By Dave B.
Daybreak (Netflix) takes place six months after a chemical/nuclear/biological attack on Los Angeles has turned all adults into flesh-eating monsters, incapable of higher thought and animals have been mutated in freakish versions of their former selves. The various high-school cliques in the area have carved out their own fiefdoms. Josh, the “main” protagonist of the show, is on a quest to find his lost love and has concluded that doing so on his own is the best way to proceed. However, after teeming up with a pacifist samurai and a young pyro, Josh finds himself thrust into a power struggle that will determine if humanity will have any sort of future.
Frankly, Daybreak is a weird show. Not weird in the sense that it’s incomprehensible. Weird in the sense that it’s difficult to determine who the show’s target audience really is. Clearly, the show is intended for a teenage audience, as it focuses on many issues that people that age face in America. But the adult language in the show (especially the foul-mouthed and funny 10 year old genius/firebug, Angelica) make this show more appropriate for adults. The show often vacillates between being humorous and touching, but in unexpected ways and at seemingly random times. That’s not a necessarily a negative quality, but it makes it difficult to emotionally invest in the character’s relationships, at times. Daybreak also has some odd choices in tone. For example, it relentlessly skewers excessive political correctness, while at the same time wholeheartedly embracing and promoting these excesses. It’s difficult to know what this show’s larger message is, or if it has a larger message at all.
Daybreak works best when it’s four primary characters are onscreen together. They have a lot of chemistry that feeds the genuine, if inconsistent, humor that pervades the show. Unfortunately, there is a stretch of about three episodes in the 10 episode series where the group is separated and those episodes are of obviously lower entertainment appeal than other episodes. Daybreak has surprisingly robust and interesting world-building and both primary and secondary characters are generally likeable. But the show’s plot has difficulty maintaining it’s focus both within episodes and throughout the season. It has stretches that seem more like they serve to fill an episode’s 45 minute runtime, than to add to the relatively interesting story.
In short, Daybreak is interesting and entertaining at times, but wildly inconsistent in plot and tone which means that it’s quality is variable throughout the season. I wouldn’t describe it as particularly original in any way, but it’s humor and execution are odd enough that I can say that I’ve never seen anything quite like it either. I’m tentatively recommending Daybreak, but only for those who are fans of both weirdness (generally), and creative storytelling execution (more specifically). If the show gets a second season, I’ll check it out, but it won’t be on my must-watch list.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.