There’s a cycle that happens in popular culture when a genre takes off. What follows is a series of copies which eventually gives way to some form of satire. Take The Walking Dead for example, a juggernaut of a hit television show that single-handedly reanimated the zombie genre. It gave birth to a prequel, various imitators and now, inevitably a satirical take on zombies, namely Santa Carita Diet, a new series from Netflix.
Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are the typical suburban couple with the white picket fence, a teenage daughter and careers as realtors. Their most trying problems are their broken toaster oven and nosy neighbour. That is until something strange begins happening to Sheila. After becoming violently ill and vomiting up what appears to be an organ Sheila finds that she has no heartbeat and an appetite for human flesh.
Episode one sets up the story as well as the tone for the show which takes a bit of getting used to. I have never been a fan of Barrymore and initially had a strong negative reaction to the stilted acting in the show. It does not take long, however, for it to become evident that this is purposeful. The world of Santa Clarita is meant to feel artificial. It is supposed to play like a bad sitcom version of suburbia; a version, mind you, that is punctuated by moments of gore that would not feel out of place on The Walking Dead itself.
There is every indication that the show is deceiving in its simplicity and light-heartedness and I look forward to exploring the underlying themes more as the season progresses. For the moment though Santa Clarita Diet shows great promise and breathes a bit of life into the already decaying zombie genre.