Sweet Tooth (TV series)
Sweet Tooth is an American fantasy drama streaming television series developed by Jim Mickle. It is based on the comic book of the same name by Jeff Lemire and premiered on Netflix on June 4, 2021.
|Based on||Sweet Tooth|
by Jeff Lemire
|Developed by||Jim Mickle|
|Music by||Jeff Grace|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Production location||New Zealand|
|Running time||37–53 minutes|
|Original release||June 4, 2021|
Ten years ago "The Great Crumble", a viral pandemic, wiped out most of the world's human population and led to the mysterious emergence of hybrid babies born part human, part animal.
Unsure if hybrids are the cause or result of the virus, many humans fear and hunt them. Gus, a half-deer hybrid, lives in the wilderness with his father – who dies when Gus is nine years old. Gus discovers a box buried by his father beneath a tree; the box contains what Gus believes is a photograph of his mother, with the word "Colorado" written on it.
A year after his father's death, Gus sets a fire before deciding to leave his and his father's spot in the wilderness to find his mother. The fire alerts nearby hunters to his location, and they try to murder Gus for sport. However, Gus speaks, and the hunters are visibly surprised. They are soon killed by Tommy Jepperd, a lone traveller, who afterwards tries to leave Gus behind except that Gus follows him. Gus insists Jepperd escort him to his mother in Colorado. Jepperd resists, but ends up protecting Gus as the latter won't leave him alone.
- Nonso Anozie as Tommy Jepperd, a traveler and reformed Last Man who saves Gus from poachers and reluctantly accompanies Gus on his journey to find his mother. Gus refers to him as "Big Man". He was a famous professional football player before the apocalypse.
- Christian Convery as Gus, a sheltered and naive 10-year-old half-human, half-deer boy who wants to find his mother. Tommy refers to Gus as "Sweet Tooth" due to his obsession with candies.
- Adeel Akhtar as Dr. Aditya Singh, a doctor who is desperate to find the cure for the H5G9 virus also known as the Sick in order to cure his infected wife Rani.
- Stefania LaVie Owen as Bear, the leader and founder of the Animal Army who saves hybrids. It is later revealed that her name is Rebecca "Becky" Walker.
- Dania Ramirez as Aimee Eden, a former therapist who creates a safe haven for hybrids called the Preserve.
- Aliza Vellani as Rani Singh, Dr. Aditya Singh's wife who has the Sick.
- James Brolin as narrator.
- Will Forte as Pubba, Gus' father who raised him in a secluded cabin in Yellowstone National Park to protect him from the outside world of hatred towards hybrids. It is later revealed that his name is Richard Fox. He was a janitor at Fort Smith Labs in Goss Grove, Colorado.
- Sarah Peirse as Dr. Gladys Bell, a doctor who is dying of cancer and leaves her research of finding a cure for the Sick to Dr. Singh. It is later revealed that she does not have cancer, but is refusing to continue her research, much to General Abbot's dismay.
- Neil Sandilands as General Abbot, the leader of the Last Men who hunts hybrids. It is later revealed that his first name is Douglas.
- Naledi Murray as Wendy, Aimee's adopted hybrid daughter who is half-pig and half-human. Aimee often refers to her as "Pigtail". She is the biological daughter of Bear's foster parents.
- Amy Seimetz as Birdie, a woman who Gus assumes is his mother. It is later revealed that her first name is Gertrude. She was a geneticist at Fort Smith Labs.
This section's plot summaries may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2021)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Prod.|
|1||"Out of the Deep Woods"||Jim Mickle||Jim Mickle||June 4, 2021||T15.10153|
|Doctor Aditya Singh goes to work one day and discovers a deadly virus is taking over the world. At the same time, hybrid children start being born that are half-human and half-animal, with no one agreeing which came first, the virus or the hybrids. Meanwhile, before the collapse of society known as the Great Crumble, a father runs away into Yellowstone National Park with his deer hybrid baby, Gus. Dr. Singh discovers the symptom of the Sick is an uncontrollable shaking pinky finger and rushes to the hospital to save his wife Rani who has the symptom. Gus' father, over many years, builds a secure base in the deep woods and is referred to by Gus as "Pubba". Pubba is constantly afraid of the outside world. But as Gus grows so does his curiosity about it, and one day he steps outside the fence to venture after the deer he believes is his "mother", despite Pubba's warnings about the outside world being fire and telling him that his mother is gone. Later, a man claiming to be looking for his sister arrives at the fence and tells Pubba that everyone in the outside world thinks the hybrids are responsible for the Sick which still exists after 10 years. After hiding Gus, Pubba kills the man but also contracts the Sick which quickly kills him. In his frustration, Gus starts a daytime fire which attracts the attention of poachers who lay a candy trap that Gus easily falls for. Gus, however, is quickly saved by Tommy Jepperd who Gus calls "Big Man". While distrusting of Big Man at first, Gus eventually lays out a plan with a map and a picture to find his mother in Colorado and chases after Big Man to seek the latter's help on his adventure.|
|2||"Sorry About All the Dead People"||Jim Mickle||Jim Mickle & Beth Schwartz||June 4, 2021||T13.22302|
|The narrator introduces Aimee, who was a therapist before the Great Crumble and who barricaded herself in her office for weeks during the fallout. When she eventually emerges into the deserted city, she is passed by a stampede of elephants and is inspired to go to the Zoo which she makes her home. Gus persistently follows Big Man and insists Big Man take him to Colorado. Big Man gets angry when Gus eats all of his food and his medicine, the latter of which Gus says is horrible candy, but Gus leads them to a Visitor's Center from where he can smell food. At the Center they find living there a couple and their human son not much older than Gus. After being recognized as a former Last Man by the mother through the branding on his chest, Big Man insists that he only wants to stay one night to wait out the storm and don't want trouble. The father also recognizes Big Man as a former pro football player. Dr. Singh temporarily treats the Sick in Rani through experimental medicine provided by Dr. Bell. When he goes for a refill he discovers that Dr. Bell wants him to take over her work as she is dying from terminal cancer. She has noted down all of her findings in a book, but her gruesome work goes against everything Dr. Singh believes in. Big Man begins to think the family at the Center may be better company for Gus. But soon the Center is attacked by Last Men who Big Man kills with a bear trap, and the family asks Big Man and Gus to leave for fear their family might become collateral damage. Big Man and Gus continue on to the next town. Aimee discovers a hybrid pig baby outside the Zoo.|
|3||"Weird Deer S**t"||Alexis Ostrander||Michael R. Perry||June 4, 2021||T13.22303|
|Gus and Big Man continue on foot to the Market where there is a train that will take Gus to Colorado. Big Man disguises Gus as a human so they can get him on the train, but while purchasing him a ticket Gus wanders off and meets a young girl in the Market who comforts him when he panics. Dr. Singh takes over for Dr. Bell and starts working with the Last Men who provide him with supplies. He and Rani reluctantly attend a party where the host Doug is discovered to be infected. The house where the party was at is set on fire with Doug inside it to prevent the spread of the Sick. As he is about to board the train, Gus smells Big Man's medicine among the boxes being loaded, so they steal the supplies but are caught and Gus is exposed as a hybrid. The Last Men, while transporting Big Man and Gus through the forest, are ambushed by teenagers dressed as animals who kill the Last Men and rescue Gus and Big Man. The leader dressed as a Bear reveals herself as the girl from the Market. General Abbot is informed that "she has been found".|
|4||"Secret Sauce"||Toa Fraser||Justin Boyd & Haley Harris||June 4, 2021||T13.22304|
|Bear instructs the group to shoot Big Man, but Gus protests, shocking the group with his ability to speak. Bear changes her mind about killing Jepperd, much to the displeasure of Tiger. Bear introduces Gus to their home in an abandoned theme park and tells him about how she is the leader of the Animal Army that has vowed to protect hybrids at all costs. The group gives Gus many things, like candy, and allows him to drive go-karts, while Tiger continues to pressure Bear on why they haven't killed Jepperd yet. Bear says she wants to understand why Gus is protecting a poacher. The doctor continues to try to make medicine for his wife who has the illness, but is unsuccessful as he needs a live hybrid. The couple's nosey neighbor Nancie tells the Singhs she wants to hold a citizen's vote on mandatory virus-testing every week, worrying Dr. Singh who fears Rani will be exposed. Aimee raises the hybrid baby "Pigtail" as her own in the city zoo, scavenging and avoiding Last Men. One night, Aimee fears an intruder is in the building, but Pigtail reveals that it is her friend Bobby, an animal who can speak, and asks Aimee if they can keep him. Bear reveals to Gus that Big Man was once a Last Man and has hurt hybrids, but Gus doesn't care as he says Big Man is his friend, countering that the Animal Army has hurt people as well. At the execution of Big Man, Bear reveals she will not carry out the execution as it would hurt Gus. This leads to a coup led by Tiger who tries to proceed with the execution of Jepperd. Big Man and Gus escape, with Bear following as she abandons the Animal Army. Nancie discovers Rani has the Sick and plans to expose her, but as they argue in front of the Singhs' house she is kicked to death by their horse. The Singhs hide her body.|
|5||"What's in the Freezer?"||Robyn Grace||Christina Ham||June 4, 2021||T13.22305|
|General Abbot confronts Dr. Bell about her faking a terminal illness and demands to know the location of her notebook. She tells him she has left it with her replacement, Dr. Singh, and that the hybrids are just children who will be here long after the human race is gone. General Abbot has Dr. Bell executed. Jepperd thanks Gus for having his back at the Animal Army camp and says he will accompany him to Colorado. Bear finds Gus and Big Man and gives them Birdie's last known address. Bear also shows them a path to the railway for the train to Colorado, but the path goes through a Valley of Sorrows populated by the purple flowers that accompany the Sick. Gus, fed up with their continuous bickering throughout the journey, ventures out onto the rickety bridge that crosses the Valley of Sorrows. He falls into the purple flowers. Aimee and Pig Tail continue to build the Preserve for hybrids, but Pig Tail is discouraged she isn't as animal as the rest of the hybrids. The Last Men find and tag the Preserve. While unconscious, Gus encounters Pubba who tells him to be brave, that other hybrids are counting on him, and that the whole world will see him soon. Then, in the mirror where Pubba was, he sees General Abbot. Pubba warns him that Abbot is coming, but says Gus is ready now. Big Man and Bear rescue Gus from the flowers and Gus forces them to stop arguing. The Singhs continue to cover up Nancie's disappearance as people in the neighborhood declare her missing. Dr. Singh expects a hybrid delivery in order to save Rani who is deteriorating, but the Last Men deliver a note saying they are out of hybrids. The town discovers Nancie in the freezer, but Dr. Singh tries to convince them Nancie was Sick. Then Rani starts showing symptoms, so the town binds them inside and sets the building aflame. The Last Men and General Abbot save the Singhs.|
|6||"Stranger Danger on a Train"||Jim Mickle||Noah Griffith & Daniel Stewart||June 4, 2021||T13.22306|
|Big Man, Bear, and Gus manage to board the moving train to Colorado but discover it is not a passenger train. The Singhs bluff that Dr. Singh is working on a cure that is not detailed in the book in order to convince General Abbot that he must spare both of their lives. On the train, Big Man encounters a friend and former pro football player named Jimmy "Fat Man" Jacobs who he initially fights in order to protect Gus before he recognizes him. Gus is distraught over the loss of his stuffed animal Dog that his Pubba made him and wanders off from the group. Aimee realizes they have been found by the Last Men and that the Preserve is no longer safe. While looking for Gus, Jimmy asks about Jepperd's wife, unborn child, and other friends who have all passed from the Sick. Jimmy also provides information about the location of Gus' mother Birdie, but neglects to mention that Last Men members are aboard the train. Big Man saves Dog for Gus by pretending to be a Last Man but blows his cover, so Jimmy holds the door for the group so they can jump off the train. Jimmy then fights the Last Men and is presumably killed for his efforts. Aimee, Wendy (aka Pig Tail), and the other Preserve hybrids pack and escape through the tunnels with Aimee remaining behind. Big Man, Gus, and Bear reach Essex County, with Big Man offering to Bear that she can stay with him and Gus if she wants.|
|7||"When Pubba Met Birdie"||Toa Fraser||Beth Schwartz||June 4, 2021||T13.22307|
|A flashback to an expedition to Alaska reveals something discovered in the ice rods which is packed up and shipped to Fort Smith Science Research where Pubba is shown to be working as a janitor. Pubba one day encounters Birdie in a bar where he reveals his name is Richard and apologizes for eavesdropping on her earlier conversation with Judy. Birdie reveals she is a geneticist and is upset because she was working on an important project but is now being transferred to a different department. Birdie tells Richard that she found a unique microbe for a vaccine that they have been testing on chicken eggs which could either save the world or go disastrously wrong, depending on the execution. Richard walks Birdie home where she invites him in. They grow close and almost kiss, but she gets a call saying the military is taking over the lab. Richard offers to assist her in breaking in to rescue her project. Gus, Bear, and Big Man get to Birdie's address only to discover that only Judy, Birdie's former coworker, lives there and that Birdie left 10 years ago to look for Gus. In a flashback, Birdie shows Richard the unexpected outcome from their project, which is the baby Gus. The name "Gus" stands for Genetic Unit Series. Richard distracts the military personnel long enough for Birdie to escape with Gus, but Birdie later asks Richard to take Gus so she can return to the lab to destroy her research. In the present, Gus goes through Birdie's files and is confused until Big Man finally tells him, based off the files, that he was created by scientists in a lab. Gus is devastated that he doesn't have any real parents and angrily runs into the woods.|
|8||"Big Man"||Jim Mickle||Jim Mickle||June 4, 2021||T13.22308|
|Flashbacks show that when the Great Crumble began, Big Man nearly abandoned his hybrid baby. He eventually changed his mind but before he could get back to his wife and son, the Last Men already took them. In the present, Gus finds an abandoned plane and uses its radio; believing that he is talking to the Preserve, he inadvertently gives his location to the Last Men army. Aimee fights against General Abbot and his Last Men army. She is able to escape, but the hybrids she cared for are captured. General Abbot captures Singh and Rani as well and forces Singh to begin working on a cure for The Sick. Big Man finds Gus and sits with him; however, the Last Men arrive, shoot Big Man unconscious, and capture Gus. Aimee arrives and retrieves Big Man's body, takes him back to her hideout and nurses him back to health. It is revealed that Aimee has been intercepting free-to-air radio communications of the Last Men army. When Big Man awakens, Aimee tells him to continue resting and declares that they will get their children back by whatever means. Back at the cabin, Bear recalls her childhood memories, revealing that Pig Tail was her foster sister, and also remembers when her family was taken by the Last Men. She later receives a communication from a phone and answers it, as the person on the other line is revealed to be Birdie, hiding in an Arctic area with her research.|
On November 16, 2018, it was announced that streaming service Hulu had given a pilot order to a potential television series adaptation of the comic book series. The pilot was expected to be written and directed by Jim Mickle who was also set to executive produce alongside Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Amanda Burrell and Linda Moran. Production companies involved with the pilot were slated to consist of Team Downey and Warner Bros. Television. On April 9, 2020, it was announced that the series had been moved from Hulu to Netflix. On May 12, 2020, Netflix had given the production a series order that consists of eight episodes with Evan Moore attached to the series as a producer and Beth Schwartz served as a writer, an executive producer, and co-showrun alongside Mickle. The series was released on June 4, 2021.
Lemire has acknowledged that the series has a lighter tone than the comic book series, stating that he and Mickle wanted the series to bring a new perspective to the post-apocalyptic genre after what they believed to be an oversaturation of dark dystopian fiction released since the original comic was published.
On May 12, 2020, Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, and Will Forte were cast in starring roles while James Brolin is set to narrate the series. On July 30, 2020, Dania Ramirez joined the main cast. On August 19, 2020, Neil Sandilands was cast in an undisclosed capacity. On September 30, 2020, Stefania LaVie Owen joined the cast in a starring role. On November 2, 2020, Aliza Vellani was promoted to series regular ahead of the series premiere.
In July 2020, New Zealand granted the series permission to film, despite the recent travel restrictions due to the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on television. On September 30, 2020, it was reported that the series had resumed filming after the COVID-19 pandemic halted production months earlier, with filming concluding around mid-December 2020.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 98% based on 54 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.96/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Emotionally engaging, superbly acted, and incredibly entertaining, Sweet Tooth will satisfy fantasy fans of all ages." Metacritic gave the series a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on 18 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Reviewing the series for Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall gave a rating of 3.5/5 and said, "Whether Gus and friends are having scary adventures or fun ones, those parts of Sweet Tooth are full of life, and as exciting or tense as needed. The show can be hit or miss, though, when it moves away from Gus." In her review of the series, Lucy Mangan of The Guardian gave the series 3 out of 5 stars, saying "Sweet Tooth is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part whimsy, part cold-eyed realism and most points in between. It is either warmly eccentric or hysterically crazy, perfect entertainment or a horrifying attempt to parlay the pandemic into a commercially palatable mashup. It is undoubtedly aimed at a younger-than-full-adult audience." Daniel D'Addario of Variety also gave the series a positive review, writing "Throughout, the show is made with a surprising degree of curiosity about what changes in society would look like across varying sorts of communities, and with a capacious imagination to boot. And while it envisions a world transformed by illness and pain, "Sweet Tooth" feels fundamentally light of touch and, well, sweet of intention. Its pandemic-riven world has been torn apart, to be sure, and in the wake comes dissension — but kindness and connection, too. Change provides the opportunity for grand-scale reimagining of what life can look like or be, as well as small opportunities to come into one's own — to find one's humanity, even when wearing deer antlers."
Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com wrote in his review that "Netflix's brilliant "Sweet Tooth" may not be a direct commentary on what the world has been through in the last year, but the presence of that real-world echo is undeniable. It's a show about a devastating virus that leads people to distrust one another, go into hiding, allow their fear to drive their decisions, and ultimately form unexpected bonds. It's about isolation and grief, but it is also very much about the unpredictable connections that can end up defining us. It's intense, riveting storytelling that recalls the spirit of Amblin almost more than the nostalgia warehouse that is "Stranger Things," the king of Netflix Originals. It would have been excellent television in any year, but "Sweet Tooth" strikes a different chord in 2021 than anyone could have expected." Ben Travers of Indiewire gave the series a B- and wrote "The series' efficient storytelling, world-building, and character work make it easy to switch off your brain and enjoy the adventure (that is, if you can get past The Sick). Strong performances help, too, and with so many critical core ingredients working smoothly, it's much easier for a genial little fantasy-adventure series to go down easy. "Sweet Tooth" may not offer a full meal, but sometimes all you need is a good piece of chocolate." Samantha Nelson of Polygon praised the series and wrote "The COVID-19 pandemic devastated some communities, while others seemed to entirely deny its existence. Sweet Tooth combines an examination of that inequality with the morals of other excellent post-apocalyptic stories, like 28 Days Later and Mad Max: Fury Road, which argue that survival is not enough to keep people functioning. The villains in Sweet Tooth are the ones who cling to a world that no longer exists, while the heroes try to build something better with the help of their found family. Sweet Tooth's subject matter might seem too bleak for the current era, but its timeliness also empowers the show's message of hope and shared strength."
On July 20, 2021, Netflix revealed that the series has been watched by 60 million of households since its June 4 release.
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