Netflix tried to keep the plot of Santa Clarita Diet a secret for as long as possible. Now, the secret is out. This Drew Barrymore suburban family comedy is actually a suburban family zombie comedy. With the entire season out now, I decided to share some thoughts I had jotted down while watching each episode. Enjoy your binge!
1: ‘So Then a Bat or a Monkey’
Gross-Out Gags: Until the closing scene, I thought I’d only need to list the chuckle-worthy barf scene in towards the beginning. But Sheila chomping off a hand as the show’s first ‘jump scare’ was just the right amount of disturbing and humorous. Exactly what this show wants to be.
Funniest Moment: In reference to “zombie,” the neighbors’ son Eric states, “I don’t like that word. I think it’s inherently negative.” It was a sly nod to the show’s marketing technique. Also, when Joel catches his wife eating a penis in the closing moments – “We can make it work.”
Guest Star Watch: Nathan Fillion pops up as Sheila’s first victim. Andy Richter also makes a quick appearance, although it seems like his role as the real estate boss will be recurring.
Overall Thoughts: Not a great pilot, in fact it was pretty stale. Most of the jokes didn’t land. I will say it really picked up in the back half. Personally I hope this becomes more of a mystery show about how this happened to Sheila.
2: ‘We Can’t Kill People!’
Gross-Out Gags: There was a lot less gore than the pilot. Aside from the opening scene with the Hammonds burying Sheila’s victim, and the idea of her eating a chicken, episode two played it pretty safe.
Funniest Moment: Seems like one of the running jokes will be how nonchalantly the family reacts to this insane zombie situation. They’re taking it pretty well.
Guest Star Watch: Patton Oswalt was in for about a minute. That’s some wasted potential.
Overall Thoughts: Although this half-hour established the formula for the season going forward, nothing really happened. I enjoyed the subplot about the teens ditching school. Everything other than that was forgettable.
3: ‘We Can Kill People’
Gross-Out Gags: Stuffing a corpse into their freezer was pretty disgusting. And if you’ve been looking to see Drew Barrymore eat an arm, you’re in luck!
Funniest Moment: The whole idea of debating who to kill is hilarious, and it’s only enhanced by Joel bonding with the drug dealer he plans to murder.
Overall Thoughts: Ok, I’ll admit it – this show may turn out to be pretty fun. It seems like Abby is going to get even crazier in the coming episodes. Timothy Olyphant is quickly becoming my favorite part. His delivery is both overexaggerated and deadpan at the same time.
4: ‘The Farting Sex Tourist’
Gross-Out Gags: This installment begins with a montage of chiseling and blending the body of a victim.
Funniest Line: This episode was light on laughs (but heavy on plot).
Guest Star Watch: Thomas Lennon (currently starring as Felix on The Odd Couple) is the local school principal. He gets into a fight with the Hammonds and threatens to suspend Abby. It takes a lot of restraint for Sheila to not murder him.
Overall Thoughts: So, we finally have a mystery. Our first clues are those mysterious posters. This was the first occasion Santa Clarita Diet has set up it’s story for the long run.
5: ‘Man Eat Man’
Gross-Out Gags: The Hammonds fail to kill the criminal, Loki, their neighbor sent them to, and he escapes with just a small bite. Unfortunately, that’s how the zombie virus spreads, and the episode ends with him waking up in a motel room covered completely in vomit.
Guest Star Watch: Although Thomas Lennon briefly reappears as the principal, this time the focus is on his Serbian grandmother.
Overall Thoughts: At the halfway point, the writers have finally set up what seems to be an exciting back half of their freshman season. However, in five whole episodes, this show has yet to stand out. By no means is Santa Clarita Diet a bad show, but in the age of “peak TV,” I can’t recommend it. Hopefully that will change.
6: ‘Attention to Detail’
Gross-Out Gags: This episode forgoes blood and continues the more serialized approach to its continuing story.
Funniest Line: “That first feeling when I tear into the flesh…” “I got it honey.” Sheila and Joel’s exchange about how she gets turned on by the murders was painfully awkward. Later in the episode Dan deadpans, “I’m an LA Sheriff’s Deputy. [Planting evidence] is literally what we do.”
Guest Star Watch: Ryan Hansen of Veronica Mars fame guests as Sheila’s would-be victim. That was a close call.
Overall Thoughts: While still not amazing, the plot is keeping me intrigued. It’s a bit annoying Loki didn’t return in this episode, as they’re likely saving him for a big reveal.
7: ‘Strange or Just Inconsiderate?’
Gross-Out Gags: Sheila isn’t able to manage eating all of Dan, but we still get lots of disturbing shots of her trying. His decapitated torso in the bathtub was quite disturbing.
Funniest Moment: The Hammonds are able to skillfully improvise their way through many conversations in this episode, including one where Dan’s body is hidden mere feet away.
Guest Star Watch: Natalie Morales plays a colleague of Dan’s who assists in the neighborhood investigation of his “disappearance.”
Overall Thoughts: Am I missing something? This show is certainly entertaining, yet feels like there’s nothing to it. Other outlets have been giving it semi-positive, mostly average reviews, and I’d have to agree with that.
8: ‘How Much Vomit?’
Gross-Out Gags: Supergluing toes back on? Ew. Impaling someone with scissors? Gross. But Sheila’s eye hanging out? Cannot be unseen.
Funniest Line: So Loki is super chill now. Well, until he vows to kill Joel so Sheila can be his.
Overall Thoughts: This felt more like some filler before the final stretch. Not that’s a bad thing, although in these shortened Netflix seasons, every episode can really focus on the main ideas.
9: ‘The Book!’
Gross-Out Gags: “Press till you hear a pop,” Sheila tells Joel as he tries to adjust her eyeball back in her socket.
Funniest Line: I’m giving Lisa a shoutout here. She’s got some hilariously bad moments with her son Eric.
Guest Star Watch: Ravi Patel appears as a mysterious messenger at the paranormal convention.
Overall Thoughts: This episode explored different character pairings. A little late? Santa Clarita Diet is so painfully average.
10: ‘Baka, Bile and Baseball Bats’
Gross-Out Gags: Dr. Wolf shocks everyone when she stabs a wire through Sheila’s neck.
Funniest Line: “We stopped playing ‘Fuck, Marry, Kill’ when you said you wouldn’t marry or kill my brother!”
Guest Star Watch: Portia de Rossi has a huge role as Dr. Wolf, who thinks she can cure Sheila. The episode begins with a run-through of her backstory
Overall Thoughts: So… is there a secret 11th episode I don’t know about? This felt like a penultimate episode. Many things were set up in the first few minutes, and almost none were resolved. Looking at this season as a whole, I could see this show being a guilty pleasure. Screw it, I know I’ll be watching season two.