Arts, Television

‘Santa Clarita Diet’ Proves Family Matters, Even to the Undead

The Santa Clarita Diet sounds like the newest California nutrition craze. One might think it would involve only eating non-processed foods or going purely organic. This diet, however, isn’t about altering the way Santa Clarita residents look at food. Rather it is about altering how one looks at a Santa Clarita resident. Is this resident merely a resident, or could this person serve as one’s next meal?

Santa Clarita Diet is Drew Barrymore’s first television show. The famous movie actress stars in this Netflix series as realtor Sheila Hammond, who becomes a vampire, unable to feel pain and with a strange new craving for people. Her husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and her daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) must cope with the changes it will put the family through and help Sheila through this uncharted territory.

On the surface, the show revolves around this vampiric conflict, but it is really based around the idea of love within a family. Sheila and Joel have a relationship that is tested beyond their vows of “till death do us part.” Living with an undead wife who has to eat people presents some challenges to say the least. Yet, even in the face of these obstacles, Joel reevaluates how he looks at the world in order to do what he can to stand by Sheila’s side. While this relationship takes place in supernatural terms, the idea of love, marriage, compromising for the sake of one’s partner, and growing together as individuals change still rings true.

The other aspect of family that presents itself is Sheila and Joel’s love for their daughter. The parents have to puzzle through raising a daughter with healthy values while contending with Sheila’s own unnatural tendencies. It can be more difficult to set a good example when one has to kill for their next meal in order to survive. Although the challenges with raising their daughter may be a little different than the average family, they still deal with trying to do the best they can in raising her to be the best person she can be.

The show also puts the vampire craze on its head by exploring the phenomena in a different light. The Hammonds live in the middle of suburbia and trying to manage all that goes along with a small town, while trying to keep Sheila’s transformation a secret. When constantly confronted with life and death, Joel and Sheila comment that it can be hard to make small talk and have superficial conversations. It can also be difficult to sell a house when all one can think about is that great neckline on one’s client.

This diet, however, seems to cut out a few of the necessary nutrients to help it grow and thrive. While certain comical themes kept the show light, it lacked some of the protein that would have added more depth and meaning to the series. The gory scenes were a bit over the top and left little to the imagination. Although some of these scenes may have been left in for comedic effect, the viewers didn’t need to be given so much detail, with nothing open to the imagination. Additionally, the relationships between some of the characters only seem to hit the surface level. This could have been due to the limited 10-episode spot the show was given this season. If there are more episodes in store, fans will surely see the development of relationships within the family and with their friends. Another development audiences will hopefully see will be the progression of Sheila’s vampire state. Audiences are left somewhat unclear about how her condition is going to impact her.

In a recent appearance on The Ellen Show, Barrymore said the Netflix series “has an optimism that I really like and it has a humor that I really need.” This twist on the classic vampire story separates it from the standard vampire genre. What makes the show funny is the juxtaposition between what seems so routine and boring within neighborhood life and the wild, supernatural, violent world of the undead. The real world comparison makes it easier for audiences to relate to such an unbelievable idea.

Perhaps it is a break from reality that everyone needs. When we are confronted with such a troubling time, sometimes it can be nice to get a reprieve from the seriousness of the situations around us, and Santa Clarita Diet has enough of a bite to keep the audience interested.

Featured Image By Netflix

February 5, 2017