Netflix recently released a new highly anticipated series, Sweet Tooth, based on a graphic comic series by the same name which was published under the DC label. The unique piece in a genre of superhumans inarguably overtapped stands out in its roguish and rugged point of view much like the widely praised, Logan, which was a major departure from the typical Marvel X-Men Universe formula. But is it worth a Saturday binge? Here at Conservative Critic I tell you if its good by asking: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And most importantly: Is it liberal propaganda? Mild spoilers ahead.
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Sweet Tooth
Overall Rating: Good
Sweet Tooth takes place in a fallen society who is suffering while a deadly virus has ravaged the population and caused chaos which shut down the major functions current western society is accustomed to such as internet access, education, democracy, sustainable food and water supply etc. The virus has no known cure and no sustainable treatment method. Meanwhile simultaneously, human babies are no longer being born and in their place human women are giving birth to “hybrids” which are part human and part animal.
The story primarily follows a young hybrid boy-deer named Gus played by Christian Convery (Playing with Fire, Beautiful Boy), whose father played by Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth, MacGruber) has wisely taken him to the woods (specifically Yellowstone National Park) to raise him safely away from the chaos. After years of safety, society slowly encroaches on the pair and Gus is sent on a journey to find safety and family with and unlikely protector, Jepperd played by the criminally underrated, Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones, Zoo).
Secondarily, the story follows a former doctor, Aditya Sing played by Adeel Akthar (Enola Holms, The Big Sick) and his virus infected wife, Rani Singh played by Aliza Vellani (Upload, Operation Christmas Drop) grappling with survival back in the midst of society in the aftermath of chaos.
Normally I don’t really get into the content in terms of audience appropriateness (I’ll leave that to the good folks at Common Sense Media). But in this case, I found the marketing for the series to imply a sort of whimsical dark comedy and it really was not that. The story is extremely entertaining (more below) in that it is a very dark and gruesome action packed thriller with a colorful apocalyptic point of view. Please take a peek at the Common Sense Media review before thinking your kiddos will enjoy. The sweet looking deer-boy and title of “Sweet Tooth” is deliciously misleading (if you’re an adult).
The series’ high entertainment value combined with its thoughtful and superior artistic quality outshines its uneducated attempt at liberal propaganda producing a good series worth a binge or worth picking up for a weekly watch with your partner or friends or maybe older kids.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Exciting and Interesting
Sweet Tooth is unexpected and very compelling. With DC as its publisher and an apocalyptic plot line viewers probably think they know exactly what the series will be (been there done that about a zillion times). But despite its dusty concept, Sweet Tooth brings a fresh point of view to an issue close to the hearts of so many of us coming out of the COVID-19 Chinese lab manufactured pandemic. In a world where there was an actually deadly virus and a new generation of children who might have caused it- how would people act? Sweet Tooth tackles this question by positing: people would act pretty badly. See more below about how accurate I find this theme.
Action packed from start to finish Gus and his comrades cannot get a break. In the secondary story, Dr. Singh and his wife are up against the odds while hiding in plain sight in a neighborhood with extremist methods in containing and controlling the virus (think the witches of Salem).
There are basically no slow moments from start to finish and it only doesn’t receive a perfectly entertaining score because it’s almost too much. It’s not quite too much, it’s still enjoyable, but it’s intense and there is a lot of darkness to take in. There are times when the viewer is going to feel gut punched and stomach clenched for long periods of time. And there are scenes that will haunt the viewer long past viewing. There is a sadness which overhangs the story – intentionally – which knocks the entertainment down ever so slightly. Especially as we all grapple with the knowledge of what our neighbors are capable of even in less dark times like today (recall neighbors calling the cops on block parties and kids playing in yards together).
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: Solid work
Written by DC universe pro, Beth Schwartz and Directed/co-written by relative newcomer, Jim Mickle, Sweet Tooth is adapted from a DC comic book written by Jeff Lamire and brings a fresh aesthetic that viewers will find somehow family but all together perplexing. Keeping the series just short of masterpiece is how the writing dips into propaganda at times – and quite badly – and fails to follow the logic of its own characters. More on that below.
The visuals in Sweet Tooth are exemplary. With camera washes of gold, flawless CGI with all the cuddly charm of Peter Rabbit and costuming worthy of any dystopian dream, viewers will be delighted whilst being simultaneously horrified by the unfolding plot. What works in Sweet Tooth is the total lack of connectivity between what the viewer is seeing and what the viewer is experiencing. There is something extremely jarring about it which is the intention. Often when filmmakers and showrunners are trying to create a sense of chaos they employ cheap tricks like shaky cameras and spinning tracking shots and loud noises and prints. Sweet Tooth is a work of art as it presents itself in cognitive dissonance.
The acting is overall strong with a few standouts and a weak spot. First, it is an absolute treat to see Will Forte in the story considering its nearly a cameo. His hit comedy series, The Last Man on Earth follows a man who is left alone on earth after a deadly virus wipes out the population. His series was essentially the comedic take on the plot of Sweet Tooth. For him to show up in a serious role and perform extremely well is a joy and a triumph for him as an actor and fans of Last Man.
Nonso Anozie does what he does well. He plays a burly man without much to say and he loads him up with nuance. Young Christian Convery is extremely likable and charming as the lead and does “regular child” with poor decision making and pureness of heart very well and with not much smarm. Another shining star is Adeel Akthar who not for one second lost my belief that he was a Doctor desperate to save his wife. Finally, relative newcomer Stefanie LaVie Owne plays the character, Bear (sort of a teenage Lord of the Flies) and has a lot of heart though not quite as strong as her adult counterparts.
Not pulling her weight, Sweet Tooth in a third much less in-focus plot line follows Aimee played by Dania Ramirez (Once Upon a Time, Devious Maids) who takes shelter in an abandoned zoo, caring for hybrids after the chaos ensues. Ramirez is often cast in this particular role of dogooder nice lady heroine and I just never think she has the chops for it. A beautiful actress with a long list of credits and an expressive face, I can never understand why directors keep putting her in roles in which she comes across so particularly unbelievable. A slightly grittier version of her Cinderella in Once and Rosie in Devious Maids, Aimee is a little less annoying than her previous characters but frankly she just doesn’t work for the story and I don’t believe her.
Is It Liberal Propaganda?
Rating: Very much and then also accidentally not
Sweet Tooth is fraught with political agenda. As a conservative who suffered through government lock-downs and total societal shut down over a virus about 1/1,000,000,000th as deadly as the one depicted in Sweet Tooth (plus no animal babies from what I can tell) I feel like the theme is quite simply that turning on your neighbors over viruses and vaccines is a bad thing to do.
However, Sweet Tooth shoe horns liberalism into the story by trying to claim that actually climate change and pollution is responsible for the chaos into which society has fallen. It makes very little sense since the main plot is that there was a killer virus. The whole climate agenda is brought into the story by Bear who is the leader of a band of teenagers dedicated to protecting hybrids from the violent world around them seeking their destruction.
Bear and her crew all dress as animals and posit that nature is resetting and that is why hybrids are being born. Feels like a big stretch even for sci fi but to be fair, the story does not necessarily claim that Bear is correct in her assumptions. However, she is unequivocally a hero of the story.
But there is little credibility with Bear and squad because though they claim to be worshippers of the animals and the environment – for some reason they have a real tiger locked up in a cage which they use to kill their enemies. If you worshipped animals and nature….why would you cage a tiger? Carole Baskin would not approve.
Additionally there is some pretty extreme anti-rural/southern American propaganda in the series as most of the bounty hunters who go after cute Gus boy are dressed in camo and meant to depict folks you might see in rural Florida or West Virginia. All accented even despite the fact that Gus took shelter in Yellowstone which is nowhere near the American south. All of the “good guys” in the story are northern or non-American accented individuals and none of them dress in camo clothing or are styled like a modern American hunter.
Liberalism is real in this one. However, the plot line with the virus to me plays out as a conservative conspiracy propaganda video whether or not they actually meant it to which saves it from being a total liberal mind melt.
Sweet Tooth breathes new life into an old dystopian virus trope and brings an artistic point-of-view that is as innovative as it is effective. Primarily well acted, Sweet Tooth will make you feel a lot of things (mainly sad and stressed) but it will also captivate you as the compelling story of a fallen world unfolds. With every attempt made to drench itself in liberalism, the story still manages to carry a conservative heart which is that we should not turn on our neighbors and we definitely shouldn’t trust the government. Overall it is well worth watching and lived up to the hype of the series release.