“Santa Clarita Diet” centers around a woman, Sheila Hammond, who becomes undead after ingesting a virus, and now must feast on human meat in order to survive. Joined by her husband, Joel, daughter, Abby, and their neighbor’s son, Eric Bemis, the family must struggle with the moral implications of killing people while maintaining the secret that Sheila is undead. While the premise of this show sounds gruesome, and it is at times, the show handles it in a very comedic way that helps the show stand out from many other dark horror series.
“Santa Clarita Diet” premiered its first season in February 2017 on Netflix, and its second season in March of 2018. Its third season was released in entirety on March 29, 2019, and this season is the best one yet. The stakes of the story and the danger the family gets themselves into is higher than ever, but this season was still filled with many fun moments. This season is full of plot twists that change the course of the series and keep the viewer on edge.
In the first two seasons, Joel and Sheila are a typical real estate couple living an average life with a rude neighbor and a daughter full of teenage angst, but this all changes when Sheila, after unknowingly eating an infected clam, becomes undead and throws up a small ball. After this, Sheila stops craving normal human food and begins to crave raw meat. This craving eventually turns into a craving for human meat. Sheila and Joel, who are both bewildered by this, soon find out that this is not the only side effect of being undead. Sheila is also given a much more upfront and confident personality, does not feel pain and cannot be killed, except by a strike through the head.
Throughout the first two seasons, the family kills many people, but only ones who the family deems as bad, like a group of Neo-Nazis or a cop who abuses his power for his own benefit. At first, Sheila and Joel try to keep these events away from their daughter Abby, but she becomes involved when she finds the dead body kept in the storage unit. She tells her classmate and neighbor Eric, whose abusive stepfather was also killed by Sheila, and a friendship begins. Both of them become accomplices to Sheila and Joel’s crimes, even though the couple is reluctant to allow the teenagers to help.
While the family continues to kill people, they find out that the undead disease has heavy ties to Serbian history, and they also find a clam farm, which is the source of the virus in the area, and Sheila and Joel promptly blow it up. The parents are not the only ones blowing things up, though, as Abby and Eric, two large lovers of the environment, blow up a large scale fracking site that would ruin the ecosystem around it. At the end of the second season, when the family believes things are settling down, Anne Garcia, a cop and the girlfriend of Eric’s mother, finds out about the Hammond’s secrets, but is fooled to believe Sheila is doing the work of God and begins worshipping Sheila.
Season three picks up only a few days after the events of season two, with the events of the last episodes still fresh in the characters’ minds. The main point in the first few episodes being how far Anne can be involved in Sheila and Joel’s murders. This season sees two separate plots running parallel to each other for most of the season. One of these dealing with the family, mainly Joel and Sheila, attempting to protect the family from the effects of Sheila becoming undead. The other plot dealing with Abby and Eric attempting not to get caught for the terrorist attack they committed when they blew up the fracking site. Throughout the season, the viewers find out along with the characters about an ancient group called The Knights of Serbia, who has members all around the world who hunt and kill the undead. There is also a group of Serbians who want to colllect the undead for the substance that runs through their bodies, a liquid that stops aging. The family must deal with these two groups, while also committing a fair amount of murders, in order for Sheila to eat. Throughout the season, multiple other characters turn undead and Sheila realizes she wants Joel to become undead as well, as then the two can live together forever. Joel has a hard time deciding on this, and this causes a rift between the two, but by the end of the season, Joel makes a decision, one to live alongside and love Sheila forever.
In this season, there is also a heavier emphasis on Eric and Abby, who have grown extremely close and have even considered dating. When an FBI agent comes to their school to investigate them about the fracking site explosion, Eric and Abby begin to realize how much they value each other. Neither of them want to put the other in any more danger, so they each push each other away for a while before coming to the realization that they need each other. At the season’s end, the two had successfully covered up their high level crime, and Abby comes to terms with the fact that she has killed three people. The season for the two teenagers ends on a somber note, with the teenagers laying together and resting on each other, symbolizing their relationship.
While the first two seasons of the show were great, the third season feels almost like perfection. Besides a few minor gripes, the season as a whole represents how good the show is. It perfectly blends the comedic elements along with the serious tone of the season, and creates a unique viewing experience. So many other shows akin to “Santa Clarita Diet” try too hard to be serious and deep, while attempting to be more “adult” by including an over abundance of gore and overly violent scenes, creating a show that is gross and tries too hard to be dark. This is not a problem with “Santa Clarita Diet,” being classified as a comedy horror, the writers knows what the show is and does not take itself too seriously, allowing for some truly hilarious moments, but still allowing for more serious and mellow moments where the deeper parts of the characters are explored to show a lot of character growth. The show is unique because of this and hooks the viewers in with interesting premise and characters.
The actors who portray the characters are all phenomenal, with the main cast’s acting being believable and fitting each of the characters perfectly. The writers had created these two great characters, and the actors help make these characters feel real. There are two standout actors in the series that play their characters perfectly and deserve more praise. These actors are Liv Hewson, who plays Abby, and Skyler Gisondo, who plays Eric. In the show, the two characters are teenagers with a close friendship that has an unspoken romantic undertone, trying to cover up their crimes along with helping out Sheila and Joel. Both of these actors make these characters feel real, and they play off of each other perfectly. They truly do feel like two teenagers learning to trust and love one another.
The show is not without its faults, though. While many times the victims and the consequences murders often come back in later episodes and affect the plot, sometimes murders just happen and there are no consequences, even when there should be a good amount evidence leading back to the Hammonds. Often they lure their victims by sending them texts or emails to meet at a place for a certain event, and these messages should lead investigators to suspect the Hammonds, but they never do.
Another fault of the show is that with Joel and Sheila, sometimes they just stop in the middle of a serious situation and begin discussing their interpersonal problems. This is often from Joel saying something stupid and Sheila believing the thing he said was subconsciously about her. While this is funny the first few times, it gets old, and breaks all tension running through the scene.
Overall, the show as a whole is a joy to watch and this most recent season feels like the best yet. The show does contain a lot of blood, cannibalism and murder, but if that is not an issue, then this show is worth a watch. It is unique in the way that it is a horror show that does not take itself too seriously and allows itself to be funny. The show currently has three seasons, totalling thirty episodes, all of which can be watched on Netflix. The show hooks viewers in, pulling them along through the interesting and complex events of the show. This makes the show perfect for bringing in large sessions. This show is a blast to watch and is a unique take on the horror genre.