Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1
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Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1

A recent scientific study determined that a human body is insufficient as a source of providing regular sustenance. Most game animals are a superior source of required nutrients. The conclusion is that historical accounts concerning cannibalism were for religious purposes or social ceremonies such as humiliating a defeated enemy and gaining their power by ingesting them. The article did omit the most prevalent use of cannibalism in the modern world. It is an excellent source of horror ideal for television and film. Consuming the flesh of another human being is a taboo that extends beyond time and cultural differences. Among the most recent uses of cannibalism is a half-hour series produced by Netflix, ‘Santa Clarita Die.' Technically it would have to be considered a situational comedy although considering the primary subject matter and the manner in which it is presented are categorized best as exceedingly dark humor. From a personal perspective Dark comedy has always been among my favorite genres. This is mostly because of the difficulty entailed in properly crafting the story and its execution, the creator of the series, Victor Fresco, is no stranger to the sitcom format albeit with only a couple of exceptions most of his work only lasted one, perhaps two seasons. His production talents fall behind such footnotes in television history as ‘New Monkeys,' ‘Man up’ or ‘Life on a Stick.' He achieved a more successful as part of the production team for ‘Mad about you’ and ‘My Name is Earl.' He was also behind one of my personal favorites, ‘Better off Ted’, which was a surreal and decidedly dark exploration of corporate research. One major factor that held this man back from reaching his creative potential was undoubtedly the standards and practice department present in every major traditional broadcast television network. Enforcing the standards set by the FCC to ensure quality, wholesome entertainment. Many consider it extremely fortunate that the mandate of the FCC is limited only to content broadcasted over the air ways. It has no jurisdiction over such sources as cable television and the new means of home delivery for entertainment, streaming video over the Internet. Quickly becoming one of the most powerful sources of this new type of service is Netflix was continuing to accumulate a significant number of well-produced, excellent TV shows and movies.

Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and Sheila (Drew Barrymore) Hammond live in Santa Clarita, a middle-class, working-class suburb in California. Also living with them is their teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson), a remarkably bright and perceptive young woman the Hammonds seem to have an ideal life working together as partners in a local real estate firm. At the start of the series belied nearly ideal life with the possible exception of their neighbors. Police officers live on either side of the Hammonds, Dan Palmer (Ricardo Chavira), a deputy sheriff, and on the other hand Rick (Richard T. Jones). Joel is friends with Rick usually hanging out and getting high together on marijuana. Joel’s relationship with Dan was overly presumptive and exceptionally annoying. He was always nitpicking about the condition of the lawn placement of trash. Suburban wife agreed with the Hammonds until what seem like just another routine morning turn horribly awry. While showing the house to prospective clients, Sheila begins to gag. First, she brings up a strange yellow liquid followed by something that looks very much like a cat’s hairball could be an organ of some sort. Concerned about the symptoms they go to the hospital unrolling to endure the long wait they decide to go back home. One unexpected and not entirely unpleasant side effect is that Sheila’s libido has been turned up to 11. They wind up consulting with a classmate of Abby, Eric (Skyler Gisondo), the son of Dan and his wife, Lisa (Mary Elizabeth Ellis). They discover that Sheila’s blood is exceptionally thick and she no longer has a heartbeat. It is Eric who determines that Sheila is now undead, the type of zombie. As such she is driven entirely by her Id, the most primitive impulses in our minds. Among the most basic of these impulses is to eat. To the dismay of Sheila and Joel, the only food that Sheila can tolerate is the flesh of a recently dead human being. Sheila’s first meal comes in the form of coworker Gary West (Nathan Fillion); try to initiate an affair with Sheila. He winds up dead; Sheila gets her first ‘long pork’ meal. Afterwards, Joel was understandably distraught and confused but brings himself to help his wife does most of the body. Unfortunately, Dan sees him in the middle of the night cleaning up the crime scene.

Drew Barrymore is no stranger to such unusual roles as this, but it was unexpected to see Timothy Olyphant in such a darkly comic role. His usual forte is portraying very strong willed and dangerous men. In both ‘Deadwood’ and ‘Justified,' the character he undertook was a law man ruled by a vigorously enforced personal code of conduct. To see him trying to manage such unreasonable circumstances trying to cope with the help of a bond and a bag of weed is quite unusual for fans of his career. One thing he does in part to Joel is especially touching, his deep-seated love for his wife. Initially, he agrees to help her cover-up the process of getting the nutrition, but soon he realizes that he is capable of taking a life himself. For a dark comedy to be successful, there have to be some means for the audience to form solid on with the characters. Since cannibalism is so far apart from anyone’s experience, the show succeeds because of its concentration on character development. Zombie shows and movies are exceptionally popular right now one thing usually in common; zombies are monsters. Sharing a plot device from another dark comedy, ‘iZombie’’, Sheila is undead, craving human flesh but she remains a thoroughly likable and sympathetic character. Thanks for their brilliant idea of placing a large freezer in the storage unit they can limit the number of kills required. Thankfully, closing flesh is as acceptable as fresh and satisfying Sheila’s nutritional needs. Just as the visit the storage unit, pack off a part of the body, defrost and enjoy. After buying an industrial strength blender, Sheila becomes known in the neighborhood for always drinking her special smoothies.

There’s a touch of mystery infused into the series as Joel and Sheila try their best to determine what happened and, more importantly, how to reverse the effects. They find some clues and some folk art from Eastern Europe. This introduces a side quest to find somebody who can read the inscriptions on the pictures that apparently depict someone going through the same initial changes that Sheila endured. In keeping with the traditional formula or sitcom, the Hammond circumstances continue increasing complexity. Dan finds a finger to formally belong to Gary and realizing that Joel must’ve murdered him blackmails him to get rid of some of the more persistent criminals among Dan’s caseload. The first target is a heinous criminal, Loki Hayes (Deobia Oparei). He manages to escape the dinner plans involving him but in the melee may have been bitten by Sheila. Another plot thread woven throughout this first season is Sheila notices that one of her toes is a formula, she’s afraid that a postmortem deterioration may have begun.

A more interesting character arcs is that of Abby. He was a reasonably good student, well behaved albeit with a significant streak of sarcasm. After realizing that her mother and father are now killing people so that mom can eat them, she feels that they no longer have a right to stop the use of inappropriate language or skipping school. While the parents are confined in a web of lies and deception, Abby and Eric are typically found acting out in a rather unconventional fashion. Eric doesn’t want to do some of the things that Abby insist upon, but he’s a hormonally charged teenage boy, and Abby is a cute girl. Apparently, they are working on the premise that teenage boys will do anything close to a teenage girl even if it means overworking the string of dead bodies that seem to appear in the Pacific acidity of the parents regularly. The series is enjoyable but does carry the caveat that it is targeting an audience capable of appreciating twisted and macabre humor. The cast is impeccable exhibiting the epitome of comic timing and able to pull the audience into this strange alternate view of suburbia, it is uncertain whether the series will be released on disc, only a few Netflix Original have but it does appear to be exempt from the monthly changes in the site’s available content.

Posted 04/25-2017

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