Comics On TV

What We Could See in Sweet Tooth Season 2

Comic book creator Jeff Lemire, head villain Neil Sandilands (who plays the general), and executive producers Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz answer some lingering questions about Netflix's latest fantasy darling.

by | June 17, 2021 | Comments


From its curiously involved narrator (James Brolin) to its leading protagonist, human-deer Hybrid child Gus (Christian Convery), Sweet Tooth surprised viewers with its mix of post-apocalyptic dread, boy’s adventure, and the brightly-colored hope of a world slowly repairing itself.

At only eight episodes, the series — based on the comic book by Jeff Lemire — left us on something of a cliffhanger, but enough of the characters and stories have converged to give us some idea of where the program will go next.

Rotten Tomatoes had the chance to pose our lingering questions to Lemire, actor Neil Sandilands (who plays antagonist General Abbot), and executive producers Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz about some of the program’s locations, serendipitous moments, and where it might go in a potential second season.


Why Is the Essex County Zoo So Important in the Show?

SWEET TOOTH stars NALEDI MURRAY as and CHRISTIAN CONVERY

(Photo by Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

One of the more unexpected elements of the series — particularly for readers of Lemire’s comics — was the sudden importance of the Essex County Zoo that Aimee (Dania Ramirez) and Wendy (Naledi Murray) were using as a home and sanctuary for Hybrids. Even the name is a surprise as it nods directly to Lemire’s earlier Essex County trilogy of graphic novels — a detail Lemire said eagle-eyed viewers will spot as early as episode 2 before it gets a prominent shot in episode 5.

Beyond its name, the zoo also serves as part of the show’s fairy-tale tone and way to reconcile the program’s relocation of events from Lemire’s home country of Canada to the Midwestern United States.

“Obviously it has a slightly different geography than the comic book because of the Nebraska angle,” he explained. “[But] once we got to New Zealand, it was like, ‘This doesn’t look like Nebraska. How do we [do this?]'”

Soon, the production found “our own real logic or geography” as they “fairy tale-ize” the landscape between Yellowstone National Park, Colorado, and an Essex County, which is a cousin — by way of Lemire’s “rich universe” — to the one he grew up in.

“It is magnificent,” Sandiland said of the set. “It really feels like you’re in a theme park somewhere.”

Although some of the exteriors were shot at the Auckland Zoo, much of the Essex County Zoo was created on a sound stage. The actor recalled a major shot when Abbot first arrives with the Last Men militia. “They had one of those huge extension arms [for the camera]. The vehicles [are] moving in, going all the way, pulling back, and then [the camera goes] all the way across to where Abbott is standing on top of that structure, facing the zoo. That was done on a sound stage. So just to give you an idea of the enormity of it.”

In terms of the narrative, the Zoo will seemingly take the place of the Last Man camp featured in the comic book. That may be the reason why the set is so lovingly rendered by a design team Sandilands called “just next level.” Although, he declined to confirm if the Last Men will be camping there while Dr. Singh (Adeel Akhtar) attempts to process the cure.

Of course, any details of a potential second season are unknown to him and, as it happens, he chose not to read ahead in the comic in order to “make the discovery” of the story as the production progresses; a valid acting choice that may also help explain one of Sandilands’ more distinct visual departures from the character as drawn by Lemire.


Why Does General Abbot Look So Different from the Comic?

SWEET TOOTH stars NEIL SANDILANDS

(Photo by Netflix)

When we spoke to Schwartz before the series debuted earlier this month, she said it was possible the strikingly-long beard Abbot sports may have been Sandilands’ own lockdown beard, a supposition the actor partially confirmed for us.

“Lockdown had quite a bit to do with it,” he said. “I did another little local project [just before Sweet Tooth] where I sported the beard. And I thought, ‘It’s definitely a look, right? There’s something going on there.’ And I just decided to keep growing it. And little did I know that it becomes quite a thing.”

As it turns out, the hair and makeup team were supportive of the choice, going so far as to email Sandilands before he flew to New Zealand to make sure he kept it.

Mickle and Schwartz were also supportive, though some discussions about the beard took place.

“It is a collaborative thing. I think a lot of people have to buy into the look. And we had time to play around with it,” he said. “Jim sent me some of the images that we did on set with a full-on hair, makeup, wardrobe test and when I got those stills, I was really rather surprised in a good way. The look was just so striking with the beard, with the glasses, with the lighting, with the color, everything. So that came as a pleasant surprise. And I think an actor draws from a lot of external input stimulus prior to going on set and starting to build the character.”

Another aspect of the character which may come as a surprise to viewers is his composure — something often lacking in post-apocalyptic warlords.

“Deliberate restraint is always a good thing,” Sandilands said. As we’ve seen in his encounters with Singh, Singh’s predecessor, Dr. Bell (Sarah Peirse), and even the words he said to Aimee from across the Zoo, he presents himself as someone who doesn’t need to raise his voice to get his point across. And as Sandilands sees it, the character strikes a certain mystique. “He’s intriguing enough that you would want to know, like, who the hell is this f—er? What is he really capable of? How deep can we go? I think there’s a lot of miles in that tank left to be explored,” he said.


Is It Serendipity or Is It Supernatural?

SWEET TOOTH stars ADEEL AKHTAR and NONSO ANOZIE

(Photo by Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

Another element the show may explore in a possible second season — Netflix has yet to confirm another is on the way — is the part serendipity seems to play in the story. Consider the way Jep (Nonso Anozie) and Singh had that conversation in an elevator which eventually leads to him accepting Gus ten years later or the way Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen) and Wendy relate to one another. Then there’s the big one: the way the fickle hand of fate has seemingly led all of the characters in the direction of Essex County for what comes next. When asked if it is all coincidence or if some force is at work behind the scenes, Mickle simply raised an eyebrow.

“James Brolin is behind the whole thing,” Lemire joked.

Although, that joke definitely leads to one possible answer. From the eight episodes so far, we’ve heard Brolin’s narrator refer to himself in the first person, have intimate knowledge of the characters pasts, and bind their scenes together thematically before any of them besides Aimee walked near the Zoo. He could be some supernatural force. He could also be Gus in the far future writing all of this down in the storybook style of his father, but if Lemire feels comfortable enough to joke about the narrator’s place in the story at this point, we’ll assume his real role in the story is far more surprising.

Then there is also a supernatural angle if viewers want it: Gus’s hallucinatory dream in the field of flowers which seems to foretell his meeting with Abbot. The mention of it led Mickle to raise his eyebrow again and say, “Gus is tapped into whatever Gus is tapped into, I guess.”

“[In] a circular, very Twin Peaksian way,” Lemire added.

“You could ask the same question about Jeff’s comic books,” Schwartz said. Indeed, comic book Gus has many more dreams than his TV counterpart by the time he first meets Singh — and all without the aid of the flowers growing over the dead. All of them contain at least a drop of prophecy, although we can go back to Lemire invoking Twin Peaks and the way that show always kept a little deniability in the mysticism on display. At least until the third season, anyway. But it is definitely something to keep on the board should Sweet Tooth get its second season.



What Might Season 2 Hold?

Beyond whatever guided the characters to Essex County, there were a few other possibilities the producers were willing to broadly discuss for future seasons. For one thing, more flashbacks — specifically for Birdie (Amy Seimetz) and Richard (Will Forte).

“There’s definitely more room,” Schwartz, who wrote the Birdie and Richard heavy episode 7, said. “It was so much fun tapping into what Richard was like before the pandemic; and Birdie. And they’re Gus’ parents, so there’s more story there to tell.”

Beyond that, we’ve yet to see how Jep wandered from the hospital in search of his wife and child to becoming a Last Man — a story harrowingly rendered by Lemire in an early Sweet Tooth issue — or some other Pre-Crumble moments for Singh and his wife Rani (Aliza Vellani).

And then, of course, there’s Abbot before the Crumble.

“I know that the creators are, wherever they are, they’re in a room, and ideas are being thrown around,” Sandilands said of the possibility. “I mean, me as Neil, I’d love to see it. Looking at the series, I’m intrigued by this fellow, and where he can go.”

Meanwhile, all of those shots of the portrait depicting a tall ship breaking the ice in episodes 7 and 8 have to mean something right? Mickle only offered a “maybe” when asked. Considering how closely the ship is associated with Birdie, it’s not outside the realm of possibility we’ll see it explained — or even the ship itself — if Sweet Tooth continues.

“I think what Sweet Tooth presents in metaphorical value is the absolute necessity for us to be able to form new syntheses, new understanding,” Sandilands added. “Meaning to suggest that we actively have to incorporate anomalous factors and not be scared of synthesizing the new.”

Between the Hybrid children, the implications of Gus’s birth, and the metaphysical undercurrents of the series — to say nothing of its hopeful tone — we hope to be synthesizing new elements of Sweet Tooth for some time.


Tag Cloud

french SXSW Calendar japanese Freeform halloween tv best Extras Acorn TV aapi The Walking Dead godzilla free movies Pirates legend medical drama zombie Travel Channel Rom-Com composers Tomatazos Marvel Television DC Comics technology DirecTV versus Reality Competition Sneak Peek Mystery Baby Yoda supernatural Lionsgate criterion Biopics Crackle TCM Spike Shondaland Kids & Family franchise what to watch SundanceTV true crime period drama Apple TV+ Pop TV series 007 Ovation Photos ITV streaming award winner dceu MSNBC kong Disney Martial Arts news The Academy kids TCA breaking bad GLAAD blockbusters screenings USA anthology Peacock renewed TV shows Anna Paquin police drama black 21st Century Fox Lifetime Christmas movies cats Opinion psychological thriller rotten movies we love venice Toys Rock Mindy Kaling History Amazon Studios X-Men Disney Plus disaster Netflix ID Funimation streaming movies TBS cancelled GIFs video on demand spy thriller Family Brie Larson directors Cannes football psycho reboot 2020 toy story Schedule serial killer remakes Rocketman 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards foreign Comedy Central Red Carpet NBA Fox Searchlight CMT TruTV lord of the rings Exclusive Video Hallmark travel fresh Marvel adventure Pet Sematary President Sundance Now Epix MCU Black History Month Mudbound toronto talk show Grammys Character Guide crime name the review new york jamie lee curtis worst movies indiana jones christmas movies Rocky halloween 2019 Country Comic Book richard e. Grant First Look Comic-Con@Home 2021 Turner Classic Movies robots hist Vudu Tokyo Olympics cartoon 24 frames DC Universe PBS YouTube Red Summer game of thrones spanish dark rt archives Sony Pictures sequels new star wars movies PlayStation Heroines 2021 Premiere Dates war rotten Elton John stand-up comedy Pride Month political drama vampires dragons cults Song of Ice and Fire PaleyFest IFC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sitcom Alien Disney Channel Reality revenge Hear Us Out Hallmark Christmas movies ratings harry potter Western binge italian international aliens The Walt Disney Company Disney streaming service Classic Film Drama television spanish language VH1 71st Emmy Awards 2015 Black Mirror Tarantino boxing Columbia Pictures transformers Food Network Fantasy Sundance TV Amazon Prime Tubi cancelled TV series Universal monster movies dramedy Academy Awards Christmas 99% Writers Guild of America nature know your critic Shudder HBO video WGN Chilling Adventures of Sabrina twilight nbcuniversal high school Winners Apple TV Plus NYCC live action scary movies thriller Paramount Plus joker superhero book See It Skip It Watching Series cars Endgame canceled E! 2016 CW Seed TLC FOX Valentine's Day worst comic books films Music Women's History Month classics Fox News TNT laika Comedy canceled TV shows Dark Horse Comics hollywood Video Games ABC cancelled television cinemax Oscars asian-american Polls and Games anime 72 Emmy Awards justice league animated Adult Swim RT21 CBS All Access YouTube Premium Countdown Stephen King romance CBS Mary Poppins Returns HBO Max telelvision Binge Guide adaptation child's play marvel cinematic universe 2017 Syfy comiccon emmy awards Pacific Islander Superheroes chucky WarnerMedia 2018 BBC One ABC Signature docuseries romantic comedy GoT diversity movie The Purge TCA Awards BBC superman Sundance miniseries Lifetime Best and Worst MTV Disney+ Disney Plus a nightmare on elm street Britbox Mary poppins Superheroe pirates of the caribbean indie Emmys casting documentaries stoner theme song target all-time Spectrum Originals TV Land First Reviews FXX Captain marvel YA Holidays kaiju TCA Winter 2020 prank cancelled TV shows unscripted Musicals discovery Image Comics National Geographic festivals Masterpiece OneApp obituary Marathons science fiction DC streaming service Turner crime drama concert Interview sequel deadpool spinoff blaxploitation Chernobyl LGBT boxoffice saw RT History USA Network scene in color book adaptation SDCC parents based on movie children's TV suspense Certified Fresh TIFF Walt Disney Pictures south america heist movie American Society of Cinematographers Pixar slashers Mary Tyler Moore finale crime thriller Starz BET cooking Ellie Kemper sag awards 45 spider-man Broadway social media Paramount Network batman adenture Holiday Amazon Prime Video YouTube Cosplay archives The Witch politics Avengers australia AMC Ghostbusters mutant razzies Warner Bros. Horror Star Wars strong female leads New York Comic Con Action OWN Amazon dogs elevated horror Esquire ABC Family 1990s screen actors guild king kong ESPN Thanksgiving TV renewals Marvel Studios green book women Hulu APB latino hidden camera Apple reviews golden globes Bravo Nominations universal monsters TV movies Star Trek TV ViacomCBS Lucasfilm Sci-Fi japan Crunchyroll witnail Teen Emmy Nominations comic Trophy Talk comedies jurassic park Paramount DGA die hard mockumentary FX on Hulu FX BET Awards new zealand A&E Pop BBC America singing competition HBO Go natural history BAFTA Trivia facebook 4/20 game show cops satire Infographic Nat Geo Cartoon Network historical drama Awards Tour Wes Anderson docudrama VOD ghosts trailers quibi biography Legendary festival scorecard rom-coms El Rey Nickelodeon Election Television Academy Comics on TV Quiz doctor who movies Showtime IFC Films Musical The Arrangement LGBTQ Film Festival basketball critics independent comics crossover San Diego Comic-Con sports E3 spain tv talk space VICE Logo nfl stop motion hispanic Awards Netflix Christmas movies zombies Trailer NBC dc werewolf Creative Arts Emmys Television Critics Association documentary Super Bowl popular Box Office TV One mission: impossible 93rd Oscars 20th Century Fox The CW Year in Review Podcast zero dark thirty Winter TV Fall TV TCA 2017 Discovery Channel Arrowverse olympics blockbuster Set visit 90s Spring TV teaser CNN Animation A24 Film fast and furious Tumblr golden globe awards james bond