Season 1 of Netflix’s Daybreak debuted a few months ago in October 2019. I ignored it constantly as it kept popping up in featured or Trending or whatever feed Netflix felt like shoving in my face that day. For whatever reason, I caved and finally watched it.
Daybreak is your typical high school post-apocalyptic/zombie survival story- which is precisely its problem. There is literally nothing unique or different about Daybreak. To summarize, its just a really ugly mash-up of every trope or cliche in these genres with a constant boredom factor that it couldn’t seem to quite get away from.
Maybe it was the uninspired story, the lousy writing, or the terrible cast performances- or perhaps it was a combination of all those, as Daybreak tried so very little to set itself above the rest. Instead, we get a vein attempt at humor from each episode by the characters who constantly feel the need to point out the tropes and cliches of the genre in an overly zealous on-the-nose sort of way while following them on a nearly identical and uninspired path anyway, completely devoid of even the most subtle of nuisances.
Unfortunately, Daybreak tried too hard to let audiences know that it was different from other Mad Max or 28 Days Later type films (even though this is a web series), and then followed right along those paths anyway. The entire time I sat through and wondering when the series would do something fresh, unique, or innovative, but instead it just deliberately chose to copy so many stories before it, poking fun at itself along the way, giving off the impression that it had nothing new or creative of its own to offer. It was almost as if the writers didn’t have any unique stories of their own and figured having a bunch of young twenty-somethings portraying high school teens and using text abbreviations in casual verbal conversation was enough to keep audiences interested. Surprising to no one- it wasn’t.
The cast wasn’t all bad, though. I did like leading man Colin Ford as Josh Wheeler, although the writing bogged him down a bit too much as it desperately tried to avoid looking like a Ferris Bueller knockoff to no avail. Perhaps even worse, though, were Jeanté Godlock’s and Cody Kearsley’s cringeworthy performances as Mona Lisa and Turbo Bro Jock. Every line, or grunt, from either of these two, felt like a forced, uncomfortable, high school play. There was never a moment where either of these two came across as believable badasses despite all their best attempts at using F*** bombs every five minutes or inaudible grunts to appear that way.
The plot of the story was equally as uninspired. A bunch of high school kids in Glendale, California survive a nuclear blast, adults turn to zombies that speak their last thoughts (as if this was going to make it interesting or funny somehow- it wasn’t/didn’t), and mutated animals that served next to no purpose. And of course, they fortify themselves in the local mall, because that too has never been done before. Then, of course, the main plot involves a guy trying to save a girl who is far too unique for him to understand, and he has to make amends with her while trying to be the hero and ugh. Yikes, guys.
Daybreak suffers from the classic blunders of combing two male egos with no good ideas who then somehow managed to pitch an idea to Netflix that impressed someone somehow just enough to get a first season greenlight. I mean, I get that it probably seemed like a billion-dollar idea to hire the guy who wrote Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and some guy who happened to write a couple of arcs for Ultimate X-Men. I mean, just wow.
But seriously, Brad Peyton and Aron Eli Coleite should probably stay away from television, because if Daybreak was any more derivative, you would expect these two getting sued by a dozen or more companies for copyright. It is no wonder that Netflix canceled season 2 just a couple months after season 1 debuted. They probably had a dozen cease and desist letters flooding their mailboxes demanding that they stop.