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[This story contains spoilers from Santa Clarita Diet‘s second season.]
When Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant’s Sheila and Joel Hammond were first looking for people to kill after Sheila became undead in Santa Clarita Diet‘s first season, they reasoned that their ideal victim would be someone evil without any family members.
Or as Joel put it, “a young, single Hitler.”
In the second season of Netflix’s zombie sitcom, which is now streaming, Joel and Sheila find their “young, single Hitler” in a Nazi enthusiast by the name of Boone, who, the Hammonds discover, is part of an entire softball team of like-minded individuals. Sheila sees them as a perfect source of food and ultimately attacks Boone and his cohorts.
In between the two seasons of the show, though, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists have become more prominent, participating in the deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August, after which President Trump famously claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” of the conflict between white nationalists and counter-protestors.
In fact, Santa Clarita Diet showrunner Victor Fresco claims he and his team actually filmed the episode in which Sheila attacks two Nazis either the day of or day after Charlottesville. Still, he maintains that the storyline, written five months earlier, which seems particularly timely given recent developments, was merely meant to be a callback to the “young, single Hitler” line from season one and not a reflection of the rise of white supremacists in American society.
“We wanted her to target people that she would feel OK about killing; she has to kill somebody,” Fresco says. “We didn’t know at the time that Nazis would become more mainstream, which was just kind of interesting, because we were doing it at a time where Nazis were still, I think, a fringe and then I think after Charlottesville and after the president’s comments, I think there was an active attempt to more mainstream them, which was interesting to me, but it was more that we felt those could be people that we would understand why she would target.”
Fresco said shooting that scene felt odd given the news at the time, but the real-life events didn’t inspire them to alter the script.
“I didn’t know how to react to it at the time,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I mean, I knew how to react to Charlottesville, but I didn’t know how to react to the fact that we were targeting Nazis on the show and Nazis were now in ascension in America. I just kind of put it all under the craziness that’s been happening in America in the last year.”
And he indicates that the show isn’t trying to make a provocative political point in its anti-Nazi message.
“We are targeting Nazis in the show, and we’re not conflating them with any other alt-right [group] or any other political movement in the country, and I think our feeling was it shouldn’t be controversial,” Fresco says. “Obviously we’re not advocating killing anybody, but it shouldn’t be controversial that the Hammonds don’t like Nazis. My only takeaway now, months later is, as I said, I think because of our president, they are not as marginalized, unfortunately, as you wish they were or as they once were. So I think that’s sad for our culture and sad for America, but it doesn’t influence, I don’t think, our show one way or another.”
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