Netflix’s new fantasy collection, Candy Tooth, first seems like a crudely fictionalized model of 2020. A illness colloquially known as The Sick spreads quickly amongst people whereas overwhelming infrastructure, grinding every day life to a halt, and racking up a physique depend. When this story begins, society tries to place itself collectively once more. An unnamed narrator calls it “The Nice Crumble.”
This catastrophe, nonetheless, cannot be contained even to the extent of COVID-19. No remedy or vaccination has been found, so most people decide to reside in isolation both as people or as disease-free teams. This withdrawal has allowed nature to basically step into the void—animals beforehand solely seen in a zoo roam free, and landscapes develop out in full to replenish what society beforehand destroyed for assets.
Oh, and in Candy Tooth, the subsequent technology of children seems to incorporate half-animal/half-human people known as Hybrids. The ratio of column A to column B varies—some discuss, some do not; many seem like conventional children with small animal options; all retain skills like heightened listening to or odor—however nobody appears to know something for positive. Why did this evolution occur? What number of are there? And, most pertinent, what makes Hybrids proof against The Sick? Within the face of all that thriller, some parts of this new world have a look at Hybrids as a hopeful evolution of humanity, a gaggle of people society ought to shield and assist thrive. Others, although, see Hybrids as a hindrance to humanity getting previous The Sick and returning to normalcy. Particularly, Hybrids’ immunity to The Sick has swaths of this new world interested by whether or not their DNA might be harvested for therapy or prevention.
In the midst of this entire mess sits Gus, a deerboy Hybrid who merely lived a quiet life in an remoted Yellowstone cabin together with his father till, properly, you possibly can most likely see the place that is headed. Fortunately, that predictability would not make the journey forward any much less enjoyable.
Grin, grim, grin once more
So, our Tom Sawyer-loving deerkid has to set off on a country-traversing journey of his personal, and all through, he’ll encounter quite a few people with unknown motives who might want him useless or might associate as much as develop into a discovered household of kinds. I watched a big portion of the collection with a teen sibling, and evidently they have been in a position to name out most of the particular person episode’s twists and turns. Candy Tooth covers quite a bit of well-worn film and TV territory, however it should nonetheless seemingly have you ever in for the lengthy haul in the event you’re keen on any of the quite a few kids-versus-the-world adventures of yore (from The Goonies to Harry Potter).
That mentioned, I used to be amused by the collection’ distinctive method to some widespread features of its intersecting genres (child journey, post-apocalypse). When Gus and his first new partymate (a former soccer participant turned hunter/murderer named Tommy Jeppard, aka Massive Man) inevitably encounter a militarized group of individuals, that group is not filled with former cadets or marines. As a substitute, this newbie military discovered its techniques as a result of they have been beforehand a faithful group of associates who performed video games like Overwatch or Halo. And the scientists who stay and should kind out this illness mess aren’t former authorities lab jockeys; they was regular-old medical care suppliers. They very a lot proceed to grapple with the trauma of watching all these sufferers of The Sick deteriorate as this new world asks them to step up and lead, so these docs have their humanity in tact fairly than working solely with some “something for the larger good” mentality.
It will be very, very simple for Candy Tooth to develop into too darkish, too emotionally heavy, or too tiresome for viewers who’ve lived some of these things IRL within the final 16 months. Time and again, the present gave me flashbacks to once I used to comply with The Strolling Lifeless, which I had give up watching completely after hours and hours of despair. Like TWD, Candy Tooth has our heroes going via cycles the place they encounter many alternative teams of people that initially appear good and useful solely to disclose themselves to be one thing else afterward, typically with tragic outcomes. (When will folks in TV and movie study that there could also be no scarier, extra harmful place than white picket fence-lined suburban neighborhoods? Sigh.) In one other notable zombie-brains-show similarity, the unhealthy guys (whether or not that is a illness or a disassociated lunatic navy man) appear to return out on high as a rule, at the least in these first eight episodes.
Regardless of that, Candy Tooth by no means veers completely into wreck porn or nihilism. Principally, that is due to its central determine. In contrast to Rick Grimes (The Strolling Lifeless), June (Handmaid’s Story), or many different characters present in an apocalyptic new actuality, Gus continues to be a child. The world hasn’t overwhelmed him down into anticipating the worst on a regular basis, and his common optimism and marvel maintain this story feeling gentle sufficient regardless of many intestine punches alongside the best way. Candy Tooth‘s supply comedian wrapped in 2013, and manufacturing on this Netflix collection started lengthy earlier than COVID-19 took over. The inventive staff had already made a couple of choices to tone down the bleakness of the supply materials, and the advantages of these selections are solely amplified by the context viewers deliver to the present in summer season 2021.
I’ve but to actively search out any pandemic-related popular culture. Possibly my urge for food for it should finally change, although let’s revisit that in a decade. However given how all-encompassing this ongoing international scenario has been, after all you possibly can’t assist however devour a few of it, even accidentally. For me, the stuff that works thus far has had a point of optimism or hope beneath the adversity, chaos, and tragedy. The risotto episode of Learn how to With John Wilson, for example, consists of overrun grocery shops and scenes from hospitals, but it surely ends by underscoring our want for human interplay and the newly realized immense worth in it.
On the floor, Candy Tooth is not in regards to the pandemic in any respect. This present is for teenagers, and it’s not delicate about hammering house a central thought relating to humanity’s function in destroying our planet via local weather change and an insatiable thirst for extra. Nonetheless, the present’s plot prominently encompasses a worldwide pandemic, making it unimaginable to not take into consideration that via the lens of those eight episodes. In the end, Candy Tooth factors to some constructive messages amid the illness darkness.
First, do not be jerks to the youngest technology. We do not but understand how this may affect them, and they’re the long run who will unravel this mess and navigate its lasting affect. Moreover, pushing ahead necessitates extending kindness to others. The load of the world is emotionally on everybody’s shoulders (if not bodily, to a big extent). And when it is unimaginable to know when your subsequent occasion, journey, household reunion, or no matter factor you sit up for will occur, another type of hope should exist so that you can imagine in if you would like any probability at emotional and psychological survival. Gus offers that hope to admittedly broken-down people like Massive Man, and it is simple to think about him spreading that optimistic outlook wider in S2 given the pessimistic approach issues wrap this time round.
Historically, summer season all the time felt like a dumping floor for networks to strive uncommon issues as folks trip or usually get out extra; greater collection headliners have a tendency to attend for fall returns or premieres accordingly (see Y: The Final Man or The Basis in 2021). However current years have seen surprises emerge on the finish of spring and develop into their very own crucial darlings (HBO’s Los Espookys) or megafranchises (Stranger Issues). Whether or not Candy Tooth can journey the identical shock path to stardom stays to be seen, but it surely’s at the least good to have a brand new present price following as we enter one other summer season the place journey is likely to be sophisticated (although, mercifully, not as sophisticated as it’s in Candy Tooth).
Itemizing picture by Kirsty Griffin / Netflix © 2021