Drew Barrymore (ex-Charlie’s angel) is a realtor (real estate agent) showing prospective buyers around a house. Entering the bathroom, she starts throwing up (enough to kill a person). When she wakes up, she has a curious appetite for flesh. Her womanising boss tries to force his attentions upon her that evening, so she eats him…
So goes the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet. It’s grossly funny. At first, there are only upsides to Drew being a suburban zombie: she’s immensely strong, she is liberated (cos the undead are governed by the id and primal urges only), she still looks normal and she has a supportive husband (played wonderfully by Timothy Olyphant, the guy who was the sheriff in Deadwood). But then her hunger for flesh starts getting them into trouble, her behaviour in public is often inappropriate (to say the least) and her toe drops off in the bath. They need to find a cure before it’s too late!
What really works about this show is that each episode is only half an hour, meaning the plot has to be tight, it’s high tempo and the humour needs to be as sharp as it is zany. At the same time, it’s a social satire. Drew and her husband get into domestic role reversal, their daughter is often more responsible than they are, and Drew’s ambitious women friends are made to look drab and uninspiring.
Santa Clarita Diet definitely offers something new with regard to the zombie genre, therefore. It’s very self-aware (sending up geek culture as much as it celebrates it), always surprising and often shocking. The situations the family gets itself into are as humorous as they are credible – making everything surreal/hyperreal. And good surrealist comedy is sometimes hard to come by. It scores 8.5 out of 10 from me, and I’ll definitely be watching series two when it’s released.