The mortality of season three makes Santa Clarita Diet essential viewing


Santa Clarita Diet returns for its third season later this month, and it has the potential to become essential viewing.

For two seasons, Santa Clarita Diet has been a delightful showcase for gross-out horror gags, big-time laughs, and the impeccable, addictive chemistry between stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. The domesticated zombie premise has brought gallons of blood and one bizarre situation after another to the ‘burbs of California, but these events – both exciting and hilarious – are merely a mask for what the Netflix series is truly about:

The lengths we are willing to go to for the people we love.

When Sheila (Barrymore) mysteriously begins a transformation into a zombie, her husband, Joel (Olyphant), and teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson), have their lives upended and drastically altered.

Their undying love for Sheila forces them into a position where, against their better judgement, they quite literally feed her untamable addiction to human flesh. They assist Sheila in avoiding major consequences for the frequent messes she finds herself in, and, in some cases, even help her choose who she should eat.

That troublesome affection stems from the fact that Sheila, for the most part, remains intact. Aside from a few grisly transformations that are played for comedy, she is still physically together. She also loves her family very much and would do whatever’s necessary to take care of them and make them as happy as they could possibly be in this understatedly devastating scenario.

She is a murderous, flesh-eating zombie, but she’s nevertheless a wife and mother. This specific factor is why Joel and Abby could never turn their back on Sheila and the nightmare they find themselves in, as tempting as it may sometimes be.

Santa Clarita Diet–Courtesy of Netflix

Brilliantly, the upcoming third season of Santa Clarita Diet owns that unwavering love and turns it into a central crisis; one that has the potential to usher a sincere existentialism into its story.

The series moves briskly and frequently distracts us with humor and genuine moments of sweetness, but the recently released trailer for Season Three is a startling reminder of Sheila’s mortality. She is, after all, undead. This means that, unless she’s killed in the typical fashion in which a zombie would be, she is going to live forever. So what does that mean for her family?

Sheila, armed with the knowledge that her bites are infectious, offers to bite her husband so that the two of them can live forever together, but despite her excitement over the proposal, Joel is understandably hesitant to accept.

The price of immortality is a high one to pay, especially when it means becoming… well, a zombie. Joel has experienced first-hand the horrifying things that Sheila has done and gone through herself since the beginning of her transformation, and he doesn’t want to become the very monster he’s helping to control.

His initial concerns are set to aim Santa Clarita Diet down a fresh path. We should, of course, expect the same recipe from the series that has won Netflix subscribers over in the first two seasons, but now with even more of a focus on family and the effects that Sheila’s zombie lifestyle has on their future together.

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How long can killing and eating bad people keep Sheila satiated? What does it mean for Sheila if Joel rejects her offer and chooses to remain human, eventually dying and leaving his wife all alone? The light tone that has been established throughout the series has made Santa Clarita Diet a ridiculously bingeable affair, but these deeper questions are poised to make it essential viewing.

You can find out whether or not Joel chooses mortality over eternal life with Sheila when Santa Clarita Diet returns March 29, only on Netflix.