'Santa Clarita Diet' Review: How The Combination Of Genres Can Make Or Break You

'Santa Clarita Diet' Review: How The Combination Of Genres Can Make Or Break You

A look at Netflix's newest show's combination of the horror and sitcom genres.

Considering my love for murderous television families, you'd think my starting "Santa Clarita Diet" had something to do with its plot. After all, the show follows Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant), married realtors living in the suburbs of Santa Clarita, California, and disguises itself as a sitcom until a virus causes Sheila to make a sudden and disturbingly gruesome transformation into a zombie, leading its two stars into crime and murder plots, sitcom aesthetic still intact. When I started "Santa Clarita Diet," though, I had no idea of what the actual plot was. My interest in the show was actually sparked by a gif on Tumblr, several days after the show's release on February 3rd, of Timothy Olyphant throwing up a peace sign, covered in blood with a smile on his face.

It turned out getting to that moment from the second episode was a little harder than expected, considering how stomach-turning the first episode is. Though the show becomes tamer after its pilot, the first episode features such an excessive amount of vomit and guts that I almost abandoned the show for fear of finding that the rest of the episodes were the same. I rarely have an issue with gore, but because of the colorful, tame sitcom feeling that "Santa Clarita Diet" has, every moment of blood and bile becomes unsettling and startling. Shows that live in darker, grittier worlds don't deliver the same shock as finding dead bodies in your suburban family comedy.

The show was able to keep me and eventually have me binge-watching the ten episode season, though, with its humor and characters. It has plenty of genuinely funny jokes, most of them dark humor, which isn't surprising considering the subject matter, and its characters are refreshing and compelling. Joel and Abby are the standouts, as the sources of the majority of the depth and heart of the show, but every character provides the comedy and high-energy that keeps the show moving. Though its plot comes straight from the horror genre, the cast and humor allows the show the love and family-oriented center of sitcoms. It's able to both present heavy subjects with levity and comedy and provide depth to comedic situations through its combination of genres, so that even when the plot stalls or muddies for a moment, its characters can still shine through.

As long as you can handle the gore of the first episode, the show is worth watching. There are only ten episodes, each under thirty minutes, so it's an easy show to watch during breaks from work or when you have free time. Although, I wouldn't recommend watching that first episode during your lunch break.

Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"

I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.

We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Singing About You: A Journey Through The Lens Of Kendrick Lamar

"When the lights shut off and it's my turn to settle down, promise that you will sing about me."


The echoes of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” from his 2015 album, "To Pimp a Butterfly" are reverberating loudly on my eardrums.

Last week, the Compton rapper received a Pulitzer Prize in the music category for his powerful contribution to the world that is his latest album, "DAMN." This marks a huge milestone in the history of hip-hop because no other artist in the genre has ever been honored with the prize.

Yes, that includes all of his influences that he succeeds: Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Jay Z, and Eminem.

2011 and 2012 saw K-Dot’s ascension with his mixtape “Section.80” and his debut album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city.” The two, particularly the latter, were concerned with the struggles of coming up in the cruel streets of his hometown. “GKMC” takes the listener on a journey in the backseat of Kendrick’s mother’s van.

The magic of this album is its storytelling ability to put you right in the middle of the action whether you are from the hood or not. The lyrics paint the imagery while the beats and melodies play tug of war with your adrenaline when bullets pierce through skin, when sirens pulse through bones, or when smoke permeates through lungs. We feel his desire to create and protect love in a place where love often means loss and pain. The encouragement of Kendrick’s friends, family, and God throughout the album pave the path out of Compton to a position where he is able to spread his influence to the world.

The anecdotes from the mad city become our own, and Kendrick goes on to discuss the racial divide in the country and the tempting evils of fame and fortune that he momentarily succumbs to in his jazz-inspired second album, "To Pimp a Butterfly."

The album is a gasp for life in the thin air of discrimination, self-deprecation, and subsequent depression. Audiences feel the struggle just to say what is on the mind when Kendrick repeatedly tries to express a coherent thought at the end of several songs, each time adding a few extra words before being cut off before the breath is even finished exhaling. But these struggles are remedied by the uplifting message of self-love present in songs such as “i.”

The culmination of the album is a release of the message he’d been trying to deliver that comes halfway through the 12-minute long “Mortal Man.” The second half of the track reveals that this message was being expressed in an interview between Kendrick and (a recording of) Tupac. The discussion dives further into the album’s themes of racism and discrimination in the country and fighting others in one’s own community because of a lack of respect; themes that are cut off suddenly after a crescendo of instruments layered over Kendrick’s poem about the “pimped butterfly.”

That sudden halt not only fits with the motif of abrupt endings in “TPAB,” but it also means that Kendrick had a lot more to say on that discussion beyond that one album or point in his life. That is where 2017’s "DAMN." comes into play.

The now-Pulitzer-winning album is the bold and biting return of a newly healed Kendrick to combat discrimination against the black community in America. If our boy had any doubts about his mission in his previous albums, they have been drowned in the same water that he emerges from as a new man with clarity of purpose, background, and worth as a black man.

The album begins and ends with Kendrick’s statement, “So I was taking a walk the other day…” Everything that comes in between that repeated line is inviting the listener to join him on that walk which exposes the cruelty of our racist society. But it does not leave us hopeless. If anything, Kendrick’s confidence and strength raging against the confines of Black America gives us an example to follow. For that, we celebrate this album so passionately.

My hope is that Kendrick knows that Heaven and Earth are shaking with his vibrations, and he has people out here praying for him, thankful for him. We'll be singing about you forever, K-Dot.

Cover Image Credit: Jalani Johnson

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