The 2021 Netflix show ‘Sweet Tooth’ is adapted from the comic-series of the same name written & illustrated by Jeff Lemire. Comic-book enthusiasts familiar with Lemire’s work know his books tend to have a dark, gloomy tone. However, the live-action series created by Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz is bright, with breathtaking landscape shots of nature’s bounty.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, with the human population drastically reduced due to a deadly pandemic simply referred to as ‘the sick’. Just when the virus started to kill, humans started giving birth to ‘hybrids’, babies that are half-human and half-animal. Our hero is a little boy called Gus, half-deer and half-human, raised by his dad deep in the woods for nine years, with no contact with the outside world. But when ‘the sick’ claims the father’s life, Gus sets out in search of his birth mother. The journey isn’t going to be easy, the new world is ruled by a group called the “Last Men” who hunt and kill hybrids like him.
Christian Convery who plays Gus aka ‘Sweet Tooth’ is the soul of the show, he is a ball of sunshine – so adorable that even bad hulking men melt over by his sunny aura. Nonso Anozie as Jepperd (called ‘Big Man’ by little Gus), is just right for his part as an ominous big-bad-dude who turns guardian to our Sweet Tooth. The duo’s strikingly polar-opposite personalities makes for some really good television. You will have to suspend logical thinking a little to truly enjoy this show. That’s not saying that the show is not intelligent, but it borders on the fantasy genre, so some scenes that take place can only be possible in grand fictional books. Like timely dramatic escapes, animals appearing out of nowhere and well – half-human kids.
There are two more parallel story-lines that run alongside the main plot. The first one is that of Doctor Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar), who finds himself with the burden of finding the cure for ‘the sick’ because his wife Rani (Aliza Vellani) is suffering from it. What most Indian-American viewers would probably appreciate about the Singh story-line is the fact that the couple isn’t forced to put on a weird Indian accent. If you heard them on the radio, you would not be able to tell that they are Indian, which is the case with majority Indian-Americans who are born and raised there.
The second story-line is that of a woman called Aimee (Dania Ramirez), who adopts a hybrid child and runs a conservatory for hybrid children. It’s here that we get a glimpse of more hybrid kids and it serves as a warm complimentary plot-line that is tied up neatly with Sweet Tooth’s journey in the end.
Netflix has landed a winner with this comic-book adaptation, it’s visually stunning and has an adorable line-up for the hybrid kids. Little things like how Sweet Tooth’s deer ears constantly chirp-up are wonders to look at. It’s a little like the ‘The Walking Dead’ meets ‘Peter Rabbit’, you have the doom and gloom of a post-apocalyptic zombie series, but that’s overpowered by the bunny like cuteness of it’s hybrid protagonist Gus and the other characters who’ve managed to create their own isolated but happy corners.
Another bit worth mentioning is the soundtrack in the series, the creative team has picked up some great numbers that sound like they were tailor-made for ‘Sweet Tooth’. Like the 2012 song ‘Dirty Paws’ by the band ‘Of Monsters And Men’, the lyrics are symbolic of the half-deer Gus – “Jumping up and down the floor; my head is an animal”. Adding to the charm is the wise-old throaty voice of James Brolin, who serves as narrator to the series.
The climax is dark, almost cataclysmic and leaves on a cliff-hanger. “Assholes” I exclaimed when the credits rolled in, slightly overwhelmed by an emotional ending involving all the kids and also upset that season one was over and we will have to wait a while before season two comes in. Not fair. Not fair.
Sweet Tooth is beautifully shot and is absolutely binge-worthy. It’s a 8.5/10 from me.
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Listen to episode 35 for a ‘Show Vs Comics’ comparison on ‘Sweet Tooth’