The great Jim Mickle (“We Are What We Are,” “Cold in July”) co-created “Sweet Tooth” (with Beth Schwartz) and directs the riveting premiere (along with a few more episodes throughout the eight-episode first season). Based on the beloved comic series by Jeff Lemire, “Sweet Tooth” is a vision of a population-changing pandemic that destroys humanity as we know it while also bringing forth the next step in human evolution. The planet is divided as to whether or not they were a cause of the pandemic or a product of it but children start to become born who aren’t exactly human, more hybrids of our species and others from throughout nature. The hybrid children became enemies, hunted down and killed, if they’re lucky, experimented on if they’re not.
The protagonist of “Sweet Tooth” (the title is a nickname for his character) is the charming Gus (Christian Convery, giving one of the best TV child performances in years), a deer/human hybrid who has been kept in hiding by his father (Will Forte). Trained on how to survive in isolation, apart from a world that wants him dead, the opening scenes of “Sweet Tooth” echo “Hanna” in the narrative of a unique child kept in secrecy. The show will likely also draw comparisons to “The Road” and even “The Walking Dead,” but this is no streaming mimic—”Sweet Tooth” has a strong, rich personality of its own that may have been inspired by other works of art but stands on its own as well.
The simple life of Gus and his father is shattered in the premiere, sending our sweetheart protagonist on a journey to try and find his mother. All he has of her is a photo—and she’s recognizably Amy Seimetz—with the words R.R. Colorado on it, and so he goes to that state to find her. His unexpected traveling companion is a gentle giant named Tommy (the phenomenal Nonso Anozie), who once served in a violent military group named The Last Men, hunters of hybrids and anyone who hides them.
“Sweet Tooth” is divided into three arcs. The primary one is the journey of Tommy, Gus, and an eventual third traveler, a fighter named Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen), a young person who believes the hybrids are a positive form of evolution and has tried to protect them. Meanwhile, Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar) is handed a potential cure for the pandemic that is still ravaging the country, but it could come at the cost of his moral center. Adding pressure to his research is the fact that his wife Rani (Aliza Vellani) has the disease, which the two are trying to hide from the neighborhood. The season’s darkest moment unfolds in episode three, when it’s revealed what happens in this suburban utopia when someone starts showing symptoms. At the same time, we’re introduced to Aimee (Dania Ramirez), who runs a safe space for hybrids, at great risk to her own personal safety. And the legendary James Brolin narrates the whole thing with a Sam Elliott-esque gravitas that really adds to the modern fable tone of the affair.