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NYCC 2019: Epic Teen Mayhem on ‘Daybreak’

High school is hard enough, but add in the apocalypse and you’ve got a recipe for epic mayhem. At this year’s New York Comic-Con, Netflix’s debuted the first episode of Daybreak, the teen post-apocalyptic series based on the graphic novel of the same name by Brian Ralph. The show follows Josh Wheeler as he navigates this new landscape trying to reunite with his lady love Sam Dean and along the way discovers a tribe of his own.

The Workprint had a chance to chat with cast members Matthew Broderick, Colin Ford, Austin Crute, Jeante Godlock, Gregory Kasyan, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Krysta Rodriguez, and Sophie Simnett as well as executive producers Aron Eli Coleite, Brad Peyton, and Jeff Fierson on all things Daybreak.

The series goes back and forth to show audiences life before and after the massive explosion that triggers Armageddon, but a big part of the story focuses on the different factions that currently inhabit the world of Glendale. Various typical high school groups as the jocks, the cheerleaders, the gamers, the science nerds, and others were all represented on the show, albeit taken to a whole new level. It’s a bit Mad Max, Lord of The Flies, and Ferris Bueller all rolled into one entertainingly binge-able series. While new gangs are also brought into the show, it’s all about finding your tribe and how all these groups click together in this new dystopian reality.

Taking inspiration from cult classic Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the producers sought to give audiences horror, humor, and heart as touchpoints because if they could make someone scared, laugh, and cry in a single hour of television then they’ve accomplished their mission. When the trio brought this mindset into the writer’s room, they were able to realize this vision through via differing point of view of various characters. Daybreak aims to constantly surprise viewers with shifting perspectives. The producers explained that almost every single episode felt like rewriting a pilot and reinventing the language of the series. They wanted each character to pop and have a compelling narrative while making the stakes as real as possible with humor and optimism still present.

Part of the appeal for some individuals on the show is that high school may have sucked for them, but now they have been given a chance to completely reinvent themselves. For instance, Wesley Fists (Austin Crute) goes from jock to a samurai pacifist. Crute teases that we don’t really know what happened to create that drastic change in his character, but he ends up becoming friends with individuals you would never have expected him to have a relationship with. Meanwhile, Mona Lisa (Jeante Godlock) who had been the only girl on the football team, now enjoys the position of second in command of the jocks (with Turbo Bro Jock as their wordless leader). She holds an authoritative bad ass role within their community and had taken charge when previously she had just been there pre-end of the world. The actor adds that her character represents a strong female presence within her tribe.

“When she says jump, you say how high?” said Godlock.

The cast of Netflix’s Daybreak at NYCC 2019 (The Workprint/Nicole C)

Meanwhile, Eli Cardashyan (Gregory Kasyan) undergoes his own transformation from bullied kid to king of the mall after the bomb explodes. Previously because his family wasn’t as well off as others, he was picked on for having knock off items (think Pike instead of Nike). Now he has everything he could have dreamed off and turns the tables on those who once made his life a living hell.

“Unlike the typical dystopian futures that we’ve seen in movies and television, this is actually the best thing that ever happened to these teenagers, “ Coleite said, “All the adults are gone or they’ve turned into monsters. This is an opportunity for the kids to make their own world.”

Colin Ford who plays lead Josh Wheeler, explains how his character went from an average guy in school into the best version of himself. Josh wants to just fit in and while his friends may view him as a natural leader, he wouldn’t describe himself as such. When the apocalypse arrives, he just wants to find his girlfriend Sam and live the most epic life he can. Sophie Simnett (who plays Sam) adds that despite the circumstances of the apocalypse, Josh’s basic need to be accepted hasn’t changed.

“It takes people to say hey we’re here, we want to be part of your family for him to be like, oh this could be home for me,” said Ford.

The show’s allegory is that high school is hellish and it’s like surviving the apocalypse. The producers aim to take everyone on a ride where we don’t know where the story is going while displaying growth and unexpected twists and turns. “You can’t guess what’s going to happen on the show. It’s so bonkers and every character’s journey just goes in a way that we had no idea. We were getting the scripts while filming and going to each other, have you read episode eight yet, did you know that happens, this is crazy!” said Simnett, “It’s nice to know that each character gets their own story told in different episodes so that’s definitely something to look forward to.”

But what is a dystopian series without zombies? Daybreak has their own unique spin on the undead creatures called ghoulies. For a yet to be determined reason,  mainly only adults were affected and now they say the last ridiculous thought they had such as “I really need to get off Facebook because it’s so toxic.” However, don’t underestimate the ghoulies because they are fast and deadly.

“You never know what might happen to someone if they get bit by a ghoulie,” Ford said.

Well we can all certainly look forward to finding out!

Watch the trailer now:

Daybreak streams on Netflix October 24.

About Nicole C

Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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