We’ve got our first peek at what’s in store for the third season of The Santa Clarita Diet, Netflix’s clever horror-comedy series about zombies in an affluent California suburb. It’s what you’d get if the CW’s hipster comic/horror procedural, iZombie, grew up and moved to the suburbs: same bloody, bonkers humor with more pastels and fake pasted-on smiles.
(Some spoilers for first two seasons below.)
The series centers on Joel and Sheila Hammond (Tim Olyphant and Drew Barrymore, respectively), married real estate agents who find their lives irrevocably altered after Sheila has an extreme upchucking incident while showing a house to prospective clients. She thinks it’s a bad case of food poisoning but soon begins to crave human flesh. The upside: she feels better than she has in years, and her increased libido kick-starts the Hammonds’ previously humdrum sex life into overdrive.
“The undead are the ultimate narcissists.”
But The Santa Clarita Diet strives to be something more than mere suburbia satire, which—let’s face it—is over-ripe for pointed mockery. Series creator Victor Fresco wanted to make “a family show” with a unique twist, but he also sees the zombie condition as a metaphor for extreme narcissism. “The undead are the ultimate narcissists,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “They want what they want when they want it and will do anything to just have what they want and don’t care about other people’s needs.”
Indeed, Sheila’s extreme impulsivity was a key theme in season 1, as the family struggled to come to grips with the reality of managing her condition. (Among other concerns, the police are likely to take notice if too many neighbors go missing.)
Season 1 was a bit uneven, especially in the earlier episodes, but the show found its stride by the end of that first 10-episode run, despite some misgivings among reviewers about the graphic violence. (Yes, there’s quite a bit of gore, but what do you expect with a zombie horror/comedy?) The Hammonds adjusted to this new reality and pondered the morality of having to kill humans to feed Sheila. Well, Joel pondered, Sheila’s relentless hunger easily overrode any moral qualms she once may have had.
Mostly, she tries to eat bad people: pedophiles, drug dealers, Nazis, crooked cops, and one lascivious fellow real estate agent named Gary (Nathan Fillion), who aggressively hits on Sheila and suffers for it. Fillion’s character was so beloved by fans, the writers brought him back as a reanimated severed head in season 2. Joel bonded with Gary, and a genuine friendship developed before the inevitable farewell.
Amidst all the wacky murderous hijinks as the couple tries to elude detection, Joel and Sheila try to investigate how she ended up being zombified in the first place. So far, it involves coughing up a mysterious round organ-like thing (that eventually evolves into what Sheila calls a “mutant spider ball”), ancient Serbian texts, and a bad shipment of clams to a local restaurant. When we last left the Hammonds, they had switched town in the wake of way too many bodies, with daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and her new boyfriend, next-door-neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) tagging along for Purposes of the Plot.
The season 3 trailer finds the family in a new home, hoping that things will soon get back to normal—or as normal as life can be with a zombie in-house. Sheila is still targeting Nazi neighbors—”He’s like a walking protein shake,” she moans, eying her prey—and now the big question is how the couple will weather her immortality, barring a spike through the head. Sheila proposed biting Joel so that he will also turn, and they can spend eternity together.
Joel, understandably, balks at this suggestion. “So my world disgusts you?” a defensive Sheila asks. “Can we acknowledge it’s weird?” Joel replies. Personally, we’re with Joel on this one. Zombification is forever; it’s not a decision a couple should take lightly.
Season 3 of The Santa Clarita Diet drops on Netflix March 29, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix
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