By Alyssa Gautieri
Drew Barrymore chewing on dead flesh, biting into a neighbor’s neck and tossing fingers and toes into a blender are just a few of the things you’d see if you watched the first season of the Netflix original series “Santa Clarita Diet.”
Society has always been revolted by cannibalism, so when Netflix released an original series about a suburban mother who engages in violence, murder and cannibalism, I was taken aback. Despite it being a little strange, I was surprised to find the first season both entertaining and intriguing.
The new show joins a list of other popular Netflix original series including “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things” and “Fuller House.”
Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star in the new series as married realtors named Sheila and Joel. The first season brings viewers on a journey as the characters try to understand Sheila’s spontaneous transformation.
While I had to occasionally look away as Sheila tore into human flesh, the series goes beyond gore by exploring universal curiosities. The characters, unsure of whether or not to call Sheila a zombie, try to understand the binary of life and death. Sheila claims to feel more energized and alive, yet she can no longer detect her own heartbeat and her blood has turned into black ooze.
Aside from debating philosophical issues, the series also highlights the strong bonds between families as well as friends. After discovering that his wife needs human meat in order to survive, Joel willingly hunts for food alongside his high school sweetheart.
The couple’s daughter, Abby, also supports her mother’s new habit with her best efforts. Eric, a neighbor and science geek, keeps the family’s secret as he proposes possible reasons for Sheila’s new desire for human flesh.
Conscious of the fact that they could all go to jail for murder, the characters do their best to hide the bodies — which isn’t always hard considering Sheila can eat most of the remains. Families that kill together, stay together, right? In a strange way, the series provides a heartwarming portrayal of a dedicated family.
Despite their casual attitude toward murder, the family hasn’t lost all morality — they intend to only kill deserving prey.
“We have to kill someone that deserves it,” Joel said to his wife in the second episode entitled “We Can Kill People!”
I found myself sympathizing with the family, despite the fact that they really are murderers. While the concept behind cannibalism and zombies is entirely unrealistic, the characters are strangely relatable as they struggle to adapt to this obstacle.
Despite the serious topic discussed in the show, the original series is a hit as a comedy. As the family discovers the best way to successfully kill, store and consume human beings, their go-to coping mechanism is humor. Without comedy, “Santa Clarita Diet” would be just another unoriginal zombie series. Instead, the series takes a different direction, one that incorporates a variety of different themes including humor, love, death and humanity.
A good show takes its audience on an emotional journey, and this series had me laughing, questioning, sympathizing and, at times, feeling a little queasy. While the first season of the series was a little weird, I will definitely tune in for the second season.