Daybreak (2019, Netflix) Review
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
"We are a tree. Different parts, different tribes, all searching for an identity. We're all different, but also all connected. All together."
-Mavis, Daybreak (2019) Netflix Original Series
Refreshing like ice cold lemonade on a hot summer's day, Netflix's original series Daybreak (2019), tells a story that is both unique and familiar at the same time. Daybreak is a coming of age story for the Alien generation and 28 Days Later kids alike; though it offers a comedic tone akin to Edgar Wright's Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World's End trilogy. Indeed, the blending between horror, comedy, drama, and coming of age genres is seamless in Daybreak; the series ultimately escapes a singular definition. The genre-blending achieved in Daybreak isn't the only thing that sets it apart - the powerful young acting, dazzling special effects and witty screenwriting are also stand out features.
Originally a comic book series created by Brian Ralph in 2013, Daybreak (2019) takes place in a typical high school setting, with typical high school characters - except when they throw in a nuclear bomb and (nearly) all the adults are killed, the surviving kids of Glendale high school divide up into different MadMax style factions, including: the jocks, the cheermazons, golf team, 4-H Club, and one of my personal favorites, the Game Overs. This colorful cast of characters provides a number of powerful identities, including woke gay samurai, Wesley, Slime Queenpin/evil genuis, Angelica Green, Mall King, Eli Cardasian (no relation), and the elusively complex homecoming Queen, Sam Dean. The story evolves around the adorably naieve yet cunning, Josh Wheeler, who has set out to get back his girl from an evil dooer. The story is tried and true, yet riddled with unexpected plot twists... especially for the golf team.
Daybreak is guaranteed to give you a good laugh thinking about the awkwardness of your teen years, but it also makes you nostalgic. The writing and acting comes across as very authentic for a coming of age story. The dialogue breaks barriers into a metaphysical space where the viewer is encouraged to reflect on their own identity as a teen. These teens struggle with sexuality, social identity, love, success/failure, parental guidance, and mental health. These topics are powerful and timeless because they remind us that all human beings struggle throughout our lives - not just in the teen years. This series will shock and appall grotesquely in one moment, and then show you the true power of friendship in the next. The characters in Daybreak are genuine because they make mistakes, and that is human. It is up to the viewer to decide who is worth redeeming in the end.
Netflix has officially announced that Daybreak will not return for a second season, and so it will officially go down in the books as a one season wonder. Still, I'm glad for the zombified trip down memory lane. Some tears were shed and feels were felt. If you're looking for something binge-worthy and morbidly nostalgic, look no further than Daybreak for your next post-apocalyptic fix.
An excerpt from Daybreak:
Sam: "Sunflowers are polymorphs, they can be more than one thing at once. They're food, medicine, and they can even absorb heavy metals and radiation. We, you and I Josh, we've got to be sunflowers. This is the time we are supposed to experiment, find who we are. But how can I when I'm terrified that some asshole out there is gonna post a comment that shreds my soul? I should be able to fuck whoever I want whenever I want without judgement. You want a girly-friend. A sweetheart. A blow-up doll who will do the things you want her to do. Well guess what, Wheeler? I might want to be polyamorous, I might want to join a thruple, or be asexual, or demi, or gyne. The dusty old names like "virgin" and "slut" were made by men to put women in Barbie doll packages with easy to read labels. Well, I'm no queen. I am not a queen. Not a queen or a slag, or the saint that everyone seems to think I am on social media. I'm a kid. I don't know who I am."
Josh: "I know who you are."
Sam: "Who am I ?"
Josh: "You're Sam Dean."