It's a Dangerous New World as Netflix's YA Apocalypse Series 'Daybreak' Hits NYCC
It’s the end of the world as they know it…
Netflix’s upcoming teen apocalypse drama Daybreak is a bloody, violent, cuss-filled, pop culture-packed adventure. It's based on Brian Ralph’s 2006 graphic novel, and the story is told from the perspective of Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford), an ordinary Canadian teenager, transplanted in Glendale, California, who discovers he is enjoying the end of the world much more than he anticipated.
Nuclear bombs carrying radiation wipe out major cities and turn everyone who is 18+ years old around the world into a zombie-like creature called Ghoulies. It's a hilarious take on what it means to be braindead, as these not-zombies repeat the last thought they had in life pre-explosion. So, the world is left to the kids. And that world quickly unfolds into a heightened version of high school — basically, cliques, like jocks and 4-H club kids, are now a lot deadlier than they used to be.
On Friday, October 4 at New York Comic Con, con-goers packed into Javits for an exclusive NYCC world premiere screening. After the viewing, the cast and creatives gathered together for a panel, including showrunner Aron Eli Coleite (Star Trek: Discovery), director/executive producer Brad Peyton (Rampage), executive producer Jeff Fierson, and cast members Matthew Broderick, Ford, Sophie Simnett, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Austin Crute, Jeanté Godlock, and Gregory Kasyan.
Near the beginning of the panel discussion, Fierson perfectly described the 10-episode dark comedy to a room that immediately filled with laughter: “It’s Ferris Bueller on bath salts.”
Pretty much. Not only does Josh spend most of his time talking directly into the camera, but there are Ferris Bueller references left and right throughout the first episode. And of course, the casting of Broderick as the high school’s Principal Burr is just the icing on the cake.
The actor admits he was immediately drawn to the story after being sent the script (which was written with him in mind). “It’s a good arc,” Broderick says with an enigmatic smile. Although if/how Burr fits into the post-apocalyptic world remains a mystery for now, there is a Burr-centric episode coming up, where the execs teased Broderick got to do some things on screen folks haven’t seen before.
But at the start, and at its heart, the central storyline revolves around Josh, and the companions who join him, going on a search for Josh's girlfriend Sam Dean (Simnett) in this dangerous new world. “[Sam’s] a really authentic character,” Simnett says. “She is the popular girl at school, but she’s not the catty, mean girl.” It’s a refreshing take. In Josh’s efforts to relocate Sam, he’ll make enemies, new friends and face some really crazy end-of-the-world encounters.
One such wild event within the series: American Ninja Idol. An American Idol-American Ninja Warrior hybrid the post-apocalyptic warrior jocks use as entertainment. If a competitor's performance isn't up to par — they get dumped into a pit of Ghoulies. If the competitor then survives that, it's still up to the jock ruler whether or not they survive. "If kids didn't have TV anymore," Fierson explains, "this is what they'd create. We all love singing shows, like The Voice or American Idol, but [in this] there are real stakes. Actual ones."
It won't all be murder and games though. "[Eventually] they have to rebuild society," Broderick says. "And they start to make the same mistakes their parents made." Yikes.
There was also one extremely interesting question posed during the panel that will affect the future they will build towards: what happens to these teens (like Josh, who is 17-years-old when we meet him) when they turn 18? Do they turn to Ghoulies? “[That’s] something you will find out later in the show,” Fierson teases. “There is an answer, I promise.”
For now, we’ll have to wait to get those answers—but not too long, thankfully.
Daybreak, Season 1 Premiere, Thursday, October 24, Netflix