The Netflix COVID-19 release, Sweet Tooth, has finally concluded its third and last season. Critics have described the series as a satisfying conclusion to the epic, which has stayed true to the philosophical themes explored in its first season. Sweet Tooth follows a post-apocalyptic plot where a fatal disease called The Sick has reduced the world’s population to just around a million people. Around the same time, people began to give birth to half-animal-half-human babies, hybrids, as the show calls them.

In Sweet Tooth’s world, nature is plentiful and flourishing, yet humankind has been forced to make sacrifices: killing off a majority of the planet’s population in exchange for a paltry existence in which the next generation barely looks human. Everything portrayed in the show embodies a post-human consciousness, a contemporary school of philosophy that emphasizes that humans are not separate from or superior to the natural world, but deeply interconnected with and dependent on it. 

This philosophical movement came about in light of today’s world, plagued by a dying planet, climate change and mass extinction, where human existence relies on appeasing Mother Earth. Hence, Sweet Tooth becomes a cautionary tale, reminding people to try their best to stop mass environmental degradation. This is why the show is relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action, Life on Land and Life Below Water.

Still from Sweet Tooth, Gus (Christian Convery), Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie) and Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen) set out to find Gus’ mother and a cure to The Sick. Image courtesy of Sweet Tooth’s IMDb.

Sweet Tooth follows the story of one of those hybrids, Gus (Christian Convery), a ten-year-old deer boy who is believed to be the first of the hybrids. Different set about hunting him, as they believe he may hold the key to curing The Sick and discovering why hybrids are born. Despite this, Gus has a very positive look on life, he believes in the best of humanity, which frequently leads him to trust the wrong people. Still, his courage and fervent hope lead him to search for a cure for The Sick, all while changing people’s perspectives of hybrids as they are stigmatized as the impure creatures who have brought The Sick.

Still from Sweet Tooth, Dr. Aditya Singh (Adele Akhtar) smiles happily in a brief moment of reprieve. Image courtesy of Sweet Tooth’s IMDb.

The characters Gus meets along the way are complex. No one is truly evil. They are all a product of their circumstances and beliefs, creating a compelling narrative that has sustained the series for three seasons. It tells the tale of those who, for myriad reasons, have been spared from the tragedy and have to live on in Sweet Tooth’s world where humanity is facing imminent extinction. Their stories conclude in a bittersweet “happy ending,” where human beings kept birthing hybrids despite a cure for The Sick being found.

This is a direct call-back to A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna J. Haraway, one of the principal books of post-humanist teachings. The Cyborg Manifesto said that with regard to current conditions, the only logical way humankind could evolve and survive as a species is if they were to turn themselves into cyborgs. These beings are either part machine, animal or a mix of both. For Sweet Tooth, hybrids are the cyborgs that Haraway wrote about, a logical next step in human evolution that would allow humanity to thrive on a changing planet.

Still from Sweet Tooth, Rosie Zhang (Kelly Marie Tran) storms away from her mother who is trying to restart human birth. Image courtesy of Sweet Tooth’s IMDb.

The series concluded with Gus finally understanding that human beings are complex. That they are equally good and bad. Therefore, he made the choice to let nature run its course and decide the fate of humankind. At the end of the day, Sweet Tooth exclaims that there is still hope for humanity to coexist with a world that has been brutally transformed due to human actions and that this will only happen if they choose to make necessary sacrifices, change their ways and hope that nature will spare them in return.

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