Sheila and Joel have an ideal life. They make good money off of their business working together in real estate. They have a smart daughter and a nice house in a great neighborhood, in a part of California where it’s always sunny and nice.
Then one day, Sheila gets sick — horribly, violently sick. She dies… but only temporarily. She springs back into action with a renewed vigor. She’s happier, more energetic, and her sex drive is through the roof. At first this seems like more than a fair trade-off for her sudden new dietary requirement: nothing but raw meat.
And before long, that isn’t enough. Sheila needs her meat fresher than what you can get at the store, and Sheila is hungry…
Santa Clarita Diet could have been simple a Female Empowerment story and it would have worked just fine. A woman discovers her power and it disrupts the lives of those around her, who had come to expect her to be a little more… demure. That would make a fine story, and in the 80s or 90s it could have been (within the context of a zombie horror comedy, remember) hailed as an instant classic.
Fortunately, Santa Clarita Diet gives us a little more than just that to, um, chew on. It reflects another aspect of Neptune to us. Most women aren’t the personification of a cultural ideal like The Venus of Willendorf — but a few always are. Most Popes don’t terrorize the Cardinals who elected them because they didn’t have a realistic view of what kind of Pope that person would be — but historically, it has happened.
Santa Clarita Diet also shows us another manifestation of Neptune: addiction. At first, Sheila acts like she has been reborn (and by association, to her husband and daughter) into a whole new life. But, like any addictive substance that gives us a temporary kick, it soon demands a higher dosage — and as a result, the cost of that substance increases (and not just in terms of dollars). The pursuit of cocaine or social status or alcohol or religious fervor or crystal meth all come from very similar roots and can end in very similar disasters.
But hey — this is a comedy, right? So naturally, the family all pitches in. Mom’s sudden appetite for living flesh may be weird, but these people ultimately love and support each other. That’s what makes a family… whether by genetics or by choice, no matter what form of “family” we’re talking about… truly great, isn’t it?
Besides: nothing holds a family together like a terrible secret.