila’s husband, Olyphant’s character struggles with the reality that his wife is a zombie, all while loving her. He also reaps the benefits of Sheila’s new-found sex drive, which he’s pretty excited about. In some of the most heartfelt scenes, Olyphant’s Joel wonders how he ended up a suburban dad when he had much bigger dreams. His subtle performance is a stand out on the show.
14. It’s A Satirical View Of Suburban Life
Speaking of Joel being a suburban dad, the entire show wonderfully mocks suburban life. Not only do they live in the suburbs, but with Sheila and Joel being realtors, they basically sell the American Dream in the form of a house in the suburbs. Their lives are wrapped up in both living in the suburbs and also in selling the suburbs to outsiders.
While there is nothing wrong with the suburbs, the show does a great job at highlighting the monotony of living there, as the women in the neighborhood long for their one night out drinking together. There is also the way the women exercise together and the way the men do yard work. It is a dark display of life in the suburbs, as everyone has a secret… and someone’s secret is that they are a zombie. It leaves you wondering how much anyone knows their neighbor, especially in the idealistic suburbs. It’s American Beauty, but with zombies.
13. You’ll Love The Guest Stars
Netflix always seems to get the best guest stars on their shows and that’s probably because everyone wants to work with Netflix nowadays. It’s even been announced that Brad Pitt and Will Smith are starring in upcoming Netflix films. If Will Smith and Brad Pitt are into working with Netflix, it’s safe to say that most of Hollywood is down with Netflix.
In Santa Clarita Diet, Portia de Rossi, who is no stranger to Netflix, shows up near the end of the season. Rossi plays a type-A scientist, trying to help Sheila with her zombie disease. She’s terrific and if you like Rossi, you’ll love her performance. Patton Oswalt, who you’ve seen in just about everything, and Derek Waters, who created Drunk History, also pop up in the course of the show. If you’re a fan of comedy, you’ll love the guest stars popping up throughout the course of the show.
12. You’ll Also Love The Teen Characters
It can be a challenge to write teen characters who aren’t, like, the worst. Teen characters can easily fall into played-out stereotypes, becoming flat clichés. Not to mention, actors playing teen characters are usually younger and haven’t developed their craft yet. Between the bad acting and poorly developed characters, teens can seem like assholes on television and in film. That, thankfully, isn’t the case with the teens on this show.
Liv Hewson plays Abby, Sheila and Joel’s daughter. With Juno-esque sharp wit, Abby’s good girl personality is slowly shattered with the fact that her mother is a zombie. She’s lost her drive, which is completely understandable with a zombie mother. She rebels, but somehow avoids falling into rebellious, bratty teen territory. Skyler Gisondo plays Eric, the nerdy next door neighbor who is the most knowledgeable about zombies and, therefore, a bit of a hero. Both Hewson and Gisondo give solid performances, keeping their characters feeling wonderfully real and not at all flat teenagers.
11. It’s So Easy To Binge-Watch
In this day and age, most of us should know that binge-watch comes in many shapes and sizes. If you want to binge-watch Game of Thrones, that’s a real commitment. Game of Thrones’ episodes are a full 60 minutes long and there has already been six seasons. If you try to binge-watch Game of Thrones, it’s going to take up a week of your life. Minimum.
Meanwhile, hour-long television shows on network and cable channels are easier to binge because they allot for commercials. Instead of being a full 60 minutes, they usually clock in at about 45 minutes, meaning you can watch five episodes of American Horror Story in the time it would take you to watch four episodes of Game of Thrones. It’s simple math and logistics can sometimes be important when it comes to binge-watching.
All this being said, Santa Clarita Diet is one of the easiest shows to binge-watch. It’s 30 minutes and the first season is just ten episodes. That’s, like, five hours. You could watch the whole series in one Sunday afternoon. Boom, so easy.
10. A New Take On The Zombie Genre
Zombies are so hot right now. To be honest, typing that felt weird because zombies are actually super gross and not hot at all. Even a Ryan Gosling zombie would be pretty gross. What I mean is, zombies are hot in terms of popularity. Zombies are everywhere, especially on our televisions. The Walking Dead is one of the most watched and most discussed shows on television. There is also AMC’s spin-off prequel, Fear the Walking Dead. Syfy’s Z Nation is another gritty take on the zombie apocalypse. The CW’s iZombie is yet another take on zombies, as a medical student becomes a zombie and then adjusts to her zombie life. Santa Clarita Diet can most closely be compared to iZombie, but it’s also much different.
While Santa Clarita Diet, too, examines the difficulty of being a zombie in a human’s world, it also showcases what a zombie mother would do to a family dynamic. Santa Clarita Diet is essentially about a zombie living in the suburbs and that is brand new territory. There is no Negan in this show and that’s refreshing.
9. It’s Awesomely Gross
Don’t be fooled by how light this comedy may seem. It is seriously gory. While The Walking Dead may show people being beaten to death with a barbed-wire wrapped bat, Santa Clarita Diet is, at times, even more disgusting than that. Since Drew Barrymore’s Sheila must eat people, as zombies do, the show really goes there. Sheila is often sucking down on red smoothie, which is red because it’s a human flesh smoothie. In fact, there’s quite a few scenes of Sheila making a human smoothie, during which she gleefully throws a hand into a blender. There’s also an episode in which Sheila attempts to eat a whole person in one night and it’s… guys, it’s gross.
For those viewers who enjoy gritty shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead of Dexter, this is the perfect comedy. You’ll be able to both laugh and cringe, as the gross-out gore is often accompanied by comedy regarding the reality of eating people.
8. It’s Genre Bending
The traditional genres are very straight forward – horror, comedy, romantic comedy, drama. While they may have ruled Hollywood for several years, it seems that more and more the entertainment industry is willing to bend genres. It is no longer necessary for something to be just a drama or just a comedy. Netflix, in particular, seems to love bending genres. Orange Is the New Black, one of Netflix’s longest running and most successful series, is somewhere between comedy and drama. In fact, it seems like no one can really figure out the particular genre of Orange Is the New Black, as it’s been nominated for awards under both drama and comedy.
Likewise, Santa Clarita Diet is both supernatural, horror, comedy, and family drama. You really can’t put it into just one category. That is what is so great about this show. It offers so much entertainment to it audience.
7. Mary Elizabeth Ellis From It’s Always Sunny
Anyone who watches It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia knows Mary Elizabeth Ellis as The Waitress, who has been a long-running love interest of Charlie Day’s character. While she is a consistently funny character on It’s Always Sunny, Ellis has failed to branch out from that sitcom, other than her role on the short-lived The Grinder. Side note, why did anyone think The Grinder was going to be a good show?
Thankfully, Santa Clarita Diet puts Ellis’ comedic chops to work. She plays Lisa Palmer, Sheila and Joel’s next door neighbor. Ellis’ Lisa is one of the more outrageous characters on the show. Yes, she’s even more outrageous than Sheila, who eats people. Lisa takes the stereotypes of the embarrassing mother and bored housewife to new hilarious levels.
6. Plenty Of Mystery
An element of mystery is often times what gets viewers to tune back into shows. There is nothing like mystery to propel viewers to watch the next episode. It’s basically why Lost had such a big audience – well, that and Josh Holloway‘s abs. It’s because of this mystery = audience algorithm that cliffhangers were invented, as it guaranteed audiences would tune into the next episode. Also, how much do cliffhangers suck?
While Santa Clarita Diet isn’t necessarily in cliffhanger territory, they do let mystery push the show forward. Sheila isn’t sure how she contacted the zombie virus and she isn’t sure how to cure it. With ancient clues and a scientist with some answers, the mystery draws in the audience, as the show seems to be so, so, so close to answering the zombie questions. Unlike shows about the zombie apocalypse, Santa Clarita Diet exists in a world of Google, doctors and, hopefully, answers.
5. It’s Oddly Realistic (For A Zombie Show)
In many zombie shows, everyone somehow seems to be an expert at killing zombies and doing random survival stuff. Like, how do they know how to shoot guns, make knots, and scale buildings? While that’s an annoying aspect in many zombie shows, Santa Clarita Diet stays refreshingly grounded. For a zombie show, Santa Clarita Diet is really realistic, which makes it even more fun to watch.
Upon realizing that Sheila definitely needs to eat people to live, Sheila and Joel plan on killing people… but how? They are so awful at killing people, both because they don’t know how to logistically do it and because they are emotionally hesitant about it. It doesn’t feel like Sheila and Joel are badass superheroes, as many zombie protagonists tend to be. While watching the show, it feels like an accurate portrayal of two people dealing with a zombie situation, and so the audience can relate to the protagonists.
4. Flips Perceptions Of Good And Bad
In this golden era of television, perceptions of “good” and “bad” are often being flipped. With anti-heroes presented as protagonists on popular shows such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, we are used to seeing layered characters that aren’t simply good or simply bad, but rather both good and bad. Likewise, Santa Clarita Diet flips perceptions of good and bad characters in several ways.
The most obvious flip in Santa Clarita Diet is that we root for a protagonists who eats people, so there’s that. You truly want Drew Barrymore’s Sheila to get away with killing and eating people. In fact, you may even feel weird about how much you root for the zombie character in this show. Furthermore, characters who are supposed to be “good”, like a cop, often have a darker, seedy side to them. It makes you reconsider stock characters who have traditional been the good guy or the bad guy.
3. An Interesting Examination Of Marriage
Like I said earlier, Santa Clarita Diet isn’t really about zombies. It’s really about family. The strong family bond is the central focus of the show, and that bond includes Sheila and Joel’s marriage. Many shows have displayed a marriage gone stale, but the marriage in Santa Clarita Diet is much more layered than simply being categorized as stale.
Sheila and Joel’s marriage definitely isn’t completely stale, but rather routine. Their sex life is lukewarm. They are completely different people than the young high school students they were when they fell in love. In an odd way, Sheila becoming a zombie is actually a good thing for their marriage, as it spices things up. Sheila becoming a zombie has changed the status quo for the better. The show presents a functional marriage in a way that isn’t cliché, but much more layered and interesting than we’re used to seeing.
2. Drew Barrymore, Duh
Who doesn’t love Drew Barrymore? Girlfriend has been famous for what feels like forever. She started her career in a little ol’ movie – you may have heard of it – called E.T. She went on to star in a lot of films in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, all while developing a drug addiction and going to rehab. Then, with one of the most iconic horror film scenes in history, 1996’s Scream successfully reintroduced Drew Barrymore to audiences. From there, Barrymore starred in romantic comedies like The Wedding Singer and Never Been Kissed, as well as blockbusters like Charlie’s Angels.
Since shining bright for the first few decades of her life, Barrymore has been away from the limelight for some time, which is a straight bummer for Barrymore fans. Santa Clarita Diet marks a return to Barrymore. Also, the 42-year-old actress looks just as good as ever and she’s still completely entertaining. Like I said, who doesn’t love Drew Barrymore?
1. It’s Refreshingly Original
The takeaway from this article should be how amazingly original Santa Clarita Diet is. There has never been a show like it before and there is absolutely nothing else like it on television right now. It is very much its own thing. I mean, it’s a family sitcom with zombie-level gore. Drew Barrymore drinks flesh smoothies! You will not find that on any other show on television right now, not even The Walking Dead.
Santa Clarita Diet features knock out performances and examines themes we can all relate to. It’s, perhaps, the most relatable zombie show ever created. It’s just so good, guys. And, like I said, it’s only ten 30-minute episodes. Literally five hours of your life. You’ve probably spent more time waiting in line at the DMV. It’s time for you to binge watch this feel-good zombie show. Maybe don’t do it while eating, though.