Netflix's YA Post-Apocalyptic Drama 'Daybreak' Is a Crazy, Bloody, Violent Ride

Emily Aslanian
Preview Corey Nickols/Contour by Getty Images

How would you choose to behave if it was the end of the world? For the surviving teenagers of Glendale, California, everything is pretty much the same—just a whole lot worse.

In Netflix's upcoming 10-episode dark, post-apocalyptic dramedy Daybreak, based on Brian Ralph’s 2006 graphic novel, kids and teenagers are the only survivors after a bomb detonates, turning everyone over the age of 18 into a zombie-like Ghoulie. What comes next is a look at what the world becomes when there's only crazy, hormonal, violent, over-emotional teenagers left. Let's just say, it takes the idea of clique culture and brings it to a whole other level. Wait until you see what the football team evolves into.

The series, from showrunner Aron Eli Coleite (Star Trek: Discovery), and executive producers Brad Peyton (Rampage) and Jeff Fierson, follows the seemingly average Josh (Colin Ford), a recent transfer student and relative-unknown to his peers, as he journeys throughout what's left of the world in search of his true love/girlfriend Sam (Sophie Simnett). "Josh is separated from Sam at the blast," Ford reveals. "Right before the bomb goes off he is looking for Sam, and when it [explodes], he is left without her, and she is the first person he wants to get to."

Along the way, he recruits—unwillingly—some pals to help in his cause: the formerly-bullied Eli (Gregory Kasyan) who is using the apocalypse to stock up on the Air Jordans he could never have IRL and Wesley (Austin Crute) a "football star-turned-pacifist samurai," according to Crute. And then there's Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind). The 10-year-old pyromaniac neighbor of Josh is more than just a fire-hungry babysitter's nightmare. "I wanted to make sure when playing her that she wasn’t just some brat," Lind previews. "It’s been fun to see those layers unfold throughout the season and see the vulnerable 10-year-old girl that’s inside this hard-to-crack shell."

It's a Dangerous New World as Netflix's YA Apocalypse Series 'Daybreak' Hits NYCC

It's a Dangerous New World as Netflix's YA Apocalypse Series 'Daybreak' Hits NYCC

The showrunners and cast, including Matthew Broderick, gave some intel on the series they say is like 'Ferris Bueller on bath salts.'

Meanwhile, mystery girl Sam dubbed the "Queen of Glendale" by her fellow students will remain an enigma. For now. "What’s interesting about Sam is that the audience discovers her through the eyes of other characters," Simnett says. "We see her through Josh’s point-of-view, Angelica’s, everyone's, so it’s really interesting how she’s created through other people."

There are plenty of other chaotic things going on in Glendale's Ghoulie-infested streets beside the search for Sam to keep viewers entertained. For starters, one particular clique has strongarmed themselves into an elite position of power—the high school football team. One player, the team's only female, Mona Lisa (Jeanté Godlock), has since taken charge of her male cohorts. "She tells everyone what to do and all those boys that she was on the football team with, now she’s in charge of them," Godlock says. "When she says 'jump' you say, 'how high?' and you don’t ask questions."

Netflix

Along with Mona Lisa's terrifyingly enormous teammate Turbo (Cody Kearsley), the jocks have created entertainment in the form of a mash-up live show they call American Ninja Idol. Contestants hop onstage to sing for the footballers (a la American Idol). If Turbo isn't pleased, they get dumped into a pit of hungry Ghoulies, thus kickstarting the Ninja part of it. However, it isn't that simple. "It’s still up to Turbo if you make it past that," Godlock says ominously. In addition to playing some pretty sick games, the team wreaks complete havoc and destruction throughout Glendale and will stand in the way of Josh's mission.

It isn't all chaos though. There are a few normal moments of the high school pre-apocalypse to be seen and plenty of flashbacks that serve as a breath of fresh air from the dramas of the destructed world. That former life includes Ferris Bueller's Day Off star Matthew Broderick, who plays Principal Burr. "He’s a well-liked principal at the school, but he’s also a little bit bitter about his job with budget cuts and things like that," Broderick says. "[But he's got] a lot of school spirit!" Keep an eye out for Ferris Bueller references aplenty, by the way. Bueller? ....Bueller?

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One particular baddie coming up embodies the exact opposite of Burr's school-spirited attitude: biology teacher Ms. Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez). "Ms. Crumble always wanted to be inspiring," Rodriquez says. "She wanted to empower a generation and grow a whole new crop of female scientists. But like Principal Burr, she learns the bureaucracy of being a teacher and feels very defeated about that." Unfortunately, it gets a whole lot worse for her in the apocalypse before it gets better when Crumble evolves into the Witch, a brain-traumatized part-adult who aims to eat the children. Yes, really.

But, as stated, it does get better! "She meets [the kids] and realizes that this is what she’s been wanting all this time—for everyone to own their curiosity and their power," Rodriguez says. The Witch and Angelica will team up to do some crazy science and get to the bottom of what the bomb did to all the adults. "I've been likening her to Sloth from The Goonies," Rodriguez says with a laugh. "She's the lovable giant that joins up to protect [the kids] from people who want to eat them, even though she still deeply wants to [eat them] herself."

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There's also a battle with Ghoulie Mall Santas, a bloody water balloon fight and so much more going on. In an impossibly packed world of wild moments, you'll have to tune in to Daybreak later this week for more. That wouldn't be the end of the world, right?

Daybreak, Season 1 Premiere, Thursday, October 24, Netflix