Netflix’s newest original series,”Santa Clarita Diet,” might make most people hesitate before pressing the next episode button. The elements of a binge-worthy show — a consuming plot, thoroughly developed characters and even some comedy — are present, but are not cohesive enough to watch for four hours straight.
The show follows the lives of realtors Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel Hammond (Timothy Olyphant). After 23 years of marriage, the couple struggles with routine while their romantic and professional lives take a turn towards the boring. Despite the mundanity, everything seems relatively normal until Sheila suddenly falls ill and develops a craving for an unusual source of protein — human flesh. Sustaining Sheila’s newfound appetite throws a wrench into the Hammonds’ picturesque lives, especially when they come under the suspicion of their nosey neighbor, Dan (Ricardo Chavira).
The concept of cannibalism is not exactly earth-shattering. There have been many zombie stories throughout cinematic history, but to the show’s benefit, “Santa Clarita Diet” spins a story of gore and mystery that entices its viewers even without a revolutionary take on these paranormal beings.
Having Drew Barrymore as its leading actress doesn’t hurt the series’ pull, either. She fuses her experience playing badass women with her comedic timing in order to create a character who is equally funny and likable. Her bubbly acting perfectly suits Sheila’s sentimental and endearing qualities. On the other hand, Sheila’s lightness creates deficiencies in the more threatening and dramatic aspects of the role. Regardless, Barrymore’s signature doe eyes and quirky delivery are a pleasure to see on screen.
Like Barrymore, the rest of the cast takes hold of the show’s characters and fills them out with just the right amount of zeal and vigor. However, it seems as if the cast alone carries the show. The script is generic and lacks dimension — which is surprising, considering that it features a cannibalistic undead woman masquerading as a Californian suburbanite. Every episode seems to have a life lesson resulting from the Hammonds’ actions. One episode focuses on enjoying the little things in life, and the next preaches the importance of ambition. “Santa Clarita Diet” almost feels like “Full House” and “Dexter” had a bizarre love child.
Ultimately, if you like Drew Barrymore, gore and light-hearted comedies — somehow “Santa Clarita Diet” meshes the two — you’ll enjoy this show. But if you’re looking for something that packs Netflix’s usual punch of creative genius, “Santa Clarita Diet” does not stack up. While its first season is fun and easy to watch, “Santa Clarita Diet” will need to freshen up its meat in order to keep viewers hungry.
“Santa Clarita Diet” debuted on Netflix Friday, Feb. 3. Ten episodes were released for the show’s first season.
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