Given our current state of living in a pandemic where new mutations of the virus are coming about, keeping us bound to our houses, this post-apocalyptic story draws us in and keeps us gripped. I have tried to keep this review as spoiler free as possible but you will see a few important plot points that could serve as spoilers. Writer’s warning : Tread carefully!
Based on a DC comic series of the same title, Sweet Tooth is a 2021 Netflix Short Series that narrates the story of a young animal-human mutant (hybrid) boy Gus (aka Sweet Tooth) and his adventures with Big Man (aka Tommy Jeppard) to find his mother, Birdie. Gus and many other hybrids like him are born around the time when the world was suddenly hit by a huge pandemic that wiped out most of the human race by giving them The Sick, a virus that rapidly spread throughout the entire human population and left animals and other creatures to spare. The symptom of this virus is literally what its name suggests, people falling sick but what is most peculiar about this virus is that it causes the affected person to have a constantly writhing pinky finger. There is obviously no cure for it yet but because this virus is highly contagious, no one trusts anyone and there is havoc.
Plot & Characters
In order to understand the story better, taking into note the sheer amount of characters with their own story going on throughout the show, we can look at the series as if it were an anthology, a puzzle that is pieced together bit by bit in the season finale.
First, there is Gus and his Pubba. Gus is a young deer-human hybrid who is the cutest little boy in the entire world. Pubba, his father, is seen packing his belongings and leaving for the woods in The Yellowstone Park to save Gus and hide him from potential threat when The Great Crumble, aka The Sick starts spreading widely throughout the world. With his little dear ears that hear everything and his huge antlers that never fit any sweatshirt, Gus has spent 9 years living in the forest in a house Pubba made for them with everything that he could ask for!
Then there is Dr. Aditya Singh and his wife Rani. He is working at the hospital when suddenly The Sick rages around like wildfire and all patients are rushed to the hospital. With no clue as to what this virus is and no idea of how to control it, Dr. Singh comes in contact with many patients who have The Sick. He is unaffected by the virus though, the reason for it is unknown. On his way around the hospital he comes to the maternity ward. What he witnesses blows our mind and his. He sees a room full of animal-human mutant babies all born around the same time as The Great Crumble. The humans initially believed that it was nature healing itself and bringing a new generation of children that are able to survive The Sick. Dr. Singh is in a dilemma when his wife gets The Sick and he has to make a choice whether to pick his ethics over her life and to save her by finding a cure to the virus.
We also have Aimee Eden, a couples therapist who was so tired of her mundane life that she was relieved when she had to be locked up inside her office for months together before the first wave of the pandemic wiped out a lot of the humans. When the chaos has calmed down she is finally set free from the confines of her office. She runs wildly into the open only to find a stranded zoo where she decides to dwell, alone. Her world turns around when someone leaves a pig-human hybrid baby, Wendy, outside the zoo. Finding a new purpose for her life with Wendy, Aimee secretly makes the zoo a preserve where people who did not want their hybrid children dead, could leave them with her to look after. Wendy finds a squirrel human mutant and many other mutant children to play with while Aimee on the other hand is alert with her guard up, ever fearing the danger that is about to unfold.
As time passed, humans dwindled due to The Sick and the ones that were left behind believed that these hybrids are what caused The Sick. Humans formed an army called The Last Men, who were, in fact, the last of the men. These men were in-charge of killing any hybrid they saw. Gus and Pubba on the other hand lived a very basic life but as Gus grew up so did his questions. It became very complicated for Pubba to answer them all which made Gus angry and rebellious. He went about roaming the forest to look for his mother, who Gus believed was a deer. At 10 years old, Gus is lonely when he breaks the only rule his Pubba left for him, to never cross the fence. A couple of ‘Last Men’ see him but he is met with an Ex Last Man – Tommy Jeppard (aka Big Man) who kills the two men and saves Gus giving him the nickname Sweet Tooth because of his constant habit of slurping maple syrup. Jeppard was a footballer who is on his way to live however long he can as now he has no purpose in life since he lost his wife and his newborn during The Great Crumble. There is no clarity if they are dead or alive, they just went missing from the hospital. Gus starts following Big Man and is on a mission to find his Mama, (aka Birdie) who, according to his late Pubba, lives in Colorado.
Then we have the Animal Army with Bear as their leader. The Animal Army believes that they need to save the hybrids from the Last Men and their leader General Abbott. As they are the last human children who are all orphaned, they become hunters that hunt down The Last Men using astonishing guerilla tactics. Bear is one of those that believes that hybrids are the future and nature’s way of healing from The Sick. It is her mission to protect them. On meeting Gus, she is reminded of her sister so she goes on with Gus and Big Man on their journey to find Birdie with a hope to find something that was taken away from her. All these characters are the crumbs that are spread out through the first season only to somehow piece together in the finale.
Performances, Cinematography and Screenplay
The show saw amazing performances by all characters but very few stood out. Will Forte as Pubba was delightful to watch. He is the ideal father figure who I wish we get to see more of in flashbacks as this story continues in seasons to come. Watching Christian Convery as Gus like being on a joyride. He is the literal definition of curiosity and his questions were extremely fascinating and he unknowingly made everyone around him love him to an extent that they wanted to protect him from all harm.
Dania Ramirez as Aimee Eden was a silent badass and a marvel waiting to happen. She is one of the characters that I did not expect to come out so beautifully in the season finale. Watching Nonso Anozie As Big Man made my heart melt. Adeel Akhtar As Dr. Aditya Singh is a simple doctor who is like that one person who wants to stay away from drama at all costs but is put right in the middle of it. Watching him stumble through his troubles while being calm and composed is blissful. Listening to James Brolin narrate the story makes it feel like there is a Morgan Freeman-esque aura reading your favourite bedtime story to you.
The screenplay is one of the very beautiful parts of the sh0w. Watching the camera pan out into the beautiful aerial shots when the title card was on-screen made me want to screen grab one from every single episode. Watching all the hybrids with their distinct animal features was very endearing. It gave all of them character even though they did not have many dialogues and qualifies this show as something that one can enjoy with their family. With enough time given for each character to open up and show us their story, this show will seem slow initially but the slow start is worth it by the end where you will wish there were another episode.
Personal Opinion, Season Ending and Expectations from Season 2
I have tried my best to keep spoilers at bay so far but I just can’t hold it in me anymore. On a random Monday when I had nothing to fill in the white noise while working I started playing this show hoping it would keep me motivated to work. I just did not realize when I stopped working and gave all of my attention to this story about a scientific experiment of a boy, Gus coming to life. I just loved this show from the start-up to the ending. I have always been a sucker for shows like this where children are characters that drive the plot because it is just less drama and I liked the show so much that I had tears in my eyes by the end. This does not say much about the show as I cry a lot anyway but, it does say that this show makes you wish people were compassionate and keeps you rooting for all the little hybrid babies. The way this story links all the characters to one another makes you wonder. The ending had me hollering and cheering for Aimee because she is the big baddie who blew up the Last Men like it was the fourth of July and she is going to save everything. I really cried so hard when I thought Big Man was dead but you wanna guess what? Aimee saved him too! I just love how everything pans out so well when Dr. Singh sees Gus and just cannot kill him because he is Indian and Indians have a God in the form of every animal, even a deer. So cute! Aimee is my hero and in Gus and Wendy I trust to make the best hybrid team leaders ever!
Closing with a line from Aimee that resonated with me a lot. “They’re better than us, better than you or me, they are the good part of us, without the complications. Nature does not want us back. We did not give her a good reason to keep us around in the first place.” It shows why us humans do not deserve to live on Earth because we have everything but compassion. Aimee, show them, make them pay good!
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.