Warning: This is a post about gross shows on TV, so some of the following clips are GROSS. Do NOT read with food or watch the videos on a nice device.
'Last Week Tonight' Writer Josh Gondelman Takes Shots, Talks About Working For John Oliver
With Santa Clarita Diet,Netflix is taking a very dedicated stab at gross-out TV. The trend, a fearless devotion to realistic gore, squishy sounds, and, essentially, not holding anything back, has been gestating since the days of The X-Files, like a nasty collection of bile that needs to see itself out. How did we get here, 2017, a year when it's not a huge deal to see your screen plastered with innards? Below are some of the live-action shows that paved the way for the streaming service's latest gem. (We're excluding 'toons like Happy Tree Friends and reality shows like Fear Factor because even though they're gross as hell, functionally, they're in a league of their own.)
Not the grossest show, you say? Sure, Scully and Mulder's adventures weren't consistently gross, but when they were, they were gorgeously gross. Even more important, the show broke down the norms of what could pass as "watchable" -- and still popular -- TV when it debuted in the '90s, giving us popping pustules, exploding goos, and, of course, that nastiest of assholes, the Flukeman.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy had to square off against some ugly motherfuckers in her day. Der Kindestod, Kakistos, and Gnarl are hard to forget. Same with the nightmare-inducing mealworms.
Bones, CSI, Criminal Minds
You can thank The X-Files for inspiring at least a couple of the people who work on Bones. Though not as intensely sci-fi as The X-Files, Bones still haunts viewers with its surprisingly messed-up killers and their masterpieces. (And hey, if it weren't for Bones, we wouldn't know what flambéed humans, misplaced faces, or intestine showers looked like.) P.S. CSI and Criminal Minds deserve shout-outs here too because they're similarly grotesque procedurals that have an impressive fascination with (and dedication to) uniquely twisted scenes. Ear soup, anyone?
Move over, vamps. Eli Roth's surreal werewolf nightmare does even more weird face stuff. (Hey, Shelley.) The transformation scenes alone are probably enough to turn some viewers completely off. As that kid from The Room would say: "Bye, eyes. Bye, fingers. Bye, mouth."
In the second episode of FOX's spiritually fucked-up reboot, one of the protagonists barfs what looks like two bottles of Green Machine and then yanks a near-never-ending centipede out of her mouth. It's like the Santa Clarita Diet pilot without comic relief. The rest of The Exorcist takes after its big-screen predecessor -- with more contemporary makeup and effects -- to show that head-spinning demonic possession can do the body a lot of bad.
Fittingly, NBC's legendary cannibal prequel sagatook body horror to shocking new levels. Don't believe me? Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, on Hannibal, this one dude named Mason Verger sliced bacon-y strips of skin off his face and fed them to this other dude's dogs. Then, after he was interrupted, he cut into his nose like it was a nice slab of chicken Milanese and ate it himself.
Some people like watching Dr. Pimple Popper. Other people, for some reason, like watching Drs. John Thackery and Algernon Edwards. Jack Amiel and Michael Begler's ode to old-school surgeons comes with open brains, pregnancy blood, and arm noses -- yeah, the kind of stuff that makes you swallow and look away from the screen before, well, chundering. For the uninitiated, ditch the bucket of popcorn and watch with a good ol'-fashioned empty bucket instead.
The Walking Dead
Season 1 introduced us to that half-body zombie. She was just the beginning. Over the course of six more runs, TWD has provided viewers with no dearth of gag-worthy undead massacres and beloved character deaths. Remember Glenn's eye? As Negan would say, this show is consistently "gross as shit!"
American Horror Story
Ryan Murphy's anthology -- home to such nightmares as Twisty, the Infantata, and minotaur sex -- has always been good at unsettling viewers in a beautifully macabre way. But the most recent season, Roanoke, with its disembowelments, charred bodies, and smushed heads, will go down in AHS history as the most graphic and hard to watch. Poor Cricket. All he wanted was a Coke Zero.
Ash vs Evil Dead
Trust: You haven't lived until you've seen Bruce Campbell wear a dead man's body, ding-dong and all, as a necktie.
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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter @srkfitzgerald.