It all began innocently enough, with estate agents Joel and Sheila Hammond and their daughter Abby being the poster family for sanitary suburbia in America.
For about five minutes.
That was two years ago in Season 1 of this offbeat black comedy, before something inexplicable happened to Sheila that gave her an insatiable appetite for, well, there’s no way to sugarcoat it – fresh meat. On the hoof, as it were.
After that, things escalated really fast…
Here we are, two hilarious seasons later. During this time, we’ve learned what might have caused Sheila’s condition – which includes not dying; and seen that the family who kills together, stays together.
In Season 3, some new issues come up: the Z-word is finally mentioned (although Sheila chows down on entire bodies, crunchy teeth and all, not just brains); the moral dilemma of “turning” others, for whatever altruistic or selfish reason; and the Hammonds have their own code of ethics a la Dexter (with a subtle dig at the current proliferation of Nazis).
A few new characters have been added to the core cast of Hollywood heavyweights, which includes Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore, who star as Joel and Sheila; Liv Hewson as their daughter Abby; and Skyler Gisondo as Eric Bemis, the Hammonds’ neighbour with the sweetest, most awkward crush on Abby, a story arc that runs throughout Season 3.
Things get even more ridiculous this season
It still looks like Olyphant and Barrymore are having enormous fun as the series descends ever deeper into ridiculous territory.
Their characters are played in a very specific style, which in turn colours the whole show to a slightly lesser degree, and seems somehow more pronounced this go-round.
Dialogue is fast and witty, and there were quite a few snort-out-loud moments, and not because the use of expletives often takes you by surprise in such an otherwise seemingly wholesome setting.
Yes, this sounds odd given the subject matter, but Santa Clarita Diet rides firmly on the back of “normal” while being anything but, at the same time straddles the ridiculous, so the strong language evokes that delicious frisson of shock.
Blood and gore: OTT enough to soften the blow (ahem)
There has been some criticism of the extreme gore and bloodiness, and while that is entirely justified (see what I did there?), it’s so over the top as to soften the blow, so to speak.
Ten half-hour episodes make it a series that’s easy to binge for those with an appetite similar to Sheila’s, especially if you consider five hours in front of the screen a mere snack.