Santa Clarita Diet: “So Then a Bat or a Monkey” (Season 1, Episode 1)

A lot has changed since the virulent strain of zombie media first made the leap from movies to the small screen, but we are nearly a decade in from day zero of the zombie apocalypse and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to find the cure any time soon.

In the early days of The Walking Dead, there was nothing quite like it. Viewers being able to spend more than two hours with the protagonists before they either succumbed to the zombie horde or found a way to live peacefully with their zombie best friend for the rest of their days? Who wouldn’t be compelled to see average human beings struggle against the living dead and continuously persevere? There have been a handful of shows that have tried to pry the baton from The Walking Dead‘s hands (including a spin-off), but like the creatures it is named after—the show continues to trudge along, even after it had been pronounced dead by many professionals. So, while the zombie copycats might have stopped rising from the pile of dead ideas in the last few years, the virus has mutated in ways that we might not have thought possible in the early days of the outbreak.

The zombie mutagen has transformed into everything from zombie medical examiner to zombies dealing with racism to whatever it was Z Nation was, and now? Now, we’ve got a small suburban family trying to stick together while mom has developed an insatiable hunger for human flesh and the delicious, meaty organs that lie beneath.

Santa Clarita Diet‘s “So Then a Bat or a Monkey” presents a story that focuses primarily on the husband and wife realtor duo, Joel (Timothy Olyphant) and Sheila (Drew Barrymore) Hammond—and less so (so far, anyway) on their daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson), but I’m sure she will bring something besides the neighbor boy (Skyler Gisondo) to the table in upcoming episodes.

The pilot paints a picture of a happy family living reasonable lives in Santa Clarita, California (also known as the place where Six Flags is located), but also makes sure to leave room for improvement. The first five or so minutes of the pilot has Sheila rejecting her husband sexually and then fawning over the bold life choices of Jennifer Lawrence in regards to her most recent haircut.

She wants to be bold, she will be bold.

After a handful of scenes featuring everyone’s favorite space captain turned author (and not the other way around, Wikipedia) Nathan Fillion, a pair of law enforcement agents and way, way too much vomit—we finally get to the part where the show begins to take shape and become the show it will be for the remainder of the series.

Sheila being bold … and also dead.

There is a lot to enjoy in Santa Clarita Diet if you’re a fan of campy comedies and either of the leading actors, but viewers could very well be turned away from the gratuitously gross moments the show will undoubtedly throw in a couple of times per episode. While I was perfectly fine with the consumption of human flesh, eating lunch during the never-ending vomiting bit was probably not my favorite moment of television in recent memory.

I will say, however, that I think if you’re only mildly turned off by it—stick it through, I think Santa Clarita Diet has enough substance to make up for any small aversions viewers might have while getting through the show.

Speaking of which, I’ve got my season finale prediction for those of you who are into that sort of thing:

At the end of Santa Clarita Diet‘s first season, I think the Hammonds will have to find a way to quietly eliminate one of the two law enforcement officers that live next to them in a Dexter/Doakes-esque finale, setting the next season up for the other law enforcement officer to figure out what happened to the first one.

All in all, I think Santa Clarita Diet had a much stronger pilot than I had been expecting. After watching the official trailer when it popped up on my Netflix landing page a few weeks back, I was sure that this show was going to be a waste of time and talent from all involved like a few of the recent Netflix comedies have been. I was pleasantly surprised.

Moral of the story, if you’d like to enjoy Santa Clarita Diet, either avoid the official trailer that I linked above or come in with cautiously low expectations and you just might end up enjoying yourself.

 

If you’re interested in the series, the first season of Santa Clarita Diet is available to watch on Netflix. If you’d like to see what else Daniel is watching, you can check his Trakt page to keep up-to-date with all of his shows. 

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About Daniel

I'm a guy who spends way too much time playing board games and watching television with his friends. View all posts by Daniel

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