CultureHead Magazine

Image via Netflix
Image via Netflix

Sweet Tooth, based on the comic book series of the same name, is a charming fantasy drama series that highlights the importance of found family narratives. The show is set in a sort-of apocalyptic world where a viral pandemic called “The Sick” has ravaged a good portion of the population, following which most of the babies born are half-human and half-animal. These “hybrids” are treated with fear and suspicion and are often the target of hunters.

It’s a pretty unique premise, showcasing the best and worst of humanity: their will to survive, adapt and form supportive communities, along with their prejudices, blind hatred, and predatory instincts. Much of the story follows 10-year-old Gus (Christian Convery), an inquisitive half-deer hybrid boy with a fondness for candies (hence “Sweet Tooth”) who is raised in the wilderness by “Pubba” his father.

After Pubba dies, Gus discovers a briefcase with a photo of a woman (that he thinks is his mother) with “Colorado” written on the back of it, and he decides to find her on his own. He is soon attacked by poachers and saved by Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), a traveling ex-hunter, and the duo form an unlikely alliance.

There are two other storylines that slowly converge with the main plot- that of Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar), who is forced to make uncomfortable decisions to find a cure for his wife Rani, who is infected with the Sick, and the story of Aimee Eden (Dania Ramirez), a therapist who rescues hybrids and turns an old zoo into a safe haven for them. Dr. Singh’s storyline emphasizes how fearful and desperate humans have become, even as they strive to maintain a façade of normalcy. Those suspected of the Sick are strapped in plastic and set on fire, along with their homes, and neighbors may turn on each other in a bid to keep themselves safe.

Image via Netflix

But the bond between Gus, Tommy, and Bear/Becky (a spunky teenager who founded the “Animal Army” and saved hybrids, and is later turned out by her community) is built on mutual trust and interdependence. Tommy was a professional football player before the pandemic forced him to lose his job, and he became a hunter or a “Last Man” to make ends meet. He initially plans to leave Gus at the train station but gradually rethinks his priorities.

Similarly, Becky (Stefania LaVie Owen) distrusts Tommy on account of his past until she realizes that everyone deserves a second chance and can do better, and Gus’s naïve optimism and confidence instill her with hope. Meanwhile, isolated Aimee discovers a new purpose to life by raising hybrid kids, even as she tries to shelter them from the machinations of humans.

In the end, the show teaches that civilization cannot continue without forming and relying on communities. But not all communities are supportive, inclusive, or open-minded, and sometimes one has to travel far away to find their tribe. With a beautiful and engaging storyline, Sweet Tooth (now streaming on Netflix) is a reminder that families aren’t always bound by blood, and life isn’t all about reaching a destination but about the friends we make along the way.

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