Editor’s note: Kat’s Eye View columnist and Signal photographer Katharine Lotze was given access to all 10 “Santa Clarita Diet” episodes ahead of the Feb. 3 premiere on Netflix. This week, her column appears in Friday’s edition to coincide with the premiere.
South Beach has its own diet, but now it’s our turn…except you’ll want to binge on this diet.
“Santa Clarita Diet” stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a married realtor couple with a teenage daughter living in the ‘burbs of Santa Clarita, when Sheila (Barrymore’s character) suddenly develops a taste for flesh that can’t be ignored.
The first few episodes really try to drive home the “Santa Clarita” part of “Santa Clarita Diet.”
“Why do we have to live between two cops?” asks Joel in the first episode.
It’s pretty clear that Santa Clarita is “coptown” – I’ve even heard law enforcement themselves refer to it as a cop town. Though if you were Sheila, I can see how living between a sheriff’s deputy and a Santa Monica police officer could be …a little tricky.
As Sheila and Joel discover what, exactly, is wrong with her, they also discover a few quirks that come with the territory. One of those quirks leads to an impulse Range Rover purchase from a Creekside Road dealership, complete with a joy-ride right by the old Signal newspaper building.
Overall, the plot shares elements with Showtime’s now-completed drama “Dexter.” But instead of the Sheila struggling internally with her cannibal-like desires, the pair just accepts it, and tries to make the most of their new reality.
Heavy on the black humor, it’s not a show for everyone and definitely not a show for kids. At times, it’s pretty gory, but despite the blood and guts, the show stays campy, over-the-top, and at times, seemingly self-aware.
In the fourth episode, Joel and Sheila are looking to find a person who speaks certain, but not widely-spoken, language for a translation. They seem to forget that they’re just 30 miles from the largest city on the West Coast, with several universities, before doubting it’s possible.
Joel is skeptical they’ll find what they’re looking for “in Santa Clarita, which just got its first Indian restaurant.” It seems like a knock at Santa Clarita, but really, it’s a knock on Joel’s intelligence.
Suspending your disbelief is a must, but the show gains complexity after a few slow-burning episodes in the beginning. The first couple of episodes will have you wondering how they’ll maintain the totally outlandish premise for all 10 episodes, let alone later seasons (if it is renewed; no word on that yet).
As Sheila and Joel try to maintain a normal life, they have to learn to balance life and death – literally.
Between trying to parent their teenage daughter, to trying to maintain an intimate connection themselves, things get a little…bloody – especially when Joel attempts to recreate a first date meal by making Sheila a plate of, uh, spaghetti before their romantic evening is interrupted by yet another complication.
But that’s what you can expect from “Santa Clarita Diet:” just when you start to get a little bored with the plot, it gives you the finger. Or a toe.
Until it really starts to fall apart – but that’s when it gets really good. In the latter half of the 10-episode first season, the one-liners start to turn into a thicker plot, and though you’re laughing through it all, you can’t help but wonder how Sheila and Joel will get out of this mess, this time.