The Hammonds are back for another season of Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet,” released on March 29. Season three of the zombie sitcom is full of the same clever humor, fast-paced storylines and spunky performances by leads Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as Sheila Hammond and Joel Hammond, respectively.
The show’s third season finds the Hammond family well-adjusted with their modern-day Santa Clarita life after Sheila wakes up one day craving human flesh. Last season, the Hammonds discovered not only that there were more undead humans like her in Santa Clarita, but also that she became this way because of tainted clams she coincidentally consumed one evening at a local Italian restaurant.
What makes “Santa Clarita Diet” shine is its combination of comedy, sincerity, suspense and horror; none of these aspects overshadow the show’s tone, making the 10-episode stint a fairly enjoyable ride.
Despite Joel’s hope each season that everything will return to normal, normalcy never seems to come. The simple act of the couple trying to live an average life, even though they must kill someone each week for Shelia to remain satiated, brings about the show’s best comedic moments.
Amidst each of Shelia’s undead plague crises comes another crisis of suburban life. Whether it’s through Sheila’s ideas for dinner for the head of the Knights of Serbia—the zombie-killing cult—or Joel asking Sheila to remind him to pick up toilet paper at the grocery store while they are stalking Sheila’s next meal, “Santa Clarita” always finds a fantastic balance between comedy and horror.
The condensed season, however, is one of the flaws “Santa Clarita” suffers from. While the fast pace can help such a short season, there are way too many conflicts and character arcs to follow.
The villains and problem-characters just keep coming at Joel and Sheila, and some are just purely plot-based to make for a “nail-biter” of an ending. The suspense of Joel and Sheila’s fate is always squashed when considering the series’ genre. It just wouldn’t make sense if any of the main characters were to suddenly die; the whole tone would shift.
The relationship between Joel and Sheila’s daughter, Abby played by Liv Hewson, and Eric, played by Skyler Gisondo, is one of the season’s highlights. Viewers may have been rooting for them from the very start after Eric’s obvious crush on Abby in the first season, but even when Abby finally decides to see where things go with Eric romantically, it comes far too late and results in a buildup of three seasons that still has yet to be paid off.
A final flaw in an otherwise enjoyable season is the continued gore. It is a zombie show after all, but Sheila’s constant snacking on earlobes or the undead feasting on bloodied humans sometimes can be overbearing, especially if one were to watch the whole season in one go.
“Santa Clarita Diet” is a clever show and, despite its flaws, can be appreciated for its fresh take on the zombie-horror genre.