You say apocalypse like it's a bad thing. pic.twitter.com/fpqCAa8WiP
— Daybreak (@daybreak) October 11, 2019
Let me preface this review by saying I am not an avid reader of graphic novels, nor am I necessarily a fan of the zombie apocalypse genre. But I do enjoy spending time with my dad watching whatever random Netflix show he finds, and “Daybreak” was one of those shows. I had not seen any promotions for this series, but it was released on Netflix just before Halloween on Oct. 24.
Much like Netflix’s hit show of the spring, “The Umbrella Academy,” “Daybreak” was also based on a comic book series, written by Brian Ralph in 2011. The series combines various classic ingredients of “good television” that end up falling a bit short. One of these components is first-person narration. The main character Josh (Colin Ford) breaks the fourth wall to share flashbacks and side comments with the audience. There’s also high school cliques, zombies and gory fighting. Think of it as “Hunger Games” meets zombie apocalypse meets “Saved by the Bell.”
The story revolves around a social outcast, Josh, who hits his popularity stride after an unexplained explosion and outbreak in his California hometown. After the incident, all adults were afflicted with a zombie-like disease and kids took to the streets, creating rival gangs to survive the “ghoulies.” Josh has free reign; living in mansions, driving sports cars and never really committing to any one of the competing groups while he searches for his dream girl, Sam (Sophie Simnett).
Ford does a decent job portraying the character. For someone who had not been introduced to the graphic novels, I thought he was smart and quippy. Quite honestly, nothing set this main character apart from any other mediocre white lead. Josh was by no means the most lovable character, but I think his role in the story ultimately served its purpose.
The level of stereotyping and grouping “jocks” versus “nerds” was clearly meant to be comical and satirical, but it was so ridiculous and overexaggerated I found a hard time staying engaged. Throughout the series, those lower on the social hierarchy, like the golf team, get picked off one by one at the whim of star football player, Turbo Bro Jock (Cody Kearsley). The whole thing seemed rather contrived, and could have been executed better.
While the 10-episode series may not have been progressive in its depiction of high school cliques, one thing it did well was remove some of the discrimination based on gender or sexuality that does occur in high school. Some of the characters were open members of the LGBTQIA+ community and there were a lot of one-liners about how, in the apocalypse, none of that matters.
The supporting cast was the only thing that sets this post-apocalyptic comedy-drama series apart. Josh and Sam’s love story is a traditional one until the very end, and many of the episodes were long and drawn out. It was characters like the spunky child-genius Angelica Green (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and reformed bully Wesley Fists (Austin Crute) that made the show worth watching. Their humor and on-screen chemistry gave the narrative something different and refreshing.
Otherwise, the show spent too much time working toward the ending. The search for Sam and the brute violence throughout becomes tiresome. The show was clearly aimed toward a particular audience, and the writers tried almost too hard to get a laugh.
While it touches on some serious conversations that are relevant to young people, and it does have some funny moments, the show was ultimately disappointing and would have benefitted from a bit more nuance. The premise was strong, but the execution was poor. It seems like in the era of the streaming service war, Netflix should try to be a little more competitive with their original content.
Season 1 left viewers with a lot of unanswered questions and unresolved relationships. Netflix has not yet announced a second season.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @Daybreak on Twitter
Julia Mancini is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.