‘Santa Clarita Diet’ Reviews: Critics Agree It’s A Surprise Hit [Spoilers]

The Santa Clarita Diet reviews are in, and many critics love it. Stars Drew Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels, Donnie Darko) and Timothy Olyphant (Hitman, Live Free or Die Hard) team up in an ironically dark comedy which despite having a horrific premise, looks like the cast of Fuller House could walk in at any moment.

The story revolves around real estate brokers Sheila and Joel Hammond, who are initially struggling to sell a home. When one fateful sale goes almost literally belly-up (Sheila vomits right in front of the client, and then proceeds to do so even more in the bathroom), nobody really knows why. It isn’t until later, when Sheila reveals she can’t feel her heartbeat, that the problem hits them hard.

Sheila had unknowingly become the walking dead, but to anyone outside the family, she seemed perfectly normal. Of course, the illusion is shattered the instant someone makes her angry, as she leaps on him and bites his neck, rending flesh.

The Hammonds were then set on a journey to become serial killers by necessity in order to sate Sheila’s newfound hunger since she couldn’t stand normal food anymore. She masked it well after learning to make flesh smoothies.

'Donnie Darko' was one of Drew Barrymore's more serious roles.
‘Donnie Darko’ was one of Drew Barrymore’s more serious roles. [Image by Pandora Cinema/Newmarket Films]

Drew Barrymore may be a shocking choice to play a feral zombie, but she had shown her real acting skills previously in Donnie Darko, Never Been Kissed, and her childhood role in Firestarter. Timothy Olyphant’s acting career has been all over the place, but according to the Santa Clarita Diet reviews, he seems to have found his proverbial groove.

It’s probably worth noting that Patton Oswalt has a cameo role early in the season, and then we never see him again. It’s probably for the best since his roles often aren’t good except for Agents of SHEILD and his comedy specials.

The Tartan says that Drew’s ads for the show were almost a perfect indication of what was coming. It starts out sweet and innocent, and then things go south in a heartbeat (or lack of one?). She transforms from a reserved and constantly worried suburban housewife into a confident zombie with a disturbing craving for living flesh and sex. At first, her husband is thrilled about the latter, but you have to see the season’s last few episodes to discover what happened eventually.

The Tartan states that it’s refreshing to see a take on the undead which doesn’t go the apocalyptic route while staying serious about its subject matter. Neither a grizzled Norman Reedus or a leather-clad Milla Jovovich would look right in this setting. Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee from Zombieland might work, though.

The world of 'Zombieland' appears to be similar in tone to 'Santa Clarita Diet.'
The world of ‘Zombieland’ appears to be similar in tone to ‘Santa Clarita Diet.’ [Image by Columbia Pictures]

The New York Times says that while enjoyable, The Santa Clarita Diet appears to be trying too hard to push the gore in the beginning, and turns a little too serious toward the end. The middle seems like a good transition period in which the daughter is angry about her parents keeping Mom’s death a secret (she found the freezer with a half-eaten corpse in it), and they have to find a way to kill people who Sheila doesn’t feel guilty about eating.

It’s around the last third of the series that the mystery and seriousness sets in a little more firmly, although the humor remains dark and never seems forced.

Salon says that Portia de Rossi of Arrested Development, who also gained plenty of media spotlight for her troubled relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, was what saved the show in the end. Her deadpan take on a scientist who may or may not be able to “cure” Sheila, and Eric Bemis’ (Skyler Gisonto) apparent crush on her gave the show an extra dimension of fun.

What did you think of the Santa Clarita Diet?

[Featured Image by Netflix]