Five things to know about Sweet Tooth before watching


(Photo by Kirsty Griffin / © Netflix)

Even if Sweet tooth was originally released by DC Comics’ late Vertigo label, it is a far cry from the Arrowverse superheroes or even the more dysfunctional heroes of HBO Max. In fact, it has nothing to do with this DC world. Instead, it focuses on Gus, 10, a human-deer hybrid child who spent most of his young life in the wilderness under his father’s watchful eye. But when circumstances force him to hit the road with a wanderer named Tommy Jeppard, he discovers that the world beyond his forest is varied, complex, and quite post-apocalyptic. And the new Netflix adaptation of the series starring Christian Convery as Gus and Nonso Anozie as Jeppard follows this aspect of the comic as she paints her world with a whole new brush.

But don’t let that get you down. Vertigo has been a successful label for decades because it produced this kind of surprising and idiosyncratic non-superhero comics. And many surprises await you in its television form – the first season of which is currently Certified 100% Freshness at the Tomatometer. As it turns out, even fans of writer and artist Jeff Lemire’s original comic book will be surprised. So, to prepare old hats for Gus’ journey and newcomers, here are five things to know before you sit down and watch. Sweet tooth with help from Convery, Anozie, Lemire and executive producers Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz.

It takes place in a lush and “pleasant” apocalypse (with the help of the New Zealand landscape)

Sweet tooth

(Photo by Kirsty Griffin / © Netflix)

Despite its post-apocalyptic road movie invite, the series is surprisingly beautiful and lush with lots of vegetation. This is a visual aspect that Mickle wanted to emphasize in the comics as executive producer and director of the initial episode. “[It comes from] the idea of ​​nature and how much humans destroyed it and how Gus represents a return to life in harmony with it, ”he explained. “I had a feeling that once the humans move away, the world is actually going to thrive in a very green, rich and vibrant way. And it became the way to kind of explore the world through Gus’ perspective and how he would view the world the way he grew up.

Part of creating that dynamism was selecting New Zealand to play an overgrown Central America. “It was surreal. It was so majestic and amazing, ”said Convery. “And for me, since I am [playing] a hybrid that is part human and part deer, it really felt like filming in New Zealand also helped me really connect with being both animal and human. Like Gus, Convery walked all of these places with wide eyes, an element of discovery that is reflected in Gus’ journey as each new day brings the character in touch with a new side of the world.

Sweet tooth

(Photo by © Netflix)

Anozie added: “It’s almost prehistoric because it’s so far away from so many places – much of it is untouched. So when you shoot in the great outdoors in the forest, in the rocky mountains, it’s really breathtakingly beautiful and, as an actor, when you get the chance to play your character in those environments, you give that experience away for free. ”While for the actor, who plays a more cynical and morally dubious character, taking this scenery for granted was also part of the job.

And while the series has its dystopian elements – more on that later – Convery said the richness of the location set makes the apocalypse “enjoyable.”

It’s a fairy tale in a way, with a change of tone from the comic book …

According to Convery, the series is truly “a magical adventure with friends saving the world.”

This description may surprise fans of the Lemire comic, which the author described as “a bit more violent and darker, in general”. But as Mickle developed the series alongside Arrow veteran Schwartz, he kept Lemire abreast of the change in tone, which he came to appreciate as doomsday stories became a more prominent television genre in the 10 years after the Sweet tooth comic. “Just doing it over like this might sound like the same thing we’ve seen a thousand times. And so I think reinventing the tone a bit to reflect today rather than where we were just a decade ago was the right move. “

Part of this reinvention is the regular presence of James Brolin’s voice as the invisible narrator. In the first part of the season, he appears to be wrapping up episodes and offering commentary as new characters are introduced. Brolin’s older, relaxed voice definitely sets the tone, though Mickle once again credited Lemire with the notion of narrator. “Jeff uses all the tools in the Toolbox to tell stories: voiceover, elliptical storytelling, poetry, seriality, dreams. He does everything, ”he explained.

In the original comic, that narration could switch between different characters or even an omniscient voice presiding over everything. This latter voice appealed to Mickle because it allowed him to tie Gus and Jeppard’s journey – and their budding bond – to stories of characters they might not meet for some time. “With the nature of it all, it felt like there was a storybook and a fairy tale coming out of the story that we could pull out of the comics. And it was like an opportunity to unify it or to help us get through it. “

Schwartz added: “It also helps set the tone for this fairytale dystopia that we are telling, and it gives it a slight magical element.”

… But there is still room for suburban horror

Sweet tooth

(Photo by © Netflix)

While Gus’ journey has this magic, Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar) faces something more akin to suburban horror. He has memories of the old world and he is surrounded by a tight-knit community trying to preserve some sense of it, creating a dystopian atmosphere with its own forms of terror. Meanwhile, he’s also tasked with researching the disease that led to the fall of civilization – a role he shares with his comic book counterpart.

“I love what they did with Singh,” Lemire said. As he recalled, the comic book Singh was much further along his “path” when he is part of his narrative. “In the comics, we needed him when he’s already on his way, but I’ve never told his origin story so much.” This origin story as presented in the TV series may surprise readers, but according to Lemire, it “gives it such emotional breadth and his relationship with his wife, Rani, is so rich on screen.” He even admitted that he wished he had time to explore the Singhs like the show does. “It’s such a rich story that it’s probably my favorite too,” he added.

But don’t worry about Singh fans or his place in the comics: Lemire said the character would likely find himself in similar circumstances and the suburban horror he faces may change to a different situation. horrible.

His main antagonist will be a familiar voice … even if his face is unrecognizable.

Sweet tooth

(Photo by © Netflix)

Someone who could put Singh on this path is General Abbot, played by an almost unrecognizable Neil Sandilands. He looks more like REM’s Michael Stipe than sophisticated Thinker fans Flash will remember that, but his voice work will be a reminder of the brilliance of that other DC villain. “Everything was the right choice for this part,” said Schwartz.

At the same time, the actor’s chameleon ability to become another person was also advantageous for producers, as it gave the character “to the left of the field” an intriguing new look. Also, as Mickle explained, “that kind of staging quality” came up, which solved a problem they were having with the casting of the part. “[The character] has gravity, but also, your hero is a child with antlers and [deer] ears. So how do you find someone who can match the visual panache of this? “

And so Sandilands gave the character a long beard, which may or may not be the actor’s own locking beard. “When we saw him we thought, whoa, he’s exactly what we didn’t realize we wanted for the character,” Schwartz said.

Of course, it’s important to remember that Abbot is an antagonist and not necessarily a villain in the DC Universe. But her real reasons for finding hybrid kids like Gus will nonetheless chill viewers when it comes to light.

It’s full of hope … and the youngest can watch it too

Sweet tooth

(Photo by © Netflix)

Despite the darkest corners of the world that Singh and Abbot inhabit, the series is meant to be full of hope. “The show really touches your heart in a way that gives you hope and positivity in dark times,” Convery said when asked about his unexpected tone.

For Anozie, there was an added irony in being a part of Sweet tooth in the midst of a pandemic. “I think it is essential to recognize that Sweet tooth was written a decade ago and it’s a coincidence that it helps us identify with it more after going through the pandemic over the past year, ”he said. Nonetheless, he agreed with Convery that he “sends a message of hope [and] that we can do anything if we rely on each other.

This sense of hope definitely gives the show a broader appeal to a younger set of viewers, with Convery saying its sense of adventure makes it “more of a PG to PG 13 situation.” Anozie suggested the show could be watched by viewers as young as 8 or 9 years old, “at the parents’ discretion as to whether those kids can watch”, of course.

Sweet tooth

(Photo by © Netflix)

“We really wanted to make a show that you could watch with your kids,” Schwartz added. “There are dark times, but the themes I feel are all skewed towards hope.”

For Mickle, the tone of the show not far from classic children’s films like ET: The alien or The Goonies – films made for children, but which were nonetheless “frigging dark”.

And, as it turns out, Lemire is eager to share the show with his own son, who is roughly the same age as Gus: “I am delighted to watch it with him and that it is something that holds up. between what I’m comfortable showing him and some things that I know will scare him a bit. I think when you can walk that line you are probably right.

Sweet tooth premieres June 4 on Netflix.

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