There’s so much content being released these days it’s tough to keep track of what’s good and what isn’t worth your time. One thing that can help a project stand out above another is a nice, solid recommendation and has io9 got one for you: Netflix’s adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s DC comic Sweet Tooth. It’s phenomenal.
Sweet Tooth begins streaming this Friday, June 4, with all eight episodes of its first season (of many, we hope). It’s based on the 2009 DC Comic series written and drawn by Lemire that focuses on a young hybrid deer boy. Curiously enough, the show feels more relevant now than ever... because it’s also about a global pandemic. Now, before you run off into the hills thinking “The last thing I want to watch after a year avoiding a deadly disease is a show about a deadly disease,” know that Sweet Tooth tells that story in a wholly different way.
Sweet Tooth starts out simply with a dad taking his baby son to live in the woods. A baby! Cute, right? But he’s doing it to get away from the horrors of the world and soon we realize there’s another layer as well: the baby is a hybrid, part human-part deer. He’s one of many who was mysteriously born once the pandemic began—and as a result, some people think the hybrids caused it. Others think the hybrids will end it. But this father doesn’t want to wait and find out. Starting there, Sweet Tooth instantly lives up to its name. It’s incredibly sweet. The father (played with a desperate yearning by Will Forte) raises his son named Gus (Christian Convery, who is so natural in the role you’ll forget he’s not completely human) with only the resources of the woods. Through this relationship, we’re immediately connected to this family and, like them, mostly oblivious to what’s happening outside.
Of course, that can’t last forever, and eventually, Gus leaves and tags along with a famous (and of course former) football player named Tommy Jepperd (Game of Thrones’ Nonso Anozie, who is intimidating and scary with a layer of lovable). The last thing Tommy wants is another mouth to feed, so his relationship with Gus isn’t instantly great, but that, again, leaves a lot of room for things to blossom. And blossom they do. Not just in Gus’s relationships, but in the way the world begins to expand. As Gus learns, so do we; about “the sick,” as the characters call it, doctors who are trying to fight it, other hybrids who have similar stories to Gus, the people trying to help them, and those trying to stop them.
There are also, unfortunately, a lot of violent people who do not take kindly to strangers, especially hybrids, mostly out of fear. Others are just looking to hold a place of power in this new world order. After the mostly contained pilot, each subsequent episode of Sweet Tooth expands even more with new characters and tangents, all of which begin to add up in a satisfying way. Ultimately you realize this world doesn’t feel like our world—it’s much, much worse. This works because the show always keeps that sweet center in Gus, the lovable, naive, brave boy, who we see the story unfold through.
It should be said, Sweet Tooth isn’t some little tiny budget anomaly. It’s produced by Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr. Would Iron Man put his name on a piece of crap? (Don’t answer that.) Their production team, Team Downey, worked at every step with showrunners Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz to craft a show that’s both recognizable but also epic. They shot in New Zealand, which gives Sweet Tooth some massive Lord of the Rings vibes when Gus ventures out into the world (and what a world it is, as viewers are treated to truly gorgeous and cinematically filmed vistas). The costumes, sets, and action scenes follow suit; all of them work in tandem to build an impressive, hard-to-describe tone, which somehow is a bullseye that hits family-friendly, high fantasy, comic book movie, and survival thriller all at once.
Basically what we’re saying is, if you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, or anytime after that, Sweet Tooth is the new show to fall head over heels for. It’s got something for everyone and we think it has the potential to break out in ways only a very select few streaming shows do. Stay tuned to io9, we’ll have more on Sweet Tooth in the coming days.
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