Netflix is ramping up, rather than slowing down, its productions of original programs, and many of the newest shows are proving to be excellent. Hot on the heels of critically acclaimed show The Crown, about the early days of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, comes the new comedy/horror hybrid Santa Clarita Diet, starring Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore. This show has a lot to recommend, and we urge our loyal readers to check it out. To help convince you, we’ve come up with this list of the 10 reasons why you should watch the Netflix original, Santa Clarita Diet.
10. It’s a Fresh Take on the Zombie Genre
We love the zombie genre as much as the next person, but it has been a little overdone lately. And while we appreciate the seriousness with which shows such as The Walking Dead take the subject matter, we also enjoy some humor mixed in with zombie culture. After all, comedy has always mixed well with zombies – just look at Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. We could argue that zombies are more suited to a combination of comedy and humor than any other subgenre of horror. There have certainly been more comedy pieces made about zombies than werewolves, for example. And Santa Clarita Diet gets it right with its mix of comedy, horror, and frights. The end result is that the show feels like a fresh take on the zombie genre.
9. It Doesn’t Skimp on the Gore
Like True Blood and The Walking Dead before it, Santa Clarita Diet doesn’t hold back on the gore. There’s plenty of blood and guts mixed in with the humor. And really, this is what you want in a legitimate show about zombies. Hardcore fans of the genre will not be disappointed with Santa Clarita Diet. The show, in no way, feels lightweight or that it’s merely a situation comedy featuring zombies that are not threatening. People wanting a true zombie fix can get it from Santa Clarita Diet. In fact, the few criticisms leveled at the TV show to date have involved the gore factor. Some reviewers have complained that they find the blood and guts to be too much for them to handle. From our perspective, the show strikes the right balance here too. It is a zombie program, after all.
8. It’s a Comeback for Drew Barrymore
Really, who doesn’t love Drew Barrymore? Whether you fell in love with her as the little girl in E.T.: The Extraterrestrial or have a soft spot for the Charlie’s Angels movies, it’s pretty hard not to appreciate Drew Barrymore. Can you even remember a time when she wasn’t around? Yet strangely, Barrymore’s career has suffered a bit of a downturn in recent years. Since 2009, she has starred in only a few movies, the biggest one being Blended alongside Adam Sandler. Her most frequent acting work has been playing dimwitted Jillian Russell, Brian’s girlfriend on Family Guy. While she’s gotten into producing over the past decade, her star has dimmed in Hollywood and she is no longer an “It Girl” by Tinseltown standards. Fortunately, starring in (and executive producing) Santa Clarita Diet is giving her a comeback, and we think it couldn’t happen soon enough. The new show has people talking about Barrymore again, and that’s a good thing.
7. It Mercilessly Skewers the Suburbs
One of the great things about Santa Clarita Diet is that much of the humor is derived from mercilessly skewering the suburbs and suburban life. Juxtaposing living as a zombie in the seemingly idyllic world of suburbia makes for some great laughs. The fact that Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore’s characters are real estate agents happily selling the American Dream adds yet another layer of fun to the show. Plus, mixing the blood and guts with suburban baseball games, power walking, trips to the mall, and juice bars gives the show an oddball feel to it that is refreshing. In many ways, Santa Clarita Diet feels like a series that could only air on a streaming service such as Netflix.
6. Great Guest Stars
From Patton Oswalt (King of Queens) and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) to Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development), Santa Clarita Diet has served up several great guest stars who are super funny and add a lot to the show. It’s been proven time and again, but solid guest stars can really improve a TV show and Santa Clarita Diet is a great example of this maxim. Going forward, we hope the program continues to line-up funny and talented actors to guest star on the show – whether as neighbors, co-workers, doctors, or fellow zombies. The better the guest stars, the better this program will be in the long run. To date, the casting choices has been stellar.
5. Timothy Olyphant Has Never Been Better
Timothy Olyphant has been in a number of great and successful TV shows over the years – namely Deadwood and Justified. He’s also guest starred in several episodes of both The Office (U.S. version) and Damages. Yet despite his impressive pedigree on the small screen, we would argue that Santa Clarita Diet is his best work to date. Olyphant is genuinely hilarious and likable as a suburban dad and real estate agent who is coming to terms with the fact that his wife (Barrymore) is now one of the undead. He strikes just the right tone throughout the show and never breaks character – even in the most ridiculous of situations. Santa Clarita Diet also shows that Olyphant can handle humor and is more than a dramatic actor, much as he has been portrayed on past TV shows. In movies, Olyphant has mostly starred in subpar action films such as Hitman and I Am Number Four. Those seem like a bit of a waste of his true talent, as Santa Clarita Diet proves that Olyphant is adept at comedy too.
4. It’s Perfectly Binge Worthy
Each episode of Santa Clarita Diet is only 30 minutes long, which makes it perfect for streaming on Netflix. At only a half hour per episode, it is fairly easy to binge through the 10 episode first season in a single afternoon or two. Watching Santa Clarita Diet doesn’t feel like a huge time commitment, like some other original Netflix programs such as The Crown or Bloodline. You can whip through the first season of Santa Clarita Diet in just five hours, which is a lot less than the 12+ hours plus demanded of some other Netflix originals. This half hour format fits with the program’s offbeat and quirky vibe, and leaves viewers wanting another hit right away. Being shorter seems to make this program even more addictive… if that makes sense?
3. The Writing is Top Notch
What really makes Santa Clarita Diet standout, and apart from other shows, is the writing. The performances and production values are great, but the writing on the show is truly top notch. It is the writing, after all, that strikes the right tone and balance between comedy and horror. Santa Clarita Diet was created and largely written by Victor Fresco, who previously worked on other quirky TV shows such as My Name Is Earl, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Better Off Ted. Fresco’s comedy powers are in full use with Santa Clarita Diet and his keen writing keeps the tone of the show in the sweet spot. We doubt you’ll see better writing on television this year.
2. It’s Genuinely Funny
When it comes right down to it, the bottom line on Santa Clarita Diet is that the show is genuinely funny. Yes, it’s also gory and has tons of blood. But the underlying tone throughout is one of humor and comedy. People who like to laugh and appreciate a dark comedy will not be disappointed by Santa Clarita Diet. Each time you squirm watching this program, you’ll also find yourself giggling or outright laughing. The wacky and offbeat tone is just right and keeps the show from becoming too dark and disgusting. Barrymore has never been funnier and, as already mentioned, Olyphant is a revelation in the world of comedy. We dare you to try and not laugh.
1. There’s Nothing Else Quite Like It
Santa Clarita Diet may be the most original of Netflix’s original programs. By this, we mean that there really isn’t another show like it on TV right now. The Marvel original programs on Netflix, such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones, are great, but there are other superhero shows to be found on TV today. Same goes with historical dramas, family dramas, and even shows about life in prison. A half hour comedy about a suburban mom who happens to be a zombie? Not so much. While there are other shows on TV about zombies– and good shows at that — there is no zombie show that so skillfully handles comedy and horror like Santa Clarita Diet. While copycat shows are sure to spring up in the not too distant future, right now this series stands alone as a truly original TV show. We think it is destined to go down as a cult classic. But don’t take out word for it. Check out Santa Clarita Diet yourselves.