I love binge watching – some things. My tastes are singular and revolve around the crime and mystery of Chicago PD and SVU. So as a late comer to Netflix (okay I’m a boomer) I did not realize I could binge watch a whole series in one sitting the same way I binge on my favorite reruns. What a delight to sit down and get lost in the fantasy world of Sweet Tooth.
Now Sweet Tooth did not scare me like Contagion, which I watched On-Demand two days in a row at the very beginning of the pandemic. That real life drama had me sign up for a course with Coursera on contact tracing and I became paranoid of anyone and everyone. I’ve since lightened up when most people have doubled down because of the Delta variant. Almost everyone I know has suffered from our version of “the sick”.
“The Sick” is the premise of Sweet Tooth. The series is about a post-apocalyptic world where a viral infection caused havoc on earth and out of the dust a new species of beings emerged: the Hybrids. What came first, the virus or the Hybrids no one is really sure – the inference is the virus but the Hybrids are hunted and are hated by the humans that have survived.
The Hybrids are these adorable children with animal characteristics. Gus, the first Hybrid we meet, and a central character, is half human half deer. The first thing that came to my mind was “Animal Farm” because the story line is so dystopian. I flashed on books like the “Chronicles of Narnia” or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Lord of the Flies” while binging. Truth be told Sweet Tooth is based on a comic strip and is a coming of age story so I was not so far off.
There are many character actors in Sweet Tooth who are heroes and heroines. All are to be commended for their performances. We at Dark Matters Mag had the great pleasure and honor to meet one such actress, Dania Ramirez, who portrayed Aimee Eden. When we first meet Aimee she is a therapist, overwhelmed with life in general, living and working in the city, and we see the hamster wheel she is caught up in.
“It is after the “Big Crumble” happens that she walks outside her office into a post apocalyptic world where nature has reclaimed its Earth and animals are running free, that she sees an opportunity to restart her journey; it is when she meets the most precious half pig/half human baby girl that she really begins to understand her purpose.”
Amiee knows exactly where she is going to call her new home. The zoo. Barricaded inside the gates and walls of what used to welcome visitors she became a mother to an adorable orphaned Hybrid half human half pig girl. The only telling sign that the child was Hybrid was the nose.
In real life Ramirez is mother to 7 year-old twins. The role of a mother was quite natural for Ramirez and she evolved within it.
“My kids are my everything and my family gives me my purpose, so spending that time at home with them and then finding a new appreciation for nature through this role while in the midst of a pandemic has changed me for the better. As the episodes kept coming in, I saw Aimee become a Mother-like figure for all orphan hybrid kids stopping at nothing to protect them and just like her I believe in doing my part in making this world a better, more hopeful place for my kids to grow up in.”
Ramirez is not new to filming a fantasy series. She is also not new to filming a series away from her family. Sweet Tooth was filmed in New Zealand. In 2017 she was cast as Cinderella in Season 7 of the Once Upon a Time TV series which was filmed in Vancouver. That proved to be a difficult period for her personally as she battled health issues at the time and realized her own vulnerability as a human. Yet, Ramirez has resilience and that comes from an upbringing that truly is a rags to riches story.
Ramirez was born in the Dominican Republic in what can only be described as very poor roots: no running water or electricity. Her parents immigrated to the United States first and left her behind to be raised by a grandmother and other relatives. When she was ten she joined her parents to live in New York. The culture shock was startling and not speaking English made it all the harder.
By the time she was fifteen she got a job as a bag checker and like most bored teens she tried to amuse herself while on duty: she danced around when there was nothing to do. That little activity caught the attention of a modeling agent and suddenly she got auditions around town. One day she landed a role in a small Spike Lee production for HBO. That was the start of her acting career. She attended college and attended the Actors Workshop Studio in New York at the same time. When she was twenty she left for Los Angeles with $2500 and the rest is history.
“I have always felt different than most people, especially because I felt people’s perception of who I really am is very different than how I feel. I think that has helped me try to find a way to connect with people. I have been through a lot in my life, and was bullied from a very young age but somehow I saw it as a good thing. It made me stronger and in accepting my life and myself and forgiving others and my own mistakes gives me the super power of compassion and empathy. I am very grateful.”
Sweet Tooth is a story about love, resilience, and hope. The parallels of the timing of release during the pandemic underscore the feelings of isolation and fear of the other – pitting people against people. Differences are not embraced; rather they are attacked. Ramirez believes that Sweet Tooth is her most challenging role yet. She wanted the role to do more than entertain people.
“This story is one of hope in the darkest of times and I truly am committed to spreading that message in our society today.”
Sweet Tooth is on Netflix and I highly recommend it!
Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)