TV Series Review: Santa Clarita Diet – Season 2

SANTA CLARITA DIET S2

Anne (Natalie Morales) isn’t willing to give up on the investigation.

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Richard T. Jones, Natalie Morales and Nathan Fillion

Director: Ken Kwapis (Episodes 1, 3), Marc Buckland (Episodes 2, 5, 10), Adam Arkin (Episode 4), Steve Pink (Episodes 6, 8), Jaffar Mahmood (Episode 7), Jamie Babbit (Episode 9)

Writers: Victor Fresco (Episodes 1, 10), Michael A. Ross (Episode 2), Clay Graham (Episode 3), Chadd Gindin (Episode 4), Ben Smith (Episode 5) Aaron Brownstein and Simon Ganz (Episode 6), Melissa Hunter (Episode 7), Caitlin Meares (Episode 8), Romi Barta (Episode 9)

Reviewed by Sidney Morgan

This review CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS.

The first season of Santa Clarita Diet brought us something original. The mother in a seemingly normal family turns into a zombie. To satisfy her hunger, she and her husband engage in selective killings, trying to pick bad people. The daughter plays along, as well as the neighbour’s son because you know, zombies are such a regular and normal occurrence. And while they try to normalize their lives, they also try to figure out how to dezombify mom. And when we last saw the Hammonds, Sheila was chained up in the basement, and Joel was under observation in a mental institution. Without missing a beat, season 2 picks up exactly where last season ended.

Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) believe everything’s fine.

After stopping the progress of zombification, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) continue to try and find its source. They trace it back to a local restaurant, Japopos. Specifically, they believe a bunch of clams to be the culprits. With the help of the receipts, Sheila and Joel track down everyone who ordered them, as well as the supplier. It isn’t a surprise when it’s revealed that those clams were imported from… Serbia! And while this is the driving plot of the season, various side stories and situations happen along the way, which are hilarious!

The acting is still perfect for the show. Timothy Olyphant continues to act as though he’s one hair width away from the precipice of madness. I love watching him act and can’t help but sympathize with him. He was happy with his normal, unexciting life. But the insanity of not only dealing with his undead wife but also of having to kill people is too much. And he portrays it perfectly. It’s difficult to tell whether his smile is genuine or one that masks madness.

Meanwhile, Drew Barrymore continues to be funny. Her scenes with Andy Richter and Natalie Morales are especially gut-busting funny. However, I was a little disappointed with Sheila and Joel’s interactions. When they’re alone together, he tells her this new life is crazy, and she tries to sympathize with him. Again and again. They go on about how their lives will need readjusting, in case, you know, we the viewers haven’t come to that conclusion yet. Don’t get me wrong, even if a little repetitive, it’s still funny. It just feels like we’re laughing at an uncle’s joke, even though he tells it at every family reunion.

Eric (Skyler Gisondo) and Abby (Liv Hewson) doing their best to help.

Abby (Liv Hewson) and Eric (Skyler Gisondo) finally leave the house and spend some time at school. They’re also given their own storylines. Abby is now far more rebellious and begins to stand up for what’s right, with hilarious consequences. Whether it’s defending a bullied girl or planning to sabotage a fracking company’s public image, she’s determined and defiant. Unlike Eric, who tries to be strong, but realizes he isn’t. Though the things he does and the wimpy, nerdy way he interacts with others make us laugh at him, it’s impossible not to feel sorry and root for him at the same time. But his best and most hysterical scenes involve his romantic ineptitude with both Ramona (Ramona Young) and Abby.

The supporting cast, including the victims, co-workers, and neighbours, continues to perform well. But two of them really shine. First, there’s Natalie Morales, who plays Anne, the cop who’s now dating Lisa. The combination of her lines, their delivery and the looks she gives (especially to Timothy) are perfect and hilarious. I can’t wait for her storyline in season 3. And second, also funny is Nathan Fillion who plays Gary. Remember he was killed and buried back in season 1? However, because Sheila didn’t destroy his brains, he never died. Appearing only as a head in a glass jar, he and Tim become good friends. It’s a great and hilarious performance. Now, if we could only see a bit more of Lisa (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) and Rick (Richard T. Jones).

Gary (Nathan Fillion) isn’t dead after all.

The production value is great. That neighborhood they live in is perfect. The colours are bright, everything is clean, and you just know that no such place really exists, does it? The special effects are really well done. Even the CGI spider looks good. And this time, there are major explosions. The budget must have been higher. But most important and one of the show’s greatest asset is the writing. It’s solid, tight and outstanding. A scene may seem isolated and innocent, but later in the show is shown to be directly linked to another scene and the two combine allows for another advancement in the plot. It’s brilliant!

Verdict: Watch it

If you enjoyed the first season, you will definitely love this second one. It’s been a year, but like a friend you can meet up with after years apart and pick up exactly where you left off, Santa Clarita Diet is the same. It’s fun, it’s light, and it will make you laugh. There’s a good story being told amid all the wackiness. The show, the acting, the situations our characters find themselves, everything in this show is completely bonkers. But as Alice tells the Mad Hatter, I’ll let you in on a secret, all the best people are” (bonkers). And this show is among the best.

Santa Clarita Diet is now available on Netflix.

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