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Sweet Tooth





Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

They called it the Great Crumble.

With no cure or treatments for the deadly H5G9 virus, the Sick only had a couple of days from the time the first symptoms began (their pinky fingers shaking) to the time they died.

Panic set in. Mandatory quarantines were enforced. Violators were shot on sight. Patients flooded hospitals, leaving doctors and nurses overwhelmed. And the world burned.

But as the world slipped into chaos, something extraordinary happened …

Hybrids—half human, half animal—were born.

Perhaps the greatest mystery is whether these children caused the virus or the virus caused the children. But since they can’t contract (or spread) the disease, one thing is for sure: Hybrids are the future.

A Very Special Boy

Of these hybrid children, we meet Gus (nicknamed “Sweet Tooth” for his love of chocolate). Half-deer, half-human, Gus was the very first hybrid child, created in a lab by a scientist. (Subsequent hybrids would be born naturally by human beings.) But shortly after Gus’ “birth,” the H5G9 virus broke out, and his creator, Birdie, hid Gus away for fear that the government would connect his creation with the virus and experiment on him.

When Birdie could no longer keep Gus safe, she passed him on to a man named Richard, who took Gus deep into the woods of Yellowstone National Park—far away from any humans who might wish him harm.

“Pubba,” as Gus calls Richard, instructs Gus: “If I hear a growl, I will duck. If I hear a voice, I will run. If see a human, I will hide.”

And hide Gus should. Because despite proof that the hybrid children couldn’t get them sick, people still feared them.

The “critters,” as they’re sometimes called, replaced human children completely. And with so much still unknown about them, humans hunt the kids down to study them, experiment on them and sometimes, even kill them.

Wanting to protect his adopted son and ensure Gus lives a long and happy life, Pubba tells him the world was on fire outside the confines of the national park’s fence and that he should never leave.

But after Pubba dies of the illness that wiped out half the planet, Gus decides to break his father’s rules. He ventures outside the fence to discover that the world is not, in fact, on fire. And soon, his story entwines with those of others—some who want to help him, some who want to hurt him, and some who believe Gus just may be the answer to saving the world.

Sweet Truth

Though it’s based on a comic book series that started its run in 2009, Sweet Tooth could be seen as a commentary on the coronavirus pandemic.

Much like we witnessed during lockdown, characters wear face masks and quarantine in place. Hospitals are swarmed with the Sick, and there is no cure.

But what sets this story apart is that “normal” human children no longer exist—or rather, those who do were born before the Great Crumble.

The hybrid children are hunted down and murdered—often brutally. And with few adults to raise, teach and love them, most of these children give in to their animal instincts and become feral, unable to speak or act coherently.

But if the hybrid children in the show are imperiled, the show itself contains a few other pitfalls. Those who contract H5G9 are often murdered to prevent the spread of the illness. Paramilitary groups cause chaos. There’s some language to watch out for. And Pubba (along with many others) believes that the Great Crumble was Mother Nature’s way of fixing the planet that humans had destroyed.

Many people probably won’t want to watch a show where kids—hybrid or not—are literally hunted down for sport. But especially in a post-pandemic world, Sweet Tooth isn’t necessarily a story you want to hear.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

June 4, 2024 – S3, E1: “The Beginning Is Also the End”

Gus, fellow hybrid Wendy, her big sister Becky and Big Man (Gus’ friend who has protected him since Pubba died) make their way to Alaska, where they believe Birdie is searching for a cure to the Sick.

A man attacks Birdie, choking her and throwing her around. Birdie fights back, biting the man and stabbing him with a sharp object. She manages to escape, but she’s shot with a tranquilizer dart and apprehended by a mysterious figure. Elsewhere, a captain attacks a member of his crew, but he stops short of stabbing the man. We see a dead deer lying on the ground in a pool of blood. People are threatened with guns.

Gus and the others come across a car, its passengers all dead from the Sick. An entire ship’s crew has contracted the virus. They’re scared, and though we don’t see them perish onscreen, it’s obvious they will all eventually succumb to the disease.

An avalanche nearly takes out Gus and his friends. They’re all ultimately OK, but it’s the first of many dangerous events that may occur on their way to Alaska. A teenager drives recklessly. We’re told that the Last Men (a paramilitary group who hunted hybrids) are no more, but Big Man warns there are other dangerous men out there still. A pack of wolf-hybrid children hunt Gus and his friends in the mountains.

We’re told casinos were designed so people would never want to leave. Indeed, several elderly people (most requiring oxygen tanks to breathe) have taken residence there—their favorite pastime before the Great Crumble. They hoard food and refuse to give food, clothing or shelter to Gus and his friends. Gus gambles with them, trying to win some supplies, but he loses. And they treat Gus and Wendy like animals. (One is somewhat redeemed, offering Gus a scarf as he leaves.)

People drink at a bar. Someone says a magician used to make people believe in magic. We learn about stolen items. There are many cynical and unsympathetic attitudes. A woman swears on her dead husband’s soul that her grandchild won’t be a hybrid.

Five uses of the s-word and three uses of “h—.” The insult, “numbnuts,” is used.

We see many loving, caring moments between Gus and his friends. They treat each other like family. Gus and Wendy make a pact to be better than the people they encountered at the casino.

Apr. 27, 2023 – S2, E1: “In Captivity”

Birdie searches for clues to curing H5G9 somewhere in the Arctic. Meanwhile, Gus and several other hybrid children try to escape the Last Men (a paramilitary group that hunts down hybrids).

We learn that Dr. Singh, a scientist reluctantly working for the Last Men, killed a hybrid child to synthesize a temporary cure for his wife, who is slowly dying from the Sick. (Later on, we see the deceased half-chameleon child in a tank.) In a dream, Gus has a memory of his friend, Big Man, bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound. Heavily armed men carry crates of weapons. People threaten to shoot each other. We hear a woman was killed by a horse and that her body was hidden by the horse’s owners. Someone threats Singh and his wife. When Last Men storm a woman’s house, she arms herself with a flamethrower and kills several of them. (She’s eventually subdued, but it’s unclear if they killed her or captured her.) A girl staying at the house is nearly caught escaping, but she uses a claw-like aperture strapped to her hand to stab her would-be captor and eventually throw him out a window and off a roof. Singh warns Gus that if Gus isn’t cooperative, the Last Men will force Singh to dissect him alive.

We hear that a new strain of H5G9 is killing people in larger numbers than ever before. A woman tactlessly comments that the “best maintenance guys” were the first to be killed by the Sick.

A woman falls through rotting floorboards. Shortly after, someone (or something) triggers a cable she used to descend into a cave, causing her to be yanked back out of the cave quite violently (though she’s OK). A girl falls off a roof and is briefly knocked unconscious. Dr. Singh is forced to continue working even though he hasn’t slept in three days.

Last Men treat hybrid children like animals, literally feeding them kibble and keeping them in a “kennel.” One boy is forced to wear a shock collar after he tries to escape. Gus lies to the hybrids about the fate of the chameleon boy to keep hopes up. We hear about housing policies that forbade hybrid children. There are several derogatory names for hybrids.

There are four uses of the s-word and one use of “h—.” A half-bird child shrieks like a bird because she was born without vocal cords. Another hybrid informs Gus that the girl only shrieks when she’s cursing, and he notes that she curses a lot.

A half-skunk boy passes gas. We hear a housing community stockpiled booze. A man smokes a pipe. Someone prays to a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. A woman states that “nature” decided that she and her husband wouldn’t have children since they didn’t want a hybrid child. Gus shares how Big Man used to tell him to “grow a pair,” though Gus admits he didn’t know what the expression meant.

The hybrid children are welcoming to Gus. They comfort and encourage each other and work together to escape. One boy sings “This Little Light of Mine.”

Jun. 4, 2021 – S1, E1: “Out of the Deep Woods”

We watch chaos ensue as millions of people contract a deadly disease. We see them rapidly deteriorate until they die, as well as sobbing family members and swarmed hospitals. Quarantines and curfews are enforced. Police officers and military personnel literally pull children away from their parents. And cars and helicopters crash and burn.

An official on TV advises people to pray. Pubba teaches Gus about “Mother Nature” and tells him that she used the virus to wipe out all the humans who had hurt her and each other. We see apparitions of this story (through Gus’ imagination) in smoke and flames.

Poachers shoot arrows at Gus (they miss) and pick him up by his antlers. Two men are shot with guns. Pubba kills a man offscreen (we hear screaming), and he later returns to Gus with blood on his hands. A man holds a broom like a gun to trick someone. Gus hits several people with rocks from a slingshot.

A couple kisses a few times. We see a boy from the shoulders up as he takes a bath. A man tells his son that it’s OK to lie if it helps someone you love. We hear uses of the s-word, “d–mit” and “a–hole.” We also hear misuses of God’s name (including a pairing with “d–mit”).

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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