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‘Santa Clarita Diet:’ more Drew Barrymore, please

| Monday, April 15, 2019

Joseph Han | The Observer

The third installment of Netflix’s original series “Santa Clarita Diet” was released in late March, starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. A comedy about a normal, upper-middle class family living peacefully in Santa Clarita Diet comes with a strange and apocalyptic twist: Barrymore’s character, Shelia Hammond, is an undead and immortal person who eats human beings in order to survive. This season follows Shelia and Joel Hammond (Barrymore and Olyphant, respectively) as they deal with more people who become undead or wish to become undead — all while a dedicated zombie-killer organization titled the Knights of Serbia close in on discovering Shelia as an undead. The show, though, loses my attention at times when it focuses less time on Barrymore and more on farcical and laborious plot lines surrounding less interesting side characters.

Shelia Hammond proves the most interesting character of the bunch on “Santa Clarita Diet.” Shelia is fun, and her moral dilemma of whether or not to turn people undead so they can experience the euphoria and freedom that accompanies it makes her a complicated character. In the third season, Shelia teams up with an older woman she provides Meals on Wheels to, biting her so she can live longer and see the birth of her first grandchild. Moreover, Shelia continues to find more Nazis to kill so she can eat (deeming them bad enough people to be eaten). Amidst all this, she and Joel are attempting to start their own realty company, Hammond Realty, from scratch. Shelia also switches from talk of killing Nazis and stopping reckless undead in the community to motherly anecdotes to her daughter, Abby, to quick remarks about equality and positive energy. As the dynamic and seasoned actor she is, Barrymore’s character is one I get excited to see in every scene she’s in. She keeps me guessing about what she will do or say next.

Other characters are not as enjoyable to watch and follow boring plot lines that derail the more attention-grabbing aspects of the show. This mainly comes from the plot lines of Abby Hammond, the daughter of Olyphant and Barrymore’s characters. Abby teams up with her neighbor and friend Eric, after they recently blew up a fracking site on the basis of environmental justice. Abby and Eric — portrayed by Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo, respectively — have to avoid police-turned-FBI investigations in the fracking site, interacting with suspicious friends from high school and hiding tools and other items involved with creating an explosion. This all seems too farcical and unrealistic, and yes, I recognize I’m calling something unrealistic in a show where Drew Barrymore eats people in order to stay alive. To top it all off, the two have an annoying will-they-won’t-they relationship, taking up valuable time that could be used to engage more with apocalyptic themes. Other characters include Anne, a neighbor cop who creates a religious following for Shelia thinking she is sent by God, and Ron, a recently undead person who has yet to say an interesting line.

While “Santa Clarita Diet” is an entertaining and fast watch, especially for the summer, many clips in the season are boring and uninteresting. I would not blame you if you skipped through those parts.

Show: “Santa Clarita Diet” Season 3

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant

If you like: “Stranger Things,” “Barry”

Where to watch: Netflix

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5



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