Sweet Tooth landed on Netflix last week, and part of the reason it resonated with so many viewers was undoubtedly because it depicts a fictional pandemic. The subject matter was highly relevant both during filming and during the premiere — as stars Neil Sandilands and Adeel Akhtar discussed in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com this week.
Akhtar plays Dr. Aditya Singh on Sweet Tooth, while Sandilands plays the villainous General Abbot. The show is based on a comic book series by the same name, and it was developed well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in real life. Filming on the show was delayed due to coronavirus restrictions, but ultimately Akhtar, Sandilands and the rest of the cast convened in New Zealand from October to December of 2020. The actors said that there was no doubt that filming in the midst of a real pandemic had an impact on the final product.
"I sort of feel like there's moments during the filming of it where we just sort of let the world in a little bit, and we were kind of responding to what was going on around the world," Akhtar said. "And the depth of feeling that that created when you're acting in the scene, I feel like sort of comes through in the whole of the series itself. There's moments where you turn it on and you're sort of... It's just so on point that you kind of... And that's because it mirrored what was going on around the world so well!"
Sandilands agreed, saying he wanted to echo Akhtar's sentiments. He also resisted the idea of speculating about how Sweet Tooth would have been different if it had been filmed at a different time, saying: "I don't even want to get into the hypotheticals of 'if we shot it in a different time,' or any of those things. I just think really it was — if you talk about the perfect storm as a metaphor, and all the variables that were involved, and what we manifested, it could only have been exactly, precisely that. Nothing else."
"It couldn't have existed, I don't think, five years prior or five years into the future," he went on. "It was absolutely the right moment in time. Did we all know this? I don't think anybody did. How could you?"
Sweet Tooth is set in the near future, in a world where a plague known only as "The Sick" has ravaged the world and set civilization itself back. It coincided with the emergence of children with animal characteristics — including the main character, a deer-boy named Gus (Christian Convery) — leading to widespread confusion and conflation of the "hybrids" with the pandemic.
Only time will tell how pandemic-related media ages in the years to come, but for now, Sweet Tooth seems to prove that audiences are prepared to face their experiences reflected on screen. Sweet Tooth Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.