Netflix decided to apparently green-light two shows, one for kids, one not, based around the idea that the world ended and left only the young.
The bombs went off and it turns out that they didn’t kill everyone. They just killed most of the adult population and some of the kids. Many of the adults were turned into “Ghoulies,” basically zombies that repeat the last mundane thoughts of their former selves, but a few have become more monstrous abominations. Our protagonist, Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) is a high-schooler with a lot of survival skills that have made him successful during the apocalypse. Together with supergenius Angelica Green (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and Samurai/Jock Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), he seeks to survive the end of the world and rescue his dream girl Samaira Dean (Sophie Simnett), who is actually pretty badass in her own right.
The Last Kids on Earth
A bunch of portals opened up on Earth and it turns out that they didn’t kill everyone. They just killed most of the adult population and some of the kids. Many of the adults were turned into Zombies, which are zombies and I don’t need to explain further, but there are also more monstrous abominations. Our protagonist, Jack Sullivan (Finn Wolfhard) is a middle-schooler with a lot of survival skills that have made him successful during the apocalypse. Together with supergenius Quint Baker (Garland Whitt) and Barbarian/Jock Dirk Savage (Charles Demers), he seeks to survive the end of the world and rescue his dream girl June Del Toro (Montse Hernandez), who is actually pretty badass in her own right.
So, I’m sure I’m not the only one that has pointed out that these are pretty much the same show, but for different age groups. Both shows include a heavy amount of fourth-wall breaking narration not only by the protagonist but also by the side characters and deuteragonists, both shows include a number of references to other media to shortcut their world-building, and both shows literally make a reference to gamifying the apocalypse. Not that either of these are the first things to do any of those, but I find it odd that both series came out only a month or so apart and have so many similarities.
That said, in most other aspects, the shows are wildly different. Obviously, the biggest is that one is live-action and the other is animated, and, ironically, the animated one is adapted from a book while the live-action one is derived from a graphic novel. One is only a single episode so far lasting 60 minutes, while the other is ten 40-50 minute episodes. One is for mature audiences, containing intense gore and cannibalism, and one is for kids, featuring more cartoonish violence (though more than I would have expected). The monsters in Daybreak are either mutated animals or more humanoid aberrations, like the “Witch” Ms. Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez) and Mr. Burr (Matthew Broderick), while the monsters in The Last Kids on Earth range from Kaiju to Eldritch abominations to mutant squirrels (okay, that’s the same). It’s like watching two different people take the same elevator pitch and expand it.
So, here’s my review of each of the shows individually.
Pretty well done. The acting is great, particularly Matthew Broderick and Colin Ford. It has a great sense of humor about itself, such as naming the main character’s love interest Sam Dean, after the leads in Supernatural, a show where Colin Ford played a younger version of the main characters (I’m told that didn’t happen in the comic). The idea of each of the high-school cliques evolving into roving rival gangs was pretty fun, particularly as you observe their interactions, though it drops away as the plot becomes more focused on a central antagonist. It’s a little flashback heavy at times and definitely a little exposition heavy, but it’s still entertaining. The biggest problem is Josh’s plotline being focused solely on finding his ex-girlfriend, something that becomes increasingly ridiculous as the stakes keep raising on everyone else. It also contains a lot of the same tropes that you’d expect from an apocalypse setting, with some working and some not. Still, I enjoyed the series.
That said, having now researched the comic a little, I found out that the series is set in the first-person, something that would have been super interesting for a high-school post-apocalypse series like this. Admittedly, it would probably have gotten old quickly, but I still kind of want to see it.
The Last Kids on Earth
Also pretty well done, though short. The monsters are creative and the main character is believably flawed. It also contains a lot of shots of the main characters trying to find some comfort and enjoyment in the apocalypse, like turning various acts into “achievements” complete with video game symbols. It also helps that, while the main character is good at surviving, the “damsel” he aims to rescue is far superior at combat. Also, he’s a total stalker. While the protagonist of Daybreak is looking for his girlfriend, the love interest in this is someone that Jack Sullivan just has a crush on. Still, he’s a middle schooler, so it’s a little bit forgivable.
Both of these are pretty good and I would recommend checking them both out.
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