What is the story about?
Gus (Christian Convery) is a part deer part-human hybrid who lives deep into the forest with his father, Richard Fox (Will Forte) who he calls Pubba. The world has been overtaken by chaos after what the humans call 'The Great Crumble'. A deadly virus that humans named "The Sick" spread like wildfire but on the other side, babies were born with wings, fur, antlers and the like. Termed 'hybrids', they were seen, as one character says 'either to be exterminated or experimented'. The series then unravels as Gus's story takes the lead with parallel stories of other hybrid children, an ex-poacher named Jeppard or 'Big Man' and a girl called 'Bear'. Sweet Tooth is based on a DC limited comic book series of the same name by Jeff Lemire.
Sweet Tooth is one of the few 'made-for-children' series that adults can also watch. Mature subjects have been treated with a certain sensitivity even while making the audience gasp in horror. There is a lot of visual symbolism present in the series and one might connect the world of Sweet Tooth to their own reality. While an apocalypse and a pandemic is the "on-the-nose" inference, others like militarization, discrimination, teaching kids to fear and hate those who are different from them are all found in our own newspapers and history books. One of the scenes that imprinted itself on my mind was when a soldier was looking for a certain someone or something and when he heard the sound of a baby crying, he picked up his gun. Certain things like this make you realise that you do not need a made-up world to be shocked or scared, our reality has enough horrors to scare us.
The story comes from the heart of creators who want us to be hopeful. Looking at how Sweet Tooth is targeting people much younger than myself, the series does a good job at making the audience believe in the wonder of hope and kinship even when things look bad. Even adults might be able to take away something from a series that does not necessarily drive into the DC convention of the world only being dipped in shades of grey. Also, continuing on this factor, even those who are not fans of the DC universe will be able to enjoy Sweet Tooth.
Season one of Sweet Tooth presents us with a good cliffhanger that would make audiences want to find out what happens next. There are also certain things that the creators incorporated within the series that were not explained which audiences might have to wait for the next season or more seasons after that to find out. This is just the beginning.
What an absolutely delightful cast. There was not anyone who I thought was limited in any way when it came to their acting prowess. Each one suited their characters perfectly like jigsaw puzzles coming together. Newcomer Christian Convery as Gus was stunning on screen. He felt like an experienced actor well versed in his art form and personalised the hope that Gus defined in Sweet Tooth. Will Forte was wonderful to watch his limited screen time as Gus's father Pubba. Nonso Anozie gave a very strong performance as Jeppard/Big Man, making his presence felt whenever he was onscreen. Stefania LaVie Owen is surely an actress to watch out for because she gives a performance that is as real and authentic as it can be.
Adeel Akhtar as the awkward doctor Aditya Singh along with Aliza Vellani as Rani Singh, the doctor's wife who has The Sick are not out of mind even if they are out of sight, weaving their stories into the narrative beautifully. Dania Ramirez as Aimee gives us a well-balanced performance that does not overwhelm or take over the narrative. Lastly, I would not have perhaps thought of anyone better than James Brolin to be the narrator of Sweet Tooth, bringing in a grandfather like charm and making the series turn into a long lost story dug up from his memory.
Music & Other Departments
To be honest, there wasn't a song that went amiss in Sweet Tooth. I absolutely fell in love with the choice of songs and the way they were placed in the scenes, making them visually more strong than anything else. The songs were more impactful looking at how they chose from bands like "Of Monsters and Men", "BANNERS", "Grateful Dead" among others who brought an old-world fine-tuning to the scenes, especially looking at how the series is based in an apocalyptic world.
Where the series invested in the story and the characters, it fell short in the VFX department. Looking at how Sweet Tooth can well be DC's own version of Marvel's Mutant universe, they should have invested a little bit more in making their made-up world look real onscreen. The sets looked like sets, the tiger looked computer engineered and that can prick you a little, especially because now the audience is used to a cinema where the facade is thought to be the reality.
The narrative style is one of the greater goods of the series and does not really intrude in the viewing process but makes it interesting and engaging. Although I have never read the comics, I am sure that the series has presented itself in such a way that the comics are hardly required. I liked that the Disney feel of the series was disrupted by the sinking reality that it is eventually based in a DC universe and so the 'Black Mirror' feel of it all hits you hard, especially when the narrator says "No rules. No laws. Once the internet went down, it was over". Images are visually striking because even when you are watching a Netflix series based on a comic book, at the back of your head there is this creeping dreadful realization that it may have been and you are quite sure that it has been inspired by our lived reality.
All things considered, Sweet Tooth is more than just a DC series filmed in the Warner Bros Studios but a planned release into a world still recovering from a horrible pandemic. What I disliked is that Netflix banked upon the horrors of an actual virus to release a commercial investment.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes, it was a good watch and rather fresh from the run of the mill Netflix series about teenagers high on hormones.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, give it a watch. It's a family entertainer and I think you'll enjoy it.