Impressions: Santa Clarita Diet

I am a fan of the horror comedy so I jumped into this show with fairly high expectations. I consider both Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant to be exceptional actors, and the Netflix original series have started vastly improving. All in all it seemed like this show was going to have an easy time being a success for me. At then end of the first season I find myself feeling… mixed.

SC Diet (as I will now be short handing) is a show about an average suburban couple. Shelia (Drew) is married to Joel (Timothy), who she has been with since high school. They work together, are both active in raising their daughter, all the stereotypical white picket fence stuff. Shelia is shy and buttoned up wishing she could be more out there but unable to do so. One day she gets extremely ill and they discover that she has turned into a zombie. In addition to now needing to eat human flesh, Shelia also goes through a personality change as it’s explained that zombies are completely controlled by the id. The basic plot follows Joel and Shelia attempting to adjust not only to her illness but the fact that they must now be killers to help Shelia survive. Overall the plot itself is solid. Watching these two change so drastically is interesting, and unlike other shows in the same vein (family with a secret) the daughter is right along with them. You end up getting two developing stories, Shelia and Joel’s and their daughter’s.

So with an interesting plot and with two different but compelling stories what was the problem? The problem is the show never really felt like it found it’s groove. A lot of side plots are thrown in, but are never fully developed. In one episode Shelia starts having a huge impact on the neighbors because they start to admire her new “I am going to do what I want” attitude. Shortly thereafter the subject is closed, the difficulties this brings up are left unresolved, and we just move on. Along the same lines Abby (their daughter) begins to rebel. After discovering her mom is a zombie and helping her hide a body she just doesn’t feel like life hands her anything exciting, so she starts to seek it out. Once again this plot line is never fully developed and almost completely dropped/ignored after it comes up. Without giving away many more spoilers this is a repeating problem in the show from start to finish. Something comes up, it seems compelling, and then they fail to flesh it out before simply moving on to the next plot line.

A few of these instances are brought back up again, which presents the option for closure. However, even when something comes back around it still fails to feel like it is developed from start to finish. If you break down a lot of what happens in the show you have material for a few seasons. Instead it all feels rushed and jammed into the 10 episodes. This leaves a very unsatisfying feeling, and begs the question of why they didn’t take more time with the pacing of the show?

In spite of that there are some really solid moments. Joel, Shelia, and Abby’s characters are all well done, and their relationships with each other are interesting and well written. The humor is dark and make no apologies for that. The show will at one second make you cringe from the gore, and the next laugh at something you might feel like you shouldn’t be laughing at. Even with feeling like the plot left me wanting, the character development and humor rarely did.

I think that’s what makes it all the more disappointing. The ground work for possibly one of the best shows of the year is there. It’s well acted, amazing guest stars, all at once hilarious and disgusting, and has amazing characters. Then this poorly paced plot comes along, and it just kind of cuts the legs out from underneath itself. Even worse is all the subplots presented have a lot of potential to be something great with just a bit more time.

I find myself easily saying that I liked the show, and am really hopeful that the wait for the next season won’t be too terrible. However, it is so close to something I could have loved that I can’t help but be a little disappointed. If they cut the number of plot lines down significantly and spend more time and care fully developing them then season 2 could easily be a hands down winners. As of now season 1 was fun, but missing being something more.

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