Review: 'Sweet Tooth' hits a sweet spot of smart, timely and relevant
In development for years, Netflix series manages to hit on a number of our current societal issues.
It is both mystifying and somehow fitting that one of the more cogent commentaries on our current messy mix of pandemics and politics revolves around a boy with antlers growing out of his head.
You want amoral righteousness? “Sweet Tooth” has got it. Parallels to American racism? Got those aplenty. Decency trampled by hysteria? Check. A deadly disease ravaging society? Of course. There’s even a fight over masking.
And in the midst of all this is a sweet tween boy named Gus who does indeed have antlers growing out of his head. In some future, just as a pandemic starts killing off people, another odd thing happens; women start having hybrid babies. Raccoon boy, turtle girl, things like that.
This upsets the humans who haven’t already died. Their way of life is being threatened. Sound familiar?
As a baby Gus is taken to live in the wilderness by his father (Will Forte). Papa sets strict rules, keeping Gus (a wide-eyed Christian Convery) isolated, safe and more than a bit uninformed. As he grows, Gus eventually decides to step out of the wilderness. He has a picture of his mother and thinks she lives in Colorado; he’ll go there.
He immediately realizes hybrids are being hunted, but is rescued by the enormous Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie). An odd couple is born and they hit the road.
At the same time the show is following a doctor (Adeel Akhtar) who’s taken refuge in a “safe” suburb and a woman (Dania Ramirez) who’s turned an abandoned zoo into a refuge for hybrids. And after a while a fierce orphan girl (Stefania LaVie Owen) joins up with Gus and Tommy.
What’s amazing is the comic book this is all based on came out in 2009 and the show was being worked on years before our current situation.
What’s even more impressive is the delicate balance between the laughable and the distressing here. “Sweet Tooth” has some serious and timely bite.
Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.