Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix – An Honest Review
In my home (me, my girlfriend, and two dogs), we're big fans of Netflix. The weekend before last, we saw a trailer for a show that was about to debut on the streaming service starring Drew Barrymore (whom I usually like) and Timothy Olyphant called "Santa Clarita Diet." The two star as a married couple with one teenage daughter whose lives take a turn for the weird, dark, and humorous when poor Sheila Hammond (Barrymore) gets sick and turns into a zombie! We were excited to watch it, which we did this weekend. (It came out on Friday 2/3/17.) Not to worry, I won't spoil any major plot points in this review.
I wanted to love "Santa Clarita Diet," but unfortunately I didn't. I LOVE Netflix shows like "Narcos," "Love," and "Stranger Things." "Santa Clarita Diet," in my opinion, is just OK. I think one of the big problems of the show was that it kind of suffered from an identity crisis, or at least was trying to be too many genres at once. I feel like the main genre it was trying to be was a comedy... But it wasn't funny enough. It tried to be dramatic, but it wasn't serious enough. It had elements of zombie horror, but it wasn't suspenseful, thrilling, or scary enough. It tried to do a lot, but wound up doing a lot poorly.
I found the acting to be painfully stiff, too. Timothy Olyphant especially took me out of scenes with over-exaggerations and performances that didn't match the tone of the scene. Even Hollywood mainstay Drew Barrymore lost me at points. She was decent at being the "normal housewife," but when things got too serious, dark, or heavy I found her portrayal to be goofy and unbelievable.
Whether you want to talk about performances or storylines, I found the children's presence to be highlights of the show. The two focal kids, Abby and Eric, were more believable and interesting in my opinion than their parental counterparts. Ricardo Chivara as Eric's stepfather Dan also missed with me. His character was one-dimensional, poorly portrayed, and did things nobody would do in real life even if in that supernatural situation.
I almost bailed on the show after the second episode. I thought the first episode was pretty bad, and the second one got a little better, but not enough to keep me. My girlfriend started making dinner as she was starting the third episode, and I decided to stay with it while she was cooking. We ate during the fourth episode, and I was too tired to go upstairs and start something different when the fifth episode started. At only ten 30-minute episodes, it's not a huge investment of time. And I'll be honest, once the second half of the season started, I was genuinely interested in what was happening and didn't want to stop. It is fair to say the show gets better if you stick with it.
The ending is a mess, too. The series does NOT have a satisfactory ending, or even an ending at all! The conclusion is sudden and senseless and in no way brings closure to the last five hours of your life. It will likely leave you furious at the show, I know it did with me.
If you can hang with it through the first half, you may enjoy the ride "Santa Clarita Diet" takes you on. I'm comfortable giving it a "one thumb up" review. A solid C. Obviously it couldn't have been that bad... I watched the entire first season! But I don't think the show lived up to its potential and it did not live up to Netflix's very standards in my opinion.