The second season of this American comedy-horror show has just landed on Netflix. It’s another ten half-hour episodes: the tempo is just as helter-skelter, the plot is just as madcap and the jokes are just as rapid-fire as the first season. In this new season, our zombie-mum is still trying to keep her ‘condition’ a secret from friends and others, while still ‘procuring’ dead bodies to eat – this time round, Sheila (played excellently by Drew Barrymore) decides that it’s ethically okay to eat a group of local nazis (although she’s not so sure about the one in a wheelchair). As before, she is aided by her emotionally-wraught but loving husband (the inspired Timothy Olyphant – who knew he could do comedy too?) and her vaguely-disgusted but strangely-fascinated daughter.
Yet what’s so good about this show is that the second season isn’t just a retread of the first. It builds the characters even more, there are revelations aplenty and the ‘format’ is thrown all up in the air.
None of it is brainless (no pun intended) or throwaway stuff either. There is an abundance of social comment (often about the ironies, tragedies and hypocrisies of life in modern suburbia) and thought-provoking (while still hilarious) subversions of institutions like the police and religion.
This show has teeth… and legs. Most body parts in fact. Although they are sometimes put together differently from the norm. Like a zombie that’s had its limbs fall off and reattached imperfectly. It is scary, funny and very very dark. I love it. It’s a 9 out of 10 from me!
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.