Daybreak [mini-review]

Directed by Various Publishing House: Netflix Released: 10.24.19 Review by | October 23, 2019 at 5:00 PM
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idobi Votes: 7/10 – Sherin Nicole | 6/10 – Alex Bear

Welcome to the apocalypse—you’re late. By the time we meet Josh (Colin Ford), the end of the world has already happened and he’s finally found his place in it (away from everyone else). Adults have turned into “ghoulies” and teenagers rule. Hmm, how do we sum this up? Let us count the ways. On one level Daybreak is a gen Z Lord of the Flies, with a lot of Battle Royale thrown in, set in present-day Glendale. Or you could imagine a bunch of high school cliques got thrown into a Mad Max world, where they defend their territories to the death—then add flesh eating adults. That’s pretty close. Who’s Max? That’d be Josh. He’s the charming seen-it-all “road warrior” we can cheer for, breaking the fourth wall to add an extra layer of satire as he navigates his teen years without any teachers…or police…or adults of any kind. Well, except for one…and you’re going to love her. Wait for it.

Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix

But if you’re expecting the Daybreak graphic novel series by Brian Ralph, this ain’t it. Matter-of-fact, the only similarities between the two are the teenagers in a post apocalyptic world—where ghouls are waiting to eat them alive—and a lead character who speaks directly to us. The graphic novels are stark and slow burning, while the show is a boiling cauldron of everything we mentioned above with a pinch of Y the Last Man, a dash of Buffy, and a slice of Ferris Bueller. 

It’s wild, son. And yes, Daybreak is slightly ridiculous but the show totally leans into it—that’s what makes it work. To quote Ferris Bueller, “it’s a little childish…but then, so is high school.” (We can’t help it, Matthew Broderick is our dude and he plays the tired-of-everything school principal). These characters may be absurd to the point of caricatures but you’ll recognize them from your own school days. The show spends a lot of time making fun and, for the most part, it works. Daybreak tries its best to make you laugh while you cringe at the reminders of what you used to be like when the end of the world really was embarrassing yourself in front of a crush.

Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix

And what kind of teenage-led apocalypse would it be without plenty of those embarrassing moments? Josh is trying to find his one true love Sam (Sophie Simnett) who just ~gets him~. Sam is definitely good at making Josh lose his cool but it’s Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind) who’s here to disrupt his life. She’s the annoying kinda-sorta-friend who’s secretly a badass and she, like, totally defies social norms by being “edgy” [read: downright insulting at times]. The chemistry between the main cast is solid although the dialogue can be a little awkward…but high school is kinda awkward so you’ll forgive it (mostly). And those one liners that take aim at gen Z culture the right way are worth waiting for. 

For a “ghoulie” apocalypse show, Daybreak isn’t scary or all that gory. Instead it’s simply a high school satire using the undead as a jumping off point. The themes and genres aren’t new but they’re mixed together pretty well to make for a fun series that’s lighter than most post-apocalyptic shows (especially for teens—why is everything so dark right now?). Gear up and prepare to snort-laugh at an apocalypse you don’t need to worry about—’cause these kids are the future…if there’s any future at all.

Stream Daybreak on Thursday, only on Netflix.