The Zombie Apocalypse is a Family Affair in Santa Clarita Diet
Oh, Netflix, how you love to create short seasons of incredible shows that must be binge watched and reviewed.
Season 3 of Santa Clarita Diet is available to stream on Netflix now and it's everything we've been waiting for since the season 2 finale last year. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) continue to get themselves in way over their heads in a series of murders, lies, and deceptive schemes that continue to spiral wildly out of control. Add to this the well intentioned eco-terrorism of their daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) and the obsessive religious devotion of a cop (Natalie Morales) and a severed head (Alan Tudyk) and it's most definitely a quirky ensemble cast in a comedy of errors about an undead woman trying to keep her home life as normal as possible as she cannibalizes her way through the suburbs.
Each episode of Santa Clarita Diet is a delightful series of Rube Goldbergian plot machinations where something so seemingly innocuous and banal can go completely off the rails without any real effort at all. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, or so my mother told me as a child, and Sheila and Joel are finding that out the hard way with every last thing they do. A woman turned into a cannibalistic zombie by some bad clams has suddenly become everything she ever dreamed of being... minus, of course the whole cannibalism thing I just mentioned. And with every step she takes towards becoming a more fully realized and happy person, the world creeps a little closer to an unintentional apocalypse.
With season 3 we learn a lot more about the ancient, sacred order of the Knights of Serbia, a medievally founded band of warriors who have spread across the globe with the sworn task of protecting humanity from the undead. Fortunately for the plot of the series, the Knights of Serbia are really bad at what they do. We also see a Serbian army doctor who is part of a separate, more shadowy government organization devoted to capturing, studying, and utilizing the undead for what can only be assumed to be nefarious purposes. All of this plus the ongoing drama of husband and wife realty duos vying for power in the competitive world of the Southern California suburban housing market.
The Santa Clarita Diet is wonderfully predictable the way you'd expect any good sitcom to be. At times the ideas espoused by the show are so outlandishly ridiculous and far out that you just have to look at the person next to you and ask "Can they really be that stupid?" The series blends together some of the best traits of horror and comedy with its dark mythology, gallons of blood, and slapstick comedy antics. Oh, and Mister Ball-Legs, the peach pit/anus monster on spider legs that is connected to every last case of zombification.
Alan Tudyk takes over for Nathan Fillion as Gary, the talking head of Sheila's very first meal-victim. It works so well as the couple forgot to inject Gary with the serum that stops the decay process and so the pallid, pretty boy features have now melted away into something outlandishly horrible. As a fan of both Tudyk and Fillion, it's scary how easily the two can be interchanged and yet it feels so right.
A Tale of Two Garys; Nathan Fillion (left) and Alan Tudyk (right) in Santa Clarita Diet.
If you're looking for a non-stop roller coaster of violence, gore, and high brow comedy then you've come to the wrong place. This is genuinely the sort of sitcom, minus the gratuitous and wonderfully diverse use of the word "fuck" that could have been a hit at any time in the last fifty years of television. The stories are heartfelt, well written, and work well with the overarching narrative being laid out for viewers. There are plenty of shocking, surprising moments as well as plenty more that will have you holding your breath but, all-in-all, it's an incredibly simple, fun half hour of zombie fueled comedy that you won't find anywhere else.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.