Crossing the Stream: Part 36 - "Santa Clarita Diet" Sn 1, Ep 7

Hey, real quick, if someone on my social media feed referred to the "This is America" video by saying that they respect Childish Gambino for appearing shirtless "even with a less-than-perfect physique," is that the most backhanded compliment ever? And better question, if that dude's torso is considered "less than" at all, where is my beluga whale shape in the grand scheme of things? Don't answer that.

I've wondered for many years how naturally thin people view someone my size. When I was a teen, I was convinced that it was revulsion. But as I got older I was able to denote pity behind it. I wasn't the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but something closer to the Elephant Man. Now that I've dropped a few pounds, and I'm feeling pretty good about myself in general, I'm starting to feel more like Jonah Hill during the 21 Jump Street press tour. I know, that is a super-specific feeling. And while I don't think I'll ever feel like Channing Tatum (except maybe for his broken down look in Logan Lucky), I'm pretty confident that I'm not a monster, never was, and there's nothing wrong with being not so little around the middle.

Having said all of that, I still see that current number on the scale and say to myself, "That's too high, unless I suddenly wake up seven feet tall."

Here's a cute problem that I had today: after a normal work day, I opted to walk to the park with my very energetic, recently napped kids and even brought along my inlaws' tiny dog who doesn't get enough walks. When the kids wanted to run full blast with the little fuzzy puppy trailing them and nipping at their heels, I couldn't say no. The firm leash policy, along with the dog being as dumb as a box of rocks, kept me from taking her off the lead to frolic. So, that left it to me to keep up with a hyper toddler and a pathologically hyper Pomeranian. Turns out, even with stubby little legs, both of them could outrun their chubby benefactor. Bless their hearts.

Which arm is it when you're having a heart attack?

"Santa Clarita Diet" Season 1, Episode 7 - "Strange, or Just Inconsiderate?"

"Hey, murderers, let's go to the beach."

When a show drops a cliffhanger such as the ol' shovel-to-the-head that ended "Attention to Detail," the next episode is likely to become a clean-up, heavy with plot resolution and either a return to the status quo or a consequential carpet-bombing of it. At it's best, however, "Santa Clarita Diet" is a show about characters and relationships, and funny dialogue. So, in smart form, this clean-up episode takes the situation with Dan's dead body and uses it as an excuse to focus on those angles.

Since the first half-dozen episodes all see Joel failing to come to terms with his violent, bloody new life as the supportive husband of a zombie, his first foray into murder has his brain somewhere in "safe restart" mode. He's crying at photos of Hawaiian beaches, delivering soliloquies around the romanticism of coffee and master bathrooms, and staring wistfully at a bird feeder. He's in shock, and rather than fling blame for his scarred psyche at Sheila, he's sniping at her over inconsequential things (namely, the conversion of their garage into a home office).

Both Abby and Eric should be in an equal amount of shock, but remain cavalier and disconnected upon seeing Dan dumped in the master bathroom tub. Abby takes the reveal as an opportunity to bust her parents for lying to her, and while I hate to compare the show to "Weeds" time and time again, this was quite reminiscent of the Botwin boys constantly having the moral high ground over their mother. It's a fun upside-down parenting dynamic, especially with the teen straying further and further toward becoming something of a sociopath. Meanwhile, Eric finally sees his tormentor brought low, to the most extreme degree. His one-sided confrontation with the corpse hits the exact right note for a kid who is smart and self-aware, but also overwhelmed by his feelings. While Eric began the series as merely the nerdlinger next door who would do anything for Abby's slightest attention, he's now a very three-dimensional picture of a common suburban tragedy: bottomless potential squandered in an effort to escape his terrible, self-absorbed parents in the sanctuary of pop culture. I now genuinely feel like the Hammonds could adopt him and the writers could make it work naturally.

Speaking of other series regulars who hit the right note, Richard T. Jones, who plays Rick, really shines in his expository drop-in to tell the Hammonds about Dan's mysterious disappearance. It's the scene of the episode that feels most aggressively like an old-fashioned bedroom farce. Then there's the big series newcomer, Natalie Morales as Dan's partner. What a strange development to dispose of a character as broad as Dan and essentially replace his hyperactive detective instincts with that of Anne, a Deputy just as overbearing as her partner but in completely different ways. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if Anne ended up being the next officer next door, what with her intense sexual energy with a not-too-distraught Lisa, and her sly observance of the Hammonds' "inconsiderate" streak.

So, with squad cars camped out just outside the entire day, Sheila and Joel spend the majority of their clean-up episode sequestered in their own house, highlighting just how little time they really spend at home. Sheila suggests just eating the evidence overnight, and while it's an amusing enough scenario it's much more valuable as a little reversal of their roles; this time, Joel is the one who impulsively killed someone and created a mess, and now Sheila's being the supportive spouse and helping to clean it up. That's good stuff. It's as true to life as her earlier subtle request for him to pick up paper towels on his way to dump murder evidence.

Random Notes:

-"I fucking love the fucking sky...among the fucking clouds..."

-The attention to detail in this episode, from Rick's scorn over Dan's microwave mini-quiche, the "strip club that has the bacon he likes," or the character-appropriate beach attire in the family's heroic walk to the Range Rover, is what good comedies are made of. Specificity breeds relatability, even when we're talking about smuggling a half-eaten dead body past thirty cops.

-"If you have a problem with me watching Korean Starcraft tournaments instead of football, then you can suck my dick" should be a t-shirt in a Lootcrate, I think.

-We're two episodes without Loki's undead return to the situation, and there's no telling how unpredictable he will be. Going by Sheila's capacity for attack and consumption, he might end up eating the entire cul-de-sac.

Rating: A


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