I was looking forward to it. I wanted to like it and believed it had a chance. After all, I always enjoy a good Drew Barrymore movie. But, alas, I just couldn’t do it. And I really tried! Unfortunately, the Netflix original dramedy Santa Clarita Diet failed to satisfy in almost every way.
The sad thing is the show should be funny! The premise is clever — an average family in suburban Los Angeles has their lives turned upside-down when the mom wakes up as a zombie one day. In an era where zombies are all the rage, you’d think this would be an easy sell. But even the valiant efforts of a top-notch cast, including Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, and Nathan Fillion (who guest stars in the first two episodes), can’t save it.
Like many similarly promising shows that fail, the problem here is the writing. It’s really terrible. In addition to a lot of meaningless banter, the first few episodes are peppered with enough profanity to make you think you’re watching a documentary on the proverbial sailor. Add countless overt and less-than-tastefully-done sexual references, graphic violence, flagrant drug-use and bathroom humor, and it’s difficult to find any redeeming qualities. With the exception of one thing: familial love.
Buried in the mire are some tender and touching moments between dad/mom and daughter and husband and wife. The husband’s commitment to his wife even as her condition takes over his life is touching and admirable. And the love that exists in the family is obvious, which is nice to see in a TV show.
Other than that, the show unnecessarily pushes the envelope in all directions, and it just doesn’t work. Santa Clarita Diet would be much better if it were simply toned way down. Subtlety is often the key to great entertainment.
If you’re a zombie fan looking for an alternative to The Walking Dead but prefer not being constantly offended, avoid this dead-on-arrival series. For the non-squeamish who still want to check it out, Season 1 is on Netflix now.