Comic Book Curious

The Success of Sweet Tooth on Netflix

August 5, 2021

After a year of real-life pandemic horror, you would think a show that revolves around a devastating illness would hit too hard or be unwatchable. Somehow, that is not the case with the graphic-novel-turned-Netflix-series Sweet Tooth. I think the show resonates with people because it highlights hope in the face of terrible devastation. Not everyone gets the illness and dies, and so there is still hope for a vaccine and an eventual return to normalcy.

The cover for the reimagined story of Sweet Tooth

Credit: DC Comics

The main character of the show is a young hybrid named Gus. Hybrids, born around the same time when people start dying of “The Sick”, are human-animal mixes. Gus has antlers and ears like a deer, but there are many different varieties/combinations. Gus was raised by his father in the woods, far from civilization. He was taught to avoid people and to never leave the fenced-in area his father had created. However, after his father catches the Sick from some would-be poachers, Gus is left alone and sets out to follow his own path.

Some characters are irredeemable. Others are much more complex than that. One such character Gus meets is Jeppard. Jeppard has a checkered past doing some terrible things to survive. He moves past that and tries, after much convincing and in his own way, to help Gus. Gus and Jeppard eventually meet Bear, who at first is ready to kill Jeppard for being an adult and his previous affiliations. However Gus's reaction to both her and Jeppard sway her views. Eventually, she, too, becomes a member of their party.

An image of Gus traveling with Bear and Jeppard.

Credit: Netflix

There are many layers to the show. On one level we have a devastating illness with a very high death rate. The end, we learn later in the show, may not be that far away; but the moral repercussions may be too high. On another level, we have a journey of self-discovery; Gus learns about the world around him. He learns that not everyone is trustworthy or has his best interests at heart. It isn't just his journey of self-discovery that the audience gets to see. Jeppard, Bear, and Aimee, a woman who creates a safe place for hybrids, all grow throughout the show.

We also see what happens when there is a power vacuum and what kind of person, (the villainous General Abbot) steps up to take control. Because this is a show about hope and self-discovery, the audience has an easy time resonating and relating with the characters. The show reminds you that no matter how bad things get, it can be turned around. You can make better decisions or you can help someone out. You can be a better person or help someone else be a better person. It is all about your choices and actions and the effect they have on the world around you.

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