Santa Clarita Diet is a Netflix original horror-comedy series created by Victor Fresco, starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. Fresco serves as show-runner and is an executive producer alongside Barrymore, Olyphant, Michael A. Ross, and Brittany Segal. The series officially premiered on February 3, 2017, with an initial release of 10 episodes.
Married couple Sheila and Joel are real estate agents in Santa Clarita, California. The couple's lives take a dark turn after Sheila goes through a transformation – becoming a zombie who feeds on human flesh.
Show creator Victor Fresco is well known for writing off-kilter family comedies, which prepared him for crafting a surreal series like Santa Clarita Diet. He ultimately wanted to take a crazy idea and then ground it, and his goal was to create a family show with an interesting twist we've never seen before and make it different than just a family living in the suburbs dealing with everyday problems. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Victor states, “I get tired of watching shows about a family and the big change that happens to them is one of the parents moves in or something like that. As a writer, you just try to do something that you feel is going to be really fun for you to write, and this felt like — and was — fun to write.” He went on to explain that he wanted to give the Hammonds a giant problem, but then also ground it in a real way and try to see what effect it would have on a relationship. He was also interested in narcissism and how the undead are the ultimate narcissists. He wanted to experiment with how Sheila will adjust to getting what she wants all the time while also staying in a relationship. He also says it was important for the Hammonds to remain a strong couple, telling EW, "I personally would rather watch and write that kind of love and then the challenges from the outside coming in and how do we navigate this together as a team rather than, are we a team?"
When asked about why Victor chose Santa Clarita as the location, he clarifies that he wanted the family to be in a middle-class, working-class suburb and didn't want them to have wealth. He also says he enjoyed how organized and groomed the Santa Clarita community was and thought it played well against the complete chaos that happens with the Hammonds. "Their lives are also perfectly groomed until this event happens, and then it goes off the rails, and it just was a fun area to juxtapose with this kind of energy," Victor says. He also reveals why he chose to make Sheila and Joel realtors, explaining that he likes the forced friendliness required in the real estate business. When realtors are showing a house or with a client, they have to present themselves as if they're so happy and everything is great, despite the fact that the Hammonds' lives are spiraling out of control.
The central message that Victor wanted viewers to take away from Santa Clarita Diet is that empowerment is a good thing, but at the same time, there is a fine line to walk without being narcissistic. He tells NME, "One of the geneses of this is that empowerment is a good thing: to take hold of your life and get what you want, and be confident. All of those things are good. The other side of empowerment is narcissism. You can just end up being a complete narcissist, and as I watched our culture in the last few years – mostly this is reality shows – we’re living in a very narcissistic culture where narcissism is admired and glorified. We consume and consume without thinking about consequence, as the undead do." He explains that the show was a comment on how we as people and humanity are the ultimate zombies, destroying and consuming without consequence, but it's also important to have some kind of limits. He goes on to say, "I think most normal people can relate to that. We can relate to wanting to have what we want, but also not alienate everyone around us and to try to take care of our environment and our families."
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Season 1 of Santa Clarita Diet received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 70% based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Santa Clarita Diet serves up an excellent cast, frequent laughs, and an engaging premise -- but the level of gore might not be to everyone's taste." On Metacritic, the season has a score of 67 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Creator Victor Fresco first wrote the script and then gave it to his production partners Tracy Katsky and Aaron Kaplan, who really enjoyed it. The trio then went to Netflix, and Netflix read it and said they’d like to do it if they could all agree on the talent. They put lists together of who could be Joel and who could be Sheila, and Drew Barrymore was at the top of that list. They wanted someone who was going to be endearing and adorable and strong but that the audience would still root for. Although Drew had never done television before and wasn't necessary looking for that kind of role, they got her to read the script, and she loved it. "She just really embraced the physicality of the role and what she was going to go through in her metamorphosis. She starts as this mousey realtor in the Valley and she ends up as this really badass tough woman," Victor tells Entertainment Weekly.
Timothy Olyphant was also a top contender for Joel's character, heavily suggested by Netflix. Victor admits that he loved Tim's work in Deadwood, which is one of his favorite shows, and he even once worked with Tim on an episode of My Name is Earl. He was mostly familiar with Timothy's more dramatic and badass characters and wasn't originally imagining him in this type of comedic role. However, Tim was the first to read the script and he liked it, much to Victor's surprise. "He knows comedy and he can do comedy. What he does that I love is that he plays authentic. He'll never push his character to get a joke. He keeps that character very grounded, and he has a very dry, wry delivery that I like writing." Victor tells The Hollywood Reporter. He also goes on to reveal the relationship between Tim and Drew, stating, "Drew and Tim had never met each other and they are just so sweet together, both on camera and off. They're very respectful and welcoming and encouraging of each other. So that's been a very nice relationship to watch also." 
Netflix began promoting the show in November 2016, recruiting several models and television personalities to pose with various Santa Clarita Diet themed products. The products included drinks and smoothies as part of a special "diet plan", with the intent of spoofing other weight loss products commonly advertised on social media. The photos were then shared on the models' respective social platforms to garner the attention of their significant fan following. Netflix then continued this parody-style advertising campaign, releasing trailers in the style of a weight loss commercial, and even creating a website in the likeness of other diet plan companies.
In February 2017, advertising for the show sparked criticism in Germany, where Netflix promoted the show with posters depicting a human finger sliced up like a Currywurst, a popular German fast food dish. After receiving more than 50 complaints that the advertising was glorifying violence and inducing fear, especially in children, the German Adversiting Council, a self-regulatory institution, forwarded the complaints to the company. Netflix then decided to end the campaign and remove all posters.
- The idea for the show was percolating in Victor's mind for several years before actually penning it into a script.
- The character of Sheila was written with Drew Barrymore in mind.
- After meeting Timothy Olyphant and seeing his real life demeanor, Victor decided to tweak Joel's character a bit to make him a former high school quarterback and a bit of a stoner, which wasn’t in the original script.
- Although Drew had to deal with a lot of gore and was put in several uncomfortable situations, she never complained and was always more concerned about getting the shot than her own comfort level.
- The character of Dr. Cora Wolf was specifically written for Portia de Rossi.
- Portia starred on Better Off Ted, also created by show-runner Victor Fresco.
- Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, and Portia de Rossi have all starred in the Scream horror franchise: Barrymore in Scream (1996) and Olyphant and de Rossi in Scream 2 (1997).
- Timothy Olyphant lives between 2 police officers on the show. He was also a police officer on the show Justified.
- Timothy Olyphant and Patton Oswald both started together in Justified.