I was already a Santa Clarita fan after watching Season 1. More to the point, I was a fan of Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore as Joel and Sheila Hammond, a realtor couple in Santa Clarita, California, trying to retain some sense of normalcy to their lives after Sheila becomes a walking, talking member of the undead.
Without these actors doing a believable job as the Hammonds, this series wouldn’t work. Drew Barrymore seems even more comfortable in the role of Sheila during the second season, and Olyphant continues to pull off an amazing performance as the nervous, flustered Joel, a character diametrically opposed to his roles in Justified and Deadwood. I had to convince my wife that this was the same actor who was Marshal Raylan Givens.
My praise for Barrymore and Olyphant takes nothing away from the performances of the other actors in the series. Liv Hewson, as the Hammonds’ only child Abby, comes into her own this season, and it’s impossible to ignore her when she’s on-screen. Skyler Gisando, as socially-awkward genius neighbor Eric Bemis, has what just may be the most difficult role in the series, but he makes it look easy. The four characters played by these actors are the protagonists of the series. All of the main story threads run through these characters.
Without giving away all the secrets of this season, I will say that the main story arc involves the Hammonds trying to track down the cause of the zombie virus. The investigation introduces new characters who will be Joel and Sheila’s enemies, while at the same time, Deputy Anne Garcia (Natalie Morales), who is romantically involved with Lisa Palmer (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), Eric’s mom, is performing her own investigation into her missing partner Dan and realtor Gary West (Nathan Fillion). This is stress in addition to that already caused by trying to keep Sheila fed and happy. Murder doesn’t come naturally to the Hammonds, so they’re learning as they go. Like Dexter, they’re trying to kill only bad people.
As is true with all great second acts—and, in my opinion, the perfect series is all second act between the premiere episode and the series finale—often any step forward is followed by a couple of steps backward. As minor victories are won, new and bigger challenges rear their heads. It’s great.
Even though I’m giving Season 2 the same score as I did Season 1, I did like it even more than the first. The gore is minimal and relatively tasteful, but the violence may be triggering for gentler souls. You already know whether or not horror comedy is your cup of tea.
Firewater’s Season 2 Report Card: A