And you thought your high school experience felt like the end of the world.
EW has an exclusive first look at Netflix’s dystopian dramedy Daybreak, centering on an apocalypse-ravaged Glendale, Calif., and the teenagers who’ve taken over. A nuclear blast has transformed adults into brain-dead, bloodthirsty savages, so to survive, the local high schoolers have banded together into Warriors-esque gangs, carving out their own laws and domains. (The athletes and the cheerleaders have their own circles, of course, but so do the 4-H Club and the self-proclaimed disciples of Kardashia.)
Navigating it all is Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford), the new kid from Canada who has to traverse each crew’s territory to try to find his missing girlfriend Sam (Sophie Simnett).
“It feels like to survive high school you need a tribe, and to survive the apocalypse you need a tribe,” explains showrunner Aron Eli Coleite. “That’s how we get through this: with our friends.”
Josh’s journey takes him across Glendale and through each gang’s home turf, where he has to contend with new rules and rivalries. The jocks, for example, have formed a Mad Max-like murder club led by the mute, football-player-turned-Immortan-Joe-type Turbo (Cody Kearsley) and his right-hand woman Mona Lisa (Jeanté Godlock). Meanwhile, the cheerleaders now roam the streets as an Amazonian tribe of warrior women.
The result is a bloody, brutal battle for survival, but there’s also an anarchic sense of wish fulfillment, too.
“[The show has] this optimistic view of the end of the world,” Coleite says. “It immediately transported me back to high school and feeling like, ‘Man, I would love it if the world ended right now because I could totally reinvent myself. I could be anybody else.’ And I think that that’s a really common thing that a lot of us felt in high school.”
Fortunately for Josh, he finds allies in the 10-year-old pyromaniac Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and the pacifist Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), a reformed jock who’s now styled himself as a peace-loving, nonviolent samurai.
In their search for Sam, the unlikely trio have to watch out for the murderous adults now roaming Glendale. They’re not exactly zombies, per se, but they are brainless and bloodthirsty. “When you are a kid, you look at adults as being a little brain dead and a little dumb,” Coleite jokes. “So it’s not a mistake that we made the adults the monsters in the story.”
And speaking of adults, the cast also includes Krysta Rodriguez as one of the teens’ teachers and Matthew Broderick as their high school principal. “We thought it felt right to show that Ferris Bueller has grown up and become Ed Rooney,” Coleite says with a laugh. Hey, you know what they say about life moving pretty fast.
Daybreak will premiere on Netflix on Oct. 24.