Santa Clarita Diet, Netflix’s newest half-hour comedy, is, in star Timothy Olyphant’s words, “f—ing crazy.” He’s not exaggerating: The show follows a married couple whose ordinary lives are thrown into chaos when one-half (Drew Barrymore) becomes undead and, as a result, starts eating a steady diet of freshly killed humans.
“What I enjoyed was that it seemed absolutely nuts and unlike anything I’d read before,” the Justified alum said on this week’s episode of EW’s What to Watch podcast. “And yet, at the same time, oddly familiar. I thought, ‘This is like ALF.”
In fact, Santa Clarita Diet creator Victor Fresco, whose also known for ABC’s Better Off Ted, cut his teeth writing for the ’80s sitcom about a furry alien who takes up residence with a human family in the suburbs. And though both series share the same surreal quality, this one’s a little grosser. Okay, a lot grosser.
For example, Barrymore’s Sheila begins throwing up, Exorcist-style, in the first episode… and doesn’t stop. By the end of her spell, an entire bathroom is covered in puke.
“I asked [Fresco] before we shot, I was like, ‘You know when you read a scene about somebody vomiting that much, it’s very funny. Is it going to be funny to actually see it?'” Olyphant recalls. “And I think the answer’s yeah. The show didn’t hold back in any of those things. We really went for it.”
That also goes for the scenes where Sheila gnaws on human flesh and organs, which Olyphant said involved “a lot of wincing” on his part. “When they gave you a body part as a prop, you’re like, ‘This thing’s nasty-looking. It’s real-looking,'” he says. “It’s cold, there’s a weight to it, it feels fleshy … It’s wax museum-quality going on there.”
But even in the show’s goriest moments, Sheila retains her charm. “Here’s the thing with Drew Barrymore,” Olyphant says. “There’s no amount of blood you can put on her face where your reaction isn’t still, ‘Isn’t she adorable?’ That’s what we found out.”
So will we be seeing more of the adorable, flesh-feasting Sheila after season 1 drops? “The show ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. It starts at crazy, and it ends at just more crazy,” Olyphant teases, adding that the series is “designed to continue.”
“I remember [Fresco] and I both saying, if we are so lucky to get to a season 5 or 6, that season could be both very familiar to the first and yet completely different,” he says. “If you keep swinging for the fences on this show, if we do our job right, season 5 shouldn’t be anything like season 1.”
Get a taste of the first season in Olyphant’s interview below, and don’t forget to subscribe to EW’s What to Watch podcast for the latest TV news and exclusives each week.
Santa Clarita Diet debuts on Netflix on Feb. 3.