If you thought the trailer for Netflix’s latest series Sweet Tooth was weird as heck, you’re not alone. You’d hardly be blamed for dismissing it as a bizarre way to waste a few hours of your life, or as something for the youths. If you’ve already filed it into the mental pile of unwatchable YA fiction pile, however, you may want to reconsider. Here’s what we thought of this peculiar new series.
Based on a DC comic, Sweet Tooth throws us into a post-apocalyptic world in which a virus has already wiped out a large portion of the human population. Along with the virus (causing it or caused by it) come the human-animal hybrid babies. The hybrid children are feared by the remaining humans, and hunted. In the midst of all this, we meet Gus, a boy with deer antlers and ears who was raised by his father in the forest – away from all of the threats humanity has to offer.
Despite falling into a category that many would consider to be outside of their usual viewing, the series has garnered excellent ratings. IMDB has award it a 98% rating, and IMDB is not far behind, at 8,2 out of 10.
But what’s so great about Sweet Tooth?
The series has created a marvellously convincing post-pandemic world (more-so now that audiences have lived through an actual pandemic), in which nature appears to be reclaiming what humans destroyed. Its themes of environmental revenge, separatism, and intolerance, as well as solidarity, empathy, and diversity offer a distorted mirror image of what many people are experiencing today. Through this comic book narrative of the plight of hybrid animal children, we’re shown a stylized, yet uncannily accurate representation of many of the ills society is already dealing with.
This series also demonstrates – albeit in an exaggerated manner – the way different generations have come to see themselves as having fundamentally different ideals in contemporary society. Daniel D’Adarrio writes in his review for Variety that “the depiction of young people as literally a different species from their elders, fighting for their right to exist in a world that doesn’t understand them, is a somewhat simple metaphor, but it would be churlish to deny its elemental power”.
All of this is brought to life through an exceptional cast and their convincing performances. The burley and moody ex football player, Jep (Nonso Anozie), and the exceptionally naive and optimistic Gus (Christian Convery) make an odd pair that somehow balance each other out. Together they demonstrate all the character growth one hopes to see from shows like this, and which is so often lacking. Their team grows when they encounter a damaged teenage girl called Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen), who’s family was taken from her, and who seems to be desperately seeking a new one in any way she can. Along with this trio we also encounter a number of peripheral characters to root for, whose stories all converge at the end of the season.
Every episode will have you feeling something. This ranges from joy, outrage, anxiety, and excitement – sometimes all at once. Sweet Tooth expertly makes use of cliffhangers to have you clicking that “next episode” button in a desperate frenzy at the end of every one.
Add to this the shows gorgeous setting – landscapes filled with mountains, rivers, and fields of flowers dominate the scenery – and some, admittedly strange-looking animal human hybrids, and you’ve got yourself a striking show on which to feast the eyes.
So, if you thought this show was just going to be another dystopian fantasy show for kids, you may want to reevaluate. Sweet Tooth will have even cynical adults wondering what our world, and the people in it, would look like if faced with an even deadlier pandemic and its own hybrid children (even if we have yet to learn the details about how these children happen in the first place).
Sweet Tooth will be joining the ranks of other Netflix series who have acquired a fanbase of viewers marking off the days until the release of their next seasons. If you found yourself unexpectedly gripped by shows like the Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things, Sweet Tooth should be on your watch list.