Sweet Tooth’s post-apocalyptic world is meant to be a ‘storybook dystopia’
Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth is a comedian e book about a younger boy surviving in a world ravaged by a pandemic. He additionally occurs to be a “hybrid,” a new breed of half-human, half-animal creature that started to seem alongside the lethal illness. It’s a darkish story, one which had the potential to be extremely bleak and uncomfortable when translated to tv. That’s notably true now, as the actual world continues to take care of its personal pandemic. For the group adapting the story for an upcoming collection on Netflix, all of those components mixed to create a barely totally different strategy. “It made us lean extra into the hope,” govt producer Amanda Burrell says of the present.
Netflix’s eight-episode Sweet Tooth collection will debut on June 4th. It’s a live-action tackle the comics, one which maintains the identical fundamental premise: Gus, a nine-year-old boy with deer antlers, lives in relative isolation together with his father, earlier than finally setting out into the bigger world alongside a wanderer named Jepperd. (There are different modifications, however they enterprise into spoiler territory.) Apart from the transfer to live-action, one of many greatest shifts is pacing. Sweet Tooth is a actual page-turner in comedian e book type, however the present strikes rather more leisurely, lingering on key moments. That’s by design.
“We needed to draw issues out a bit extra,” explains Burrell. “We needed to give extra time to Gus and Jepperd collectively. We needed to decelerate and guarantee we have been actually inside all the characters.” This additionally offers the present time to steadily introduce a number of the extra fantastical ideas, just like the hybrids themselves, as early on, the main focus is virtually fully on Gus. “We actually needed to slowly get the viewers on board with this very particular sort of recent human, and actually get them emotionally invested in Gus earlier than opening it up too broad,” Burrell provides. “It was an intentional factor. We wish the viewers to be with these characters and never faraway from them.”
This concentrate on Gus is additionally the place that hope comes from. The boy, performed by Christian Convery, has a wide-eyed optimism that’s simple to get caught up in, notably when it’s performed towards Jepperd’s cynicism. Actually, there’s virtually a schism within the present, the place the youthful characters appear in a position to take care of the state of the world in a rather more optimistic method in contrast to the adults. So even when there are extremely darkish moments, there’s a sense of steadiness. “We needed to ensure that humanity wasn’t depicted in simply such a darkish, foreboding method,” Burrell says, including, “We talked a lot about not wanting audiences to be alienated by the world. That type of hopeless feeling you get after you watch a present that has a bleakness to it. Then it was nearly leaning into Gus.”
She describes the present’s vibe as a “storybook dystopia,” a feeling that was enhanced by filming in New Zealand. (The story is set within the US.) “We went to New Zealand, and it has this sort of heightened magic to it,” Burrell says. “The timber look barely totally different, the mountains are greater. It allowed us to actually intensify the fantastic thing about nature.”
The pilot for Sweet Tooth was filmed in 2019, earlier than the present pandemic, and it wasn’t till it got here time to write the remainder of the season that “the world went nuts,” as Burrell describes it. The true-world pandemic had some affect over the present’s comparatively lighter tone, although it didn’t alter the precise story in any method. That mentioned, Burrell notes that a stress might be felt throughout filming, notably throughout one scene (which I received’t spoil) that feels eerily acquainted after a 2020 full of lockdowns and quarantines. “On set, you possibly can hear a pin drop,” she explains.
This all raises an fascinating query: why are folks drawn to these tales, notably as they extra intently resemble our personal actuality (deer youngsters apart)? The final yr has seen main releases just like the grim The Final of Us Half II, Amazon’s tackle the Stephen King basic The Stand, and the shocking heartwarming movie Love and Monsters, to identify simply a few. Burrell has a principle as to why this sort of post-apocalyptic setting continues to resonate.
“There’s a stress to: what if it’s throughout? I feel the thought of the human spirit and the longer term, wrestling again always, is simply so highly effective,” she explains. “The Final of Us is a nice instance. Seeing what people are prepared to do for each other; clearly it will possibly get very darkish, like in that occasion. Nevertheless it’s simply actually highly effective to see what folks do for each other. I feel now greater than ever we’d like to really feel that.”
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