The charming little animal-child hybrid show is back for a second season, which is sure to be an immediate success amongst fans. The series that surprised viewers across the globe during the pandemic became a super hit in days due to its chirpy little Deer Boy and the Big Man with more heart than anything else. “Sweet Tooth” was a hopeful story that didn’t feel like a burden at the time of a pandemic but rather gave people the dopamine boost they needed during the dreaded times of the lockdown. While it retains its dose of “cute and amusing,” it also manages to get deeper into the darker aspects of things without becoming overbearing or boring. But now it has the opportunity to become a bigger hit among a wider audience that wants to invest in a more emotional and perhaps bleaker atmosphere. Amongst the insanely successful satirical dramas, the one really successful zombie show (“The Last Of Us” is a genre of its own), action-packed thrillers (can “Beef” be counted as this?), and the soppy rom-coms that just haven’t found the formula to match their predecessors, “Sweet Tooth” finds a middle ground that is a family watch, a genre lacking in these past few years. It perfectly blends post-apocalyptic sci-fi with “I want to squish his little cheeks,” who would say no to that?
Personally, when the show came out during the pandemic, I was skeptical about a series of cross-breeds; what would the visuals be like? Will it have any substance, or is it just about how cute the kids are? But now that I’ve seen both seasons, suffice it to say I was won over. It’s one of those rare cases when the combination of “Warner Bros.” and “DC Comics” worked out. With the sweet success of season 1, it was only a matter of time before a second season was announced. This time around, the budget is definitely higher as we see more of the hybrids, meaning more VFX, which is pretty great and keeps the show going. I’ve never wanted to touch someone’s ears more.
“Sweet Tooth” follows the tale of a young “deer boy” who is in search of his mother after losing the man who claimed to be his father to a virus known commonly as “the sick.” His journey begins with a man named Thomas Jeppered, whom he calls “Big Man” or “Jepp” for short. Over a long journey, they get close, find new friends, and create the bonds of a lifetime while fighting off a fascist group known as the “Last Men.” The leader of the “Last Men,” Douglas Abbot, is an interesting antagonist with an array of accents and red sunglasses that make him look like he’s come right out of a children’s book (I guess that’s the point) but nonetheless manages to satisfy the need for an actual villain rather than an intangible one (the disease). We also have Aimee, an adoptive mother of lost hybrids who runs a “preserve” with her first hybrid child, “Wendy.” An “Animal Army” of teenagers who couldn’t go to college or find jobs take it upon themselves to keep the hybrids safe from the humans who ruined the world and their future. Season 1 ended with the three protagonists who came together to be split up three ways, and so the question is, will they be able to find each other in season 2? Of course, if I answered that question, you wouldn’t watch the show, so go see it!
The second season raises the stakes, hence the dark themes, and answers a lot of questions regarding the science behind the virus and the hybrids. While season 1 focused on Gus and his relationship with the world outside of his pubba, this season, the view expands and takes a deep dive into other characters, including and especially General Abbot and the good Doctor Singh. A very well-crafted story of power and obsession with these two characters plays out throughout the season, and it’s surprisingly never boring but just more thrilling as to whether Singh will find the cure or fail under the power-hungry Abbot. I must admit that when I first saw “The Three,” I was taken back to the “Twilight” days, specifically the villainous trio “James, Victoria, and Laurent” (sorry if you can’t unsee it).
Christian Convery comes back as the sunshine “sweet tooth” Gus and does a great job at acting as a human who has the agility and senses of a deer, especially after enjoying his comic timing in Elizabeth Banks’ “Cocaine Bear.” After seeing so many “grown-up” shows, it is quite surprising to see such an optimistic child and also such a joyful and hopeful view of children as a whole. Adeel Akhtar and Aliza Vellani give compelling performances as their two love-stricken characters lose track of the world around them. Rani’s arc is something to look forward to for sure; I’m not sure I’d say the same about Adi. It’s great to see more of Stefania LaVie Owen as Becky, especially where her character goes in the end. Dania Ramirez is a bundle of tears in almost every episode, but it’s alright because she has her kids to look after. Aimee and Jepp’s expressions are a highlight of the show. Marlon Williams creates an impact as the introverted and fearful Johnny; I couldn’t say the same about how convincing Neil Sandilands is as his brother General Abbot. The kids are, of course, a delight to watch, and most importantly, Nonso Anozie’s return as “soft on the inside, hard on the outside” Big Man is perfect. Seeing more of the stories of these other characters drives the “found family” narrative home, making us fond of each of them individually.
The series carries a sense of dread this time around, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is minimum profanity, lots of action, some scary things for children, and lots of violence and action, especially for a younger audience. Fill the large fantasy-sized hole in your hearts left by “Shadow and Bone” with “Sweet Tooth,” It’s definitely not the same, but it’ll be worth it, especially because of the kids and their little smiles. Overall, “Sweet Tooth” remains heartfelt and urges the viewer to root for the main characters until the end. I give “Sweet Tooth” 3.5 out of 5 stars, specifically because the show lost some momentum in episodes 5–6.