Netflix’s Daybreak is an apocalyptic epic set in sunny Glendale, California. With all the pop culture and game references, we can assume the timeline is right around ours. There’s discord in politics and threats of war all around, but in this world, it happens. Nukes are launched worldwide by various countries, but instead of destroying everything, something different happens. Most of the adults in the world are vaporized and turned into “Goo”. That is except for the ones that turned into ravenous monsters dubbed “Ghoulies”. The only ones left to pick up the pieces are the various teenagers of the planet. And much like high school, teenagers tend to stick with who they already know.
Daybreak gives off a serious Mad Max vibe mixed with Shawn of The Dead. Maybe even a little Ferris Bueller, most likely because of Ferris himself (Mathew Broderick), playing a character in the show. The plot of the show is our main character, Josh Wheeler, searching high and low for his girlfriend Sam Dean. It’s not an easy task, Josh was a serious loner in high school and never really had friends. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, in the apocalypse, you need a group to watch your back.
The Glendale Tribes
Throughout life, there are people separated by social norms. This is the most evident in sports and different cliques, like gaming enthusiasts or fashionistas. So it makes sense in Daybreak that after the apocalypse, people who played sports or had things in common formed their own “Tribes”. The biggest obstacle between Josh and the love of his life is the jocks. Their gang consists of all the various high school sports teams and are lead by, you guessed it, the quarterback. While thinking he was rescuing Sam, Josh makes an enemy of the jocks and clash throughout the season.
Of course, there’s other tribes as well who established their own territory. We have the 4H club, a gang that specializes in farming and raising animals for food. The Cheermazons, who are made up of all women, and specialize in quick movement and teamwork thanks to their cheer background. They also train in hand-to-hand combat, not unlike “The Amazons”. With teenagers, ghouls, and jealous significant others, the end of the world isn’t all that it seems.
Daybreak’s ghouls, radiation, and art style
It’s definitely worth noting Daybreak is based on a comic book. And every episode seems to have a tasteful 4th wall break nodding to that fact. The 4th wall breaks, in my opinion, don’t get tiring and is accomplished differently in almost every episode. Flashbacks are in heavy use throughout episodes and are used to show what our characters were up to before the explosion. The apocalypse affected everyone differently. It’s unclear why teenagers survived and adults looked like gelato left in the sun.
While the radiation leaves our teenage heroes alone, it continues to affect other living creatures—a pug made into a giant hog-sized creature or a squirrel with ten too many eyes—even spiders have been affected, making a brown recluse’s venom so potent that skin contact would kill you. The ghouls remind me of zombies but with a little twist; they still talk! Now that doesn’t mean they’re smart, and it definitely doesn’t mean they won’t slurp your blood like an Applebee’s happy hour. Whatever words they say is what happened to be the last thing on their mind before the explosion.
Imagining a ghoul listing his groceries right before it tears into my carotid artery is not a good way to die. But, much like other movie zombies, unless the ghouls are grouped up they’re easily avoidable. The music and cinematography are top-notch. With music ranging from Smashing Pumpkins to Alt-J, any music lover can jam along. There’s also multiple musical numbers in Daybreak, but they always seem to end in bloodshed.
Is Daybreak worth watching?
It’s a breath of fresh air in the apocalypse scene and I believe Netflix bagged another successful series. That being said, sometimes Daybreak does oversaturate the use of pop culture and cliches. But at the same time, that’s the point. It’s a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. One episode was narrated by RZA. Yeah, that RZA. The different perspectives of characters make each episode unique and interesting. Everyone has a hard time fitting in, especially in the apocalypse. There’s a ton of character growth and relatability in every character. The backstories are fleshed out just enough to know the person without having dullness like The Walking Dead. All of the characters think differently and survive with their own set of ideals. If you want a fun show to watch with creatures, blood, and romance, this show will fit the void in your heart